Published November 20, 2014
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was asked about his team's miscues Saturday.
"Which plays are you referring to?" Shanahan asked.
The inquiring reporter named a few plays, and Shanahan added a couple more.
It was that type of day for the Redskins, who lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 33-26. Washington committed eight penalties for 64 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception — the mistakes often coming at the most inopportune times.
Washington (5-10) has lost six straight at home, its longest such skid since 1994.
Tied at 10 at halftime, the Redskins appeared to catch a break on the first two plays of the third quarter, when running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Christian Ponder suffered game-ending injuries for the Vikings (3-12).
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after taking a direct hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes on a 3-yard gain. An MRI showed the ACL tear after the team returned to Minnesota.
On the next play, Ponder was sacked by Adam Carriker and London Fletcher. Ponder remained in the game for one more play — a third-down incomplete pass — before heading to the locker room.
The Redskins allowed Minnesota's backup backfield of running back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Joe Webb to lead the Vikings to 23 second-half points.
Washington struggled to slow Webb, who completed 4 of 5 passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 34 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
"When they bring in a weapon like that — not a secret weapon, we'd seen him on tape and we had a feeling — but it's hard to prepare fully on a short week for two quarterbacks," linebacker Perry Riley said.
Could the Redskins change their defense against the dual-threat quarterback?
"You can't change it," Riley said. "It's hard to change it midstream like that."
Gerhart had 109 yards on 11 carries, but his Redskins counterpart, Evan Royster, outran him. Royster had 132 yards on 19 carries after running for just 83 yards on 17 carries entering the game.
The sixth-round pick from Penn State joined injured Roy Helu to give the Redskins two rookies who have rushed for 100 yards in a game in a season — a first in franchise history.
Royster, who began the season on the practice squad, was asked whether he ever was discouraged.
"Absolutely," Royster said. "I never thought that I'd start a game this year, to be honest. But that's not to say I wasn't prepared to."
Rex Grossman completed 26 of 41 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, and the Redskins gained 397 yards offense. But either their drives stalled — Graham Gano made four field goals — or Grossman turned the ball over. Grossman, who entered the day tied with San Diego's Philip Rivers with 22 turnovers, lost a fumble and threw an interception.
Grossman was asked to explain his interception, a fourth-quarter pass that sailed over Santana Moss' head and into the hands of Vikings safety Mistral Raymond.
"It was high," Grossman said. Then, he paused at the podium.
"I can elaborate, but it's pretty simple."
The Vikings kept alive their hopes to not finish with the worst record in team history. A win next week against Chicago would put them ahead of the dubious 1984 Minnesota team that went 3-13.
The Vikings hadn't lost seven in a row in the same season since their expansion year of 1961.
Webb's 8-yard pass to Percy Harvin broke a 23-23 tie early in the fourth quarter, and rookie Mistral Raymond's first career interception set up Ryan Longwell's 23-yard field goal. That gave the Vikings a 10-point lead with 4:05 to play. Minnesota had gone nine games without a pick before Raymond's big play.
The Redskins pulled within a touchdown on Graham Gano's 47-yard field goal with 1:25 remaining. They got the ball back after a punt, but Grossman's final long fling to the end zone fell incomplete.
Grossman completed 26 of 41 passes for 284 yards with two touchdowns. He also had two more giveaways — a lost fumble and the interception — to put his total at 24 for the season. He was already tied for the most in the NFL entering the game.
Peterson had 12 carries for 38 yards when he left. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Ponder was 8 for 13 for 68 yards.
The Vikings were also short-handed along the offensive line, with guard Steve Hutchinson inactive with a concussion, and guard Anthony Herrera sidelined in the first half with a lower back injury. Rookie Brandon Fusco, playing his second NFL game, entered at right guard and committed a personal foul with a late shove in the final minute of the first half.