Vikings @ Commanders
Final Score: Vikings 20, Commanders 17
Writer: Brennan Rampe (@phdinnfl on Twitter)
Another week, another one-possession win for the Vikings. Coupled with Green Bay’s loss to Detroit, Minnesota’s six-game winning streak puts them in the driver’s seat atop the NFC North. The Vikings went 78 yards on nine plays on their opening drive culminating in a Justin Jefferson score. Kirk Cousins was perfect on the drive with no incompletions, and new acquisition T.J. Hockenson made his presence felt early with a crucial catch on third down. The game then turned into a battle of field position as neither offense could put together a sustained drive, resulting in eight straight punts.
Washington ended the punting streak with a field goal near the end of the second quarter. The Vikings mounted a drive after the field goal but Cousins threw a tipped interception in the end zone, and it was 7-3 at the half. Washington wasted no time getting down to business at the start of the third quarter, as Antonio Gibson ran back the kickoff for 45 yards. On the next play from scrimmage, Curtis Samuel had one of the craziest touchdowns of the year. Taylor Heinicke threw a prayer into triple coverage and it seemed as if Camryn Bynum was going to pick it off, but he was taken out of the play by the back judge. Dean Blandino then explained that officials are part of the field of play. The Commanders took a 17-7 lead early in the fourth as Dax Milne caught his first career touchdown. Minnesota answered with a field goal to make it 17-10 on a drive that featured a huge catch by Jefferson and a scary moment for Vikings fans everywhere as Cousins was injured but only ended up missing one play.
On the next drive, Taylor Heinicke had one of his patented late-game interceptions as Harrison Smith picked him off and returned it 35 yards to Washington’s 12-yard line. 2 plays later, Dalvin Cook hauled in a one-handed touchdown reception to tie the game. Following a Commanders’ three-and-out, Minnesota took the ball near the end zone. Greg Joseph kicked a field goal with 1:52 left but a penalty on the defense gave them a fresh set of downs. Since Washington only had one timeout after an unsuccessful challenge, Minnesota ran a few plays to drain the clock before kicking the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left to seal the win.
Kirk Cousins: 22/40, 265 Yards, 2 TD, INT | 2 Carries, -2 Yards
Nick Mullens: 1/1, -3 Yards
After a flawless first drive, Washington’s defense clearly made adjustments as they were able to get consistent pressure on Cousins. This pressure led to a lot of hurried throws as well as throwaways. Cousins actually leads the league in throwaways, which are far preferable to turnovers. This explains his less-than-stellar completion percentage. The interception he threw was a result of being aggressive at the end of the first half, throwing a ball to Justin Jefferson that was tipped and picked. There should be no questions about his toughness as he delivered passes knowing he was going to get hit. He’s also a model of consistency, whose 37-game streak with a touchdown pass is the longest active streak in the NFL and the sixth-longest in the history of the NFL.
Nick Mullens came in for one play when Kirk Cousins got injured. He threw a screen pass to T.J Hockenson that went for negative yardage, and Cousins came back in immediately.
Dalvin Cook: 17 Carries, 47 Yards | 6 Targets, 2 Receptions, 9 Yards, TD
Alexander Mattison: 2 Carries, 1 Yard | 1 Target, 1 Reception
The box score tells the story here. Dalvin Cook was bottled up for most of the day and Minnesota’s ground game couldn’t get in sync. Washington’s defensive line didn’t give him much room to run. He still ended up being one of the heroes of the game, as his one-handed touchdown catch in the fourth quarter tied the game. Alexander Mattison‘s biggest contribution came as a blocker against the Commanders’ defensive line.
Our RB would be your WR1.@dalvincook
📺: @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/Y4RiFRUMx7
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) November 6, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Justin Jefferson: 1 Carry, 10 Yards | 13 Targets, 7 Receptions, 115 Yards, TD
Adam Thielen: 7 Targets, 3 Receptions, 67 Yards
Johnny Mundt: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 1 Yard
T.J. Hockenson: 9 Targets, 9 Receptions, 70 Yards
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah should be in jail for grand larceny over the T.J. Hockenson trade. It could be argued that they would have lost this game if Minnesota didn’t make this trade. He caught everything thrown his way and had several key third-down conversions. Considering this was his first week in the offense, I’m excited to see what he’ll look like as the season progresses. To the surprise of nobody, Justin Jefferson was the leading receiver for the Vikings, and he started the scoring with his opening drive touchdown. He had some opportunities in the end zone, but he was covered well. Adam Thielen was covered well for most of the game but did have a nice 36-yard reception that put the Vikings in a position to score before the half.
Even when he's covered, he's uncovered.@KirkCousins8 @JJettas2
📺: @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/o2jrjHrIdm
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) November 6, 2022
Taylor Heinicke: 15/28, 149 Yards, 2 TD, INT | 4 Carries, 17 Yards
Taylor Heinicke continues to give Washington the spark that seemed to be missing in the first half of the season. His enthusiasm appears to be infectious, and he plays fearlessly. He had the Commanders in position to win the game before throwing a late-game interception, which seems to be his kryptonite. One of his touchdown passes should have been an interception, but the back judge ran into safety Camryn Bynum, who would have had it. His numbers aren’t great, but he is well-respected by his teammates and coaches.
Antonio Gibson: 11 Carries, 36 Yards | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 11 Yards
Brian Robinson Jr.: 13 Carries, 44 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, -6 Yards
The Vikings’ defensive line did a good job of keeping Washington’s running back duo in check. Despite his average day, Brian Robinson Jr. joined positive yards on many rushes that should have been for no gain. This is impressive because it has been just three months since he was shot. Antonio Gibson‘s biggest contribution was the opening kickoff of the second half, which went for 45 yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Terry McLaurin: 9 Targets, 5 Receptions, 56 Yards
Curtis Samuel: 1 Carry, 16 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 65 Yards, TD
Armani Rogers: 1 Carry, 24 Yards
Cam Sims: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 12 Yards
Dax Milne: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards, TD
John Bates: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 5 Yards
Terry McLaurin is the undisputed WR1 on the team but didn’t put up stellar numbers. The Minnesota secondary had him well-covered through most of the game. Curtis Samuel had the most interesting play of the day, as he had the most unique touchdown of the season. He was the recipient of a touchdown pass that should have been intercepted. Armani Rogers had a critical 24-yard carry on 3rd-and-1 that led to the first career touchdown for Dax Milne. Milne made the most of his one opportunity.
WHAT ON EARTH
Curtis Samuel with the magic act catching the deep ball between THREE defenders AND the back judge.
WHAT. HOW?!#HTTC | @CurtisSamuel4__ pic.twitter.com/UMHHYHhmKV
— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) November 6, 2022
TUDDY FOR 1️⃣5️⃣
📺 #MINvsWAS pic.twitter.com/PCLB6c0eIw
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) November 6, 2022