The Vikings traveled to Washington this weekend looking to defeat the Redskins and escape a losing streak that spanned three games. That outcome wasn't in the cards. Washington used two early touchdowns and then four field goals during the rest of the game to beat the Vikings 26-20. Here are five takeaways from Sunday's loss to the Redskins.
1. Resiliency can serve as Vikings foundation for ending losing streak
Mike Zimmer wants his team to win every time they take the field. We all know, though, that no team wins every game it plays. That's why Zimmer also closely monitors the fight his team shows during games, regardless of the outcome. And that's why Zimmer will take some solace even as the Vikings leave another NFL regular season weekend with a loss. The Vikings found themselves down 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter, but they battled back to score 20 unanswered points and led by six at halftime. Washington responded and reclaimed the lead in the 4th quarter. The Vikings, trailing by six with 2:31 to play in the game and no timeouts remaining, took the field at their own 25 and marched 54 yards to the Redskins 21 before an incompletion, sack, penalty and sack ended the game. The Vikings didn't get the job done, but they did show the kind of fight Zimmer wants his team to display.
2. Vikings still in search of a running game
The Vikings have not been able to get their ground game going this season and the struggles continued against the Redskins on Sunday. The Vikings gained 47 yards on 21 carries and their inability to produce in short-yardage situations proved particularly costly in this week's loss. The Vikings failed to convert on rushing attempts with a to-go distance of three yards or fewer six times, and they had six rushes of no gain or negative yardage. This deficiency is understandable to some extent given the injuries to the offensive line, and now that group must deal with yet another one with Jake Long leaving the game with an Achilles injury.
3. Stefon Diggs made history
Stefon Diggs is on fire. He had 13 catches in 14 targets last week against the Detroit Lions, and this week he had 13 more receptions on 15 targets, totaling 164 yards. Diggs became the first player in NFL history to have 13 receptions in back-to-back games. It was Diggs who came up with the Vikings first big play of the game, hauling in a 36-yard pass from Sam Bradford to push the Vikings into Redskins territory and setup his team's first score of the game. Diggs had a 28-yard catch on the first play of the Vikings next scoring drive, as well. Diggs had catches on the first five plays (totaling 42 yards) and on six of the first eight plays of the Vikings final series as they were driving for the game-tying touchdown, but that drive stalled before Diggs (or anyone else) could get into the end zone.
4. More injuries
Injuries have been a major part of the narrative surrounding the Vikings 2016 season, and that only continued in Washington. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks collided early in the game as they both defended a Kirk Cousins pass, knocking both of them out of action for a bit. They each returned, but Kendricks was eventually forced from the game again and he did not return. Also, CB Xavier Rhodes left the game with a concussion and Long is dealing with the Achilles injury. Injuries are an ugly part of this game but they are a central part of the Vikings story so far in 2016, and that won't be changing this week as they prepare for the Arizona Cardinals to visit U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
5. Bradford played great on the road
With all that has happened to the Vikings this season, it's easy to forget that QB Sam Bradford has played in only eight games as a Viking. The book on him before this Sunday's game against the Redskins was that he was great at home but not-so-great on the road. That changed Sunday because Bradford played great. He did throw an interception that came in a crucial moment of the game, but it was less the product of a bad decision or throw and more the product of a great individual effort and play by LB Preston Smith. In total, Bradford completed 30 of 38 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and the interception for a passer rating of 104.9, giving him his fifth game of the season with a 100 passer rating, second-most in the NFL this season behind only Drew Brees.