Vikings 19 Redskins 9
MINNEAPOLIS — Dalvin Cook had 171 total yards and the game’s only touchdown, helping Kirk Cousins beat his old team on the first try and carrying the Minnesota Vikings to a 19-9 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.
Cook, the NFL leader in yards from scrimmage, rushed 23 times for 98 yards and caught five passes for 73 yards for the Vikings (6-2) in their fourth straight victory. Cousins went 23 for 26 for 285 yards without a turnover against the Redskins (1-7), who drafted him in 2012 and made him the full-time starter in 2015.
Case Keenum, the quarterback Cousins replaced, had his return to Minnesota spoiled by a concussion that kept him out of the second half. Keenum also lost a fumble on a first-quarter sack. Rookie Dwayne Haskins threw an interception deep in Minnesota territory when the Redskins trailed by only seven points.
Another former Vikings standout, Adrian Peterson, had 14 carries for 76 yards and in the process moved up to sixth place on the NFL’s career rushing list.
Keenum’s last time in the stadium was nearly two years ago, when his last-play touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings a victory over New Orleans in a divisional round playoff game, but there was little reason to make this game a memory. Keenum went 12 for 16 for 130 yards.
Diggs caught all seven passes that came his way from Cousins, racking up 143 yards to make sure the Redskins didn’t completely sell out to stop the run. Alexander Mattison added 61 yards on 13 rushes, and Minnesota more than doubled Washington’s total yardage, 434-216.
After coach Jay Gruden was fired three games ago and replaced on an interim basis by Bill Callahan, the Redskins doubled down on the ageless Peterson and began pounding him into the defence with more frequency while trying to relieve some of the pressure on Keenum behind a vulnerable offensive line.
Washington was plenty content to play a slow, safe game against the formidable Minnesota defence, and Vikings offensive co-ordinator Kevin Stefanski was more than fine with a slog-it-out style. Cousins was as crisp as ever, but the deep ball to Diggs was only used sparingly after an air-it-out approach to their previous three games. The screen pass to Cook was the favoured weapon, highlighted by a zigzagging 31-yard gain late in the second quarter that covered both sides of the field.
That set up his 4-yard run for a score with 11 seconds left on third down, a bold inside zone call showing confidence in Cook that he rewarded by powering his way through safety Troy Apke and cornerback Fabian Moreau at the goal line.
The Vikings ran a third-and-15 draw play to Cook from the 25 early in the fourth quarter before settling Dan Bailey’s fourth field goal of the night, an ultra-conservative decision that even drew some boos from a crowd that was probably just bored at that point by a game bogged down by penalties and ball-control play.
STEFON NEEDS STICK-UM
Diggs went without a fumble over each of the last three seasons, and the Vikings recovered the two he had as a rookie in 2015. This year, he has already fumbled four times, the most in the league among non-quarterbacks, and the Vikings have lost three of them. Diggs also dropped what would have been a touchdown pass last week at Detroit, a catchable ball that slipped through his hands on third down in the fourth quarter.
Former Vikings tight end Steve Jordan, a six-time Pro Bowl pick, entered the team’s Ring of Honor in a halftime ceremony that his son Cameron Jordan, the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Saints, was able to attend. Jordan, who wore a blue NFC Pro Bowl jersey with his father’s No. 83, was on the losing end of that Keenum-to-Diggs play that sent the Vikings to the NFC championship game.
Redskins: CB Josh Norman (thigh/hand) returned from a one-game absence, but he didn’t play until CB Quinton Dunbar hurt his hamstring in the second quarter. Moreau started ahead of Norman. FS Montae Nicholson (ankle) was inactive, too, with Apke taking his place in the lineup. … Backup SS Jeremy Reaves left the game with a concussion in the third quarter after a head-first hit on Diggs that also drew him an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Vikings: With WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) out, rookie WR Olabisi Johnson got his first start. … CB Xavier Rhodes entered the concussion protocol in the third quarter but was cleared to return.
Redskins: Play at Buffalo on Nov. 3.
Vikings: Play at Kansas City on Nov. 3, with the status of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in question. The 2018 NFL MVP dislocated his kneecap a week ago.