When the Minnesota Vikings (7-2) took down the Washington Redskins (4-5) 38-30 on Sunday, the narrative was flipped. While the Vikings defense was far from poor, it wasn’t as stingy as the fans have come to expect in 2017. The Redskins accumulated 394 yards of offense. In 2016, this would have spelled disaster for the Vikings. In 2017, the Vikings offense flexed its own muscles, racking up 406 yards.
It wasn’t pretty (again), but the Vikings pulled out their first road win in the beginning of a stretch that will have the Vikings on the road four out of five games. Minnesota will take on the Los Angeles Rams (6-2 heading into Week 10) next week in U.S. Bank Stadium in a game that will help shape the NFC playoff picture. So with that, let’s look at three takeaways from the Vikings week 10 victory.
Week 10 Minnesota Vikings Takeaways
Adam Thielen Steals the Show Again
As many have said before, Adam Thielen has gone from a feel-good story to a bonafide number one target. Thielen had eight receptions Sunday for 166 yards and a touchdown, putting him at 793 yards off of 56 catches this season. Save for a dropped pass on third down in the fourth quarter, Thielen caught everything that Case Keenum threw him.
Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has commercials, but Thielen has Norman’s number, beating Norman multiple times (including a 49 yard reception where Norman and the Redskins secondary had a breakdown in coverage). Even though Keenum hung a few passes in the air too long, Thielen was still coming down with catches where defenders weren’t within five yards of him. His route running has become more crisp than ever, and even though Stefon Diggs had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, Thielen is the go-to receiver in the Vikings offense.
Speaking of Keenum…
Keenum’s stat line will look pretty and probably won many fans their fantasy leagues. He was 21-of-29 for 304 yards and four touchdowns. He helped the Vikings build a 35-17 third quarter lead that looked insurmountable. But Case Keenum is still Case Keenum and couldn’t contain himself.
Late in the third quarter, up 35-20, Keenum floated a pass off of his back foot, getting intercepted by Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger. Early in the fourth quarter, Keenum never took his eyes off of tight end Kyle Rudolph, and Swearinger intercepted his second pass and returned the ball to the Vikings two yard line. The Redskins scored on a Kirk Cousins two yard sneak and made the game compelling down the final minutes. The Vikings still held on, but Keenum’s recklessness that he’s flashed throughout the season came back to bite him today.
With quarterback Teddy Bridgewater active for the first time this season, Keenum will start feeling heat if he keeps putting the Vikings into unnecessary situations. Even though Bridgewater was never known for lighting up the scoreboard in his first two seasons as the Vikings’ starting quarterback, he wasn’t prone to making mistakes. Even though today’s 30 points given up was a season-high, Minnesota is still carried by its defense and can’t afford to give teams life in games that are well in hand.
All Eyes on Everson Griffen This Week
Even though coach Mike Zimmer said that he expected defensive end Everson Griffen to play this week, Griffen was inactive for Sunday’s game. He was tied for second in the league coming into the game with 10 sacks. His absence, although not catastrophic, was palpable.
The Vikings only got to Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins once. That came late in the fourth quarter from Griffen’s bookend Danielle Hunter. While Cousins wasn’t on fire Sunday, he still finished with 327 yards and a touchdown, able to sit in the pocket and find outlet receivers consistently in the flat.
Griffen’s replacement, veteran Brian Robison, still accumulated four tackles and a pass deflection. While the stat line was decent, the Redskins found some success running to the right side of the Vikings defense that Griffen would have otherwise sealed up. Hopefully with another week of rest, Griffen will be able to come back and start in a very big game next Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.