The Washington Commanders squandered away a ten point lead in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings and watched a three game winning streak come to a sudden halt.
If last week was one of the more exciting comebacks in recent years for the Commanders, then Sunday’s loss to the Vikings was one of the more depressing losses since a week five heartbreaker to the Titans. Amazingly, Washington is still in the mix for a playoff slot, but the window narrowed a bit against Minnesota. If the defeat to Tennessee was painful, then Sunday’s loss to Team Purple was frustrating and maddening – and yes, a bit on the heartbreaking side as well.
Welcome to our week nine analysis of Sunday’s game. Unfortunately, we have five negatives to talk about, grades to submit, and issues that need attention. The Commanders somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and it’s time to dive right into the sad details
5 negatives for the Commanders vs the Vikings
1. Taylor Heinicke is a true folk hero for Commanders fans and rightfully so, but his performance on Sunday left a lot to be desired. From many passes being batted down to an ill-advised touchdown pass (the analytics will show that it was a very dangerous throw), the gunslinger from Old Dominion made too many mistakes in the game.
2. Scott Turner called a poor game against the Vikings and didn’t make adjustments when needed. Rolling Heinicke out could’ve prevented a heavy pass rush for much of the game. Calling a quarterback draw on third and nine was a true blunder and such a call is nothing short of football malpractice. And the list goes on and on.
3. Throwing a challenge flag at any moment during a game should come with the realization that the call is an easy one to overturn. One such flag in the second half that was tossed by head coach Ron Rivera was clearly a bad choice. The quarterback was at least two yards short of the chain and not a first down by any stretch of the imagination.
Taking a costly timeout in the second half during a substitution mistake robbed the Commanders of a second timeout – two timeouts (including the failed challenge) contributed to the loss late in the game. Coaching is our third negative for this week.
4. Late in the game, the Vikings lined up for a field goal with just over one minute to play. Washington would still have a chance to at least tie it with a field goal of their own and send the contest into overtime. Rookie defensive tackle John Ridgeway committed a serious personal foul that allowed Minnesota to have a new set of downs and put the game away. It’s hard to have a negative for the talented rookie, but he did make a mistake that ended the game.
5. Another rookie that makes the negative list this week is running back Brian Robinson. His comeback from being shot before the season opener is inspirational, but it does not give him immunity from criticism. He was indecisive on Sunday and looked lost for the entire game. He didn’t hit open holes assertively and looked slower than normal. Robinson finished the day with 44 yards rushing on thirteen carries and two catches for negative six yards. He is our fifth negative for the week.
Additional Negatives: Logan Thomas, Cornelius Lucas, Kamren Curl, Percy Butler, Benjamin St-Juste, Tyler Larsen, and Rachad Wildgoose.
Grades for Commanders vs. Minnesota
- Quarterbacks – Grade: D
- Running Backs – Grade: D+
- Tight Ends – Grade: D+
- Wide Receivers – Grade: B
- Offensive Line – Grade: D-
- Defensive Line – Grade: A
- Linebackers – Grade: C
- Cornerbacks – Grade: C-
- Safeties – Grade: C-
- Special Teams – Grade: B
- Coaches – Grade: F
Commanders should address these glaring issues
- In each of the Rivera years, the Commanders have continuously had poor starts to the game. It’s time to end that cycle and take control of the game from start to finish.
- The defensive line is having a great year, but a general lack of sacks each game is troubling. Two sacks were registered on Sunday, and one came from cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.
- In order to win consistently in the NFL, Washington needs to increase their production substantially. Sunday’s leading rusher produced 44 yards. The leading receiver had 65 yards receiving. The tight ends combined for five yards on one catch. The quarterback had 149 yards passing. That is not a recipe for winning. More production is needed.
Commanders Next Game Prediction, Final Thoughts
The Commanders travel to Philadelphia for an NFC East clash on Monday night. Can Washington pull off a major upset?
Eagles 38 Commanders 13
KJ Record: 4-5
Last week’s headlines were dominated by a probable team sale in the offseason and fans were excited, but all of the positive vibes for Sunday’s game melted away late in the fourth quarter. Are the playoffs a realistic option?
Kam Curl had a good game, but he did allow a 36 yard reception by Adam Thielen late in the first half and a running back stormed by him for a 12 yard touchdown catch halfway through the fourth quarter.
Note: Some information is missing from the opening drive of the game (by Minnesota) as yours truly was experiencing a technical issue for several minutes. Apologies for the omission.
We’ll return next week after the Eagles game. See you as we go along.