Series: Redskins lead 11-9
Last Meeting(s): When Minnesota beat Washington 17-13 last season, then-interim head coach Leslie Frazier (coaching his first game) should have taken away only one thing: Donovan McNabb has become a very ineffective quarterback. McNabb was 21-35 with a touchdown and an interception, but the Redskins had numerous easy third down-conversions fall to the ground in the second half—to be fair, Santana Moss wasn’t helping McNabb at all. Still, to think that Frazier could watch that game live—from the sideline—then go trade for McNabb nine months later is baffling.
Brett Favre wasn’t great in that game either (though he did seal the game with a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter) and neither offense hit 300 total yards. The Vikings played mistake-free enough to eek out the meaningless (for Minnesota) win and basically kill Washington’s playoff hopes (they fell to 5-6).
Streak(s): This will be the fourth game hosted by Washington in the last five meetings; the teams have split the series overall since 2005 (2-2). Minnesota won in the 1993 and 1998 regular seasons but, before that, Washington had won seven straight including three playoff games. The Redskins won at home 21-7 in a 1982 divisional round game; 17-10 at home in the 1987 NFC Championship; and 24-7 at the Metrodome in a 1992 wildcard game; Washington went on to win the Super Bowl all three years. The Redskins also ended the Vikings playoff hopes in 2007: Minnesota entered the game 8-6 with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but lost to Todd Collins 32-21. The Redskins beat the Vikings 21-18 in Week 17 of the 2004 season, in the infamous “Randy Moss leaves the field before the clock runs out” game, which dropped Minnesota to 8-8 but did not deny them a playoff spot.
Peterson’s struggles: Maybe no other team has limited Adrian Peterson better than the Redskins. In two games, Peterson has rushed for 63 yards against Washington. In 2007, Washington’s defense focused solely on Peterson. They went with eight- and even nine-man fronts for the entire game, daring second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to beat them. Jackson beat the Vikings instead. He was intercepted on Minnesota’s second play from scrimmage and, when they got the ball back following a goalline stand by the Vikings’ defense, Tony Richardson was immedietly tackled for a safety. Visanthe Shiancoe fumbled in the second quarter and Jackson followed that with another interception. Down 25-0 in the third quarter, Minnesota went to the air and Peterson ended up with only nine carries. In 2010, Peterson left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury after rushing nine times for just 27 yards, though he did run for a five-yard touchdown.
Veteran Quarterbacks: It would have made perfect sense for the Redskins sign Tarvaris Jackson. They grabbed Rich Gannon in 1993 after he started for Minnesota for three seasons. In 1999, Washington thought Brad Johnson was a good idea, too. That didn’t work out so well, so in 2000 they signed Jeff George, who was fresh off a resurgent year in Minnesota. The Vikings got in on the act, too, signing Gus Frerotte twice. If Christian Ponder doesn’t work out, maybe we can call Heath Shuler or Jay Schroeder.
For all of Week 16’s matchups, check out Brad’s blog.