- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Three things we learned in the Redskins’ 29-26 loss at Minnesota on Sunday:

1. Griffin’s back — kind of: Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 18 of 28 passes for 251 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his first game after dislocating his left ankle against Jacksonville on Sept. 14. After starting 6-for-6 for 103 yards in the first quarter, Griffin slowed down in the second, completing just 2 of 7 passes for 9 yards and an interception, but then bounced back with a pair of scoring drives in the third quarter.

He looked more like rookie-year Griffin than he did last-year Griffin, when he was clearly hampered in his recovery from right knee surgery and was a shell of the player he once was. Coach Jay Gruden also did him favors with the play-calling, sprinkling in a few zone-read option plays and designed runs to open up the running game — and then the play-action throws downfield.

Griffin took three consecutive sacks at one point — two at the end of the second quarter and one to open the third — and still showed difficulty in making decisive throws at times. (On one sack, by Vikings defensive end Brian Robinson in the third quarter, he held the ball for nearly five seconds before being brought down.)

It’ll be a work in progress for Griffin, which is to be expected, but his first foray in six weeks on Sunday wasn’t discouraging.

2. The Redskins’ defense isn’t so fearsome: A week after shutting down Tony Romo on “Monday Night Football” in Dallas, throwing blitz after blitz after blitz at a quarterback who has shown plenty of ability to beat them during his career, the Redskins’ defense wilted in the second half against a pedestrian Vikings offense.

Washington allowed Minnesota to gain only 146 yards in the first half, including 14 on the ground, but the Vikings were able to adjust. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota on scoring drives of 76 and 73 yards in the fourth quarter, and Bridgewater finished the game with 268 passing yards — the second-most he’s had in his five games as the Vikings’ starting quarterback.

Bridgewater started poorly, overthrowing Cordarelle Patterson on a play in the first quarter where the wide receiver also appeared to lose the ball in the sun, and then in the second quarter, where he missed Patterson far and Redskins cornerback David Amerson almost intercepted the pass. All told, he had 238 passing yards after the first quarter — and that’s a way for a defense to make a young player look like a star.

3. Pressure situations continue to be a problem: The Redskins have been consistently poor this season on third down, and while they converted six of their 13 attempts on Sunday, they were not able to finish drives in the red zone.

Kicker Kai Forbath made field goals of 36 and 26 yards against the Vikings after drives stalled at Minnesota’s 8- and 18-yard lines. The only red-zone situation in which the Redskins scored on Sunday came in the third quarter, when wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught a pass from Griffin that he extended 13 yards for a touchdown. Had either of those drives ending in field goals ended in a touchdown, the Redskins would not have had their two-game winning streak ended.

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