- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2017

LANDOVER — Josh Norman was perplexed. After a 38-30 loss Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings, the Redskins cornerback remarked how he hadn’t played that poorly since his rookie year.

And he was right.

From the outset, Norman and the Redskins were beaten on route after route.

On Minnesota’s first drive, Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs beat Norman on a double-move for a 51-yard gain. Diggs’ catch easily set up a 1-yard touchdown for running back Latavius Murray.

Murray’s touchdown was the first of many Sunday — and the Redskins, once again, fell below .500 on the season.

“It seems like we’ve got this rollercoaster right now where we’re up, down, we’ve just got to get over that mark,” Norman said.

“We played like trash in the secondary,” he said later. “We really did.”

The effort, Norman said, narrows down to consistency.

Last week, the Redskins shut down the Seahawks in Seattle for a dramatic 17-14 win. The win demonstrated what the Redskins defense could be at their best: disciplined, hard-hitting and talented.

That wasn’t the case against Minnesota.

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum carved up the Redskins defense, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Besides Diggs, Vikings wideout Adam Thielen proved to be a nightmare for the Redskins.

Thielen had eight catches for 188 yards, 100 of which came by halftime.

“It was one of the worst defensive performances we’ve had since I’ve been here, in the first half,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “You know, 28 points and four touchdowns and whatever they wanted basically. They had big plays, play action plays, whatever they wanted.”

The Redskins made it interesting late, due to two forced turnovers from safety D.J. Swearinger. Swearinger had two interceptions on back-to-back drives, the latter of which set up a two-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Kirk Cousins to make it a one-score game in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings, though, marched down the field and kicker Kai Forbath hit a 53-yard field goal to put Minnesota up 38-27 with just under eight minutes remaining.

Redskins running back Chris Thompson then failed to convert a fourth-and-1 with 4:44 left, which put the game out of grasp.

Redskins kicker Nick Rose hit a 55-yard field goal to cut the Vikings lead to eight with 1:14 left. They failed to recover the onside kick attempt, which went out of bounds.

For most of the season, the Redskins defense helped bail out the offense. The opposite almost happened Sunday.

The Redskins offense found its groove with the majority of their offensive line returning. Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses were all active after dealing with a series of injuries.

At the start of the game, Cousins found wide receiver Maurice Harris for an eye-popping 36-yard touchdown. Harris delivered a candidate for “Catch of the Year’ — hauling in the pass with an incredible one-handed grab.

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder also returned after missing the Seahawks game with a hamstring injury, continuing his chemistry with Cousins. In the second quarter, Cousins hit Crowder for a 32-yard gain, setting up a 1-yard QB sneak for a touchdown to put the Redskins up 17-14 with 4:37 left in the half.

“It’s a unique game to come away from,” said Cousins, who finished with 327 yards, one passing and two rushing touchdowns. “I rarely play a game where I felt like we had everything we wanted offensively throughout the entirety of the game. … but obviously it wasn’t enough.”

As was the case for most of the day, the Vikings answered the Redskins’ rally in just six plays — taking a 21-17 lead with 1:49 left in the half.

When the Redskins needed an answer, Cousins threw an interception, having it returned to their own 23-yard line. The Vikings scored, entering halftime with a 28-17 lead.

The Vikings added another touchdown at the start of the second half, putting them up by 18. The deficit was just enough where Washington couldn’t come back.

The Redskins now travel to New Orleans, where they will face another team leading their division. Of the Redskins’ five losses this year, all of them are against teams with winning records.

“We lost the game for the offense,” defensive lineman Ziggy Hood said. “We’ve got to do better as a defense.”

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