Red­skins lose scorefest

Wash­ing­ton carved up by Keenum PAGE B1

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Vik­ings 38 — Red­skins 30

WASH­ING­TON (WPNS) —The 2017 Wash­ing­ton Red­skins have had nine games to as­sert an iden­tity. And the best that can be said in the wake of Sun­day’s 38-30 loss to the Min­nesota Vik­ings is that they’re mad­den­ingly in­con­sis­tent.

One week af­ter prov­ing them­selves a dan­ger­ous up­start ca­pa­ble of top­pling the divi­sion-lead­ing Seat­tle Sea­hawks, the Red­skins re­turned to FedEx Field, where a par­ti­san home crowd of 74,476 and a fast start were in their fa­vor, and showed they’re equally ca­pa­ble of mak­ing it all too easy for op­po­nents.

The Red­skins de­fense that had been so stout in the up­set at Seat­tle sur­ren­dered enough big plays to make a Pro Bowl case for Vik­ings third-string quar­ter­back Case Keenum, who threw for 304 yards and a ca­reer­high four touch­downs.

Vik­ings re­ceivers torched the Red­skins sec­ondary, help­ing Min­nesota score touch­downs in all five for­ays in­side the red zone and spurring a cel­e­bra­tory game of leapfrog in the end zone that drew jeers from the crowd.

“We came out flat,” Red­skins cor­ner­back Bashaud Bree­land said bluntly. “We came out flat; they came with en­ergy.”

Said a frus­trated Ryan Ker­ri­gan: “It’s like you’re watch­ing two dif­fer­ent teams. We go out there in Seat­tle and play 89 plays and give up 12 points, and this week we give up 28 be­fore the half ... We’ve got to find some sort of con­sis­tency and be able to make those types of per­for­mances like we had against Seat­tle a weekly thing ... Our of­fense scored 30 points, and that should be more than enough to win a foot­ball game.”

The loss dropped the Red­skins to 4-5 head­ing into next week’s game at NFC South-lead­ing New Orleans (72). But the fault wasn’t the de­fense’s alone.

The of­fense left far too many points un­scored, com­ing away with touch­downs just twice in four trips in­side the 20.

Af­ter let­ting a 17-14 lead turn into an 18-point deficit in a dis­as­trous fiveminute span to close the first half, the Red­skins clawed back, spurred by safety D.J. Swearinger’s two sec­ond-half in­ter­cep­tions, to make it a one-score game.

Un­like last week, Cousins couldn’t con­jure the hero­ics to com­plete the come­back. He strug­gled to com­plete throws in­side the 20, and his wide re­ceivers didn’t help, with Josh Doct­son stum­bling on one would-be touch­down and Jami­son Crow­der un­able to hang on for an­other.

Cousins’ sec­ond-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion — the re­sult of a poor, high throw in­tended for Crow­der — turned the mo­men­tum. He fin­ished 26 of 45 for 327 yards, one touch­down and the one in­ter­cep­tion, while rush­ing for two scores.

Keenum, mean­time, was 21 of 29 for 304 yards and four touch­downs.

The Vik­ings (7-2) en­tered the game rested, com­ing off their bye week, while the Red­skins had mud­dled through yet an­other week of prac­tice with a half-dozen starters limited by in­jury.

They got good news be­fore kick­off. Min­nesota’s de­fen­sive end Ever­son Grif­fen, who leads the team with 10 sacks, was ruled in­ac­tive with in­jury. And the Red­skins’ banged-up start­ing of­fen­sive line re­turned full-force for the first time in three weeks, slough­ing off a litany of shoul­der, knee and an­kle in­juries in hopes of giv­ing their team a chance to pull off a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive up­set of an NFC divi­sion leader.

Af­ter­ward, each line­man moved slowly and gin­gerly in the locker room, as if each step were a bur­den. But their pro­tec­tion and pres­ence had made a dif­fer­ence. Cousins was sacked just once, com­pared to six times the pre­vi­ous week; and Red­skins backs gained 81 yards against the NFL’s third-ranked rush­ing de­fense.

The game started fa­vor­ably for the Red­skins.

They breezed down the field on their open­ing drive and capped the se­ries with a ter­rific, one-handed, 36-yard touch­down catch by Mau­rice Har­ris, who had been el­e­vated from the prac­tice squad just 24 hours ear­lier.

The Vik­ings re­sponded quickly, with Keenum hit­ting wide re­ceiver Ste­fon Diggs, a for­mer All-Met from Good Coun­sel, for the first of sev­eral deep throws. Run­ning back Latavius Mur­ray car­ried the fi­nal yard to knot it, 7- 7.

Af­ter trad­ing punts, the Vik­ings de­fense stepped up the in­ten­sity, bull­doz­ing Cousins on one play and end­ing run­ning back Rob Kel­ley’s day with a knee-wrench­ing tackle on an­other. Af­ter three failed at­tempts to score from the 10, Red­skins kicker Nick Rose drilled a 28-yard field goal to re­take the lead, 10-7.

The Vik­ings took their first lead, 14-10, on Keenum’s three-yard strike to Diggs.

The Red­skins re­sponded with a gutsy seven-minute drive that in­cluded a fourth-and-1 gam­ble by Coach Jay Gru­den. Strug­gling again with goal-line throws, Cousins plunged the fi­nal yard for the score, with help from line­backer Ryan An­der­son mas­querad­ing as a full­back, to re­take the lead, 17-14.

The mo­men­tum shifted for good in the 4:37 that re­mained in the sec­ond quar­ter. Keenum fired com­ple­tions of 38, 17 and a seven-yard strike to wide 6-2 wide re­ceiver Adam Thie­len (eight catches, 166 yards), who was barely in­con­ve­nienced by the Red­skins’ sec­ondary, for Min­nesota’s third first-half score.

Trail­ing 21- 17 with 1: 49 to work with, Cousins threw high to Crow­der, but the ball was tipped and in­ter­cepted by Mack­en­sie Alexan­der. Three plays later, Keenum threw a one- yard touch­down to backup tight end David Mor­gan, un­guarded in the end zone, send­ing the Vik­ings to the break with a 2817 lead.

Swearinger’s sec­ond-half in­ter­cep­tions gave the Red­skins hope. But the Vik­ings, who led 35-20 at that point, never let the Red­skins closer than eight points from then on.

WPNS PHOTO

The Red­skins de­fense gave up 304 pass­ing yards and four touch­downs thrown by Vik­ings quar­ter­back Case Keenum.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Red­skins wide re­ceiver Mau­rice Har­ris makes a one-handed catch for a touch­down Sun­day against the Vik­ings.

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