MIN-WAS grades: Cousins spreads ball around in Washington win

The highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Washington's win over Minnesota.

| 7 months ago
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

MIN-WAS grades: Cousins spreads ball around in Washington win

Washington Redskins 26, Minnesota Vikings 20

Here are the highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Washington’s win over Minnesota.

Washington Redskins

Quarterback grade: Kirk Cousins, 75.8

Cousins spreads the ball far and wide

Touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Jamison Crowder, along with 81 yards passing to Pierre Garcon, highlighted the depth of the receiving corps Kirk Cousins has at his disposal in an efficient performance. Cousins got good rewards hitting the intermediate range between the numbers (four of four for 60 yards) but targeted 23 of 33 passes outside the numbers collecting 164 of his passing yards and both of his touchdown passes in the wide areas of the field

Top offensive grades:

LT Ty Nsekhe, 83.9
WR Pierre Garcon, 80.5
WR Jamison Crowder, 80.3
TE Vernon Davis, 79.7
TE Jordan Reed, 77.1

Strength in depth drives Washington forwards

Rob Kelley’s ascension to starter at running back was cemented with Matt Jones reportedly a healthy scratch for this game and the rookie ran hard behind an offensive line missing its star left tackle for the first of four games this season. In his stead, LT Ty Nsekhe surrendered only one hurry and put in a strong performance as a run blocker, to which Kelley added seven missed tackles and 73 yards after contact to ensure Washington’s offense had a balanced attack. With two WRs and two tight ends among the top five grades for the offense, Washington showed the depth and breadth of talent they boast around Kirk Cousins.

Top defensive grades:

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, 82.6
LB Su’a Cravens, 82.1
DE Trent Murphy, 77.7
OLB Preston Smith, 77.2
S Will Blackmon, 76.7

Big time plays in big moments

Since he entered the league at the start of last season, Preston Smith has converted more than 20 percent of his total pressures into sacks and his knack for the big play was evident again today against Minnesota. His zone drop in the fourth quarter outfoxed Sam Bradford and his fourth down sack clinched the game, immediately exploiting Jake Long’s departure. This year’s second-round pick LB Su’a Cravens turned in his best game of the season so far with two pressures and a defensive stop which came beating a WR block on a pin-pull play to tackle Ronnie Hillman deep in the backfield for a six-yard loss.

Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 47.4

Bradford dinks and dunks and comes up short

Sam Bradford’s average depth of target in this game was 5.3 yards — his lowest of the season with only eight passes attempted 10 or more yards downfield and three of those completed. That approach worked up to a point for the Vikings, keeping the pass rush off Bradford with short quick passes and receivers gaining after the play but in the crunch Bradford couldn’t deliver. A bad misread led to an interception for Preston Smith and Bradford was lucky not to throw an interception to Mason Foster earlier in the game as well. The Vikings have yielded some dividends from getting the ball out quicker on shorter passes the last two weeks but at the crucial moments their team — and this week, their quarterback — have come up short as their slide continues.

Top offensive grades:

WR Stefon Diggs, 88.0
C Joe Berger, 80.2
RT T.J. Clemmings, 80.0
RG Brandon Fusco, 75.9
LT Jake Long, 74.0

Diggs puts on a show on his return home

Playing an NFL game in his home state for the first time in his career, Stefon Diggs put on a show for the Vikings. He dominated CB Kendall Fuller, putting up 106 of his 158 receiving yards against the rookie from Virginia Tech including the 36-yard gain that sparked the Minnesota offense in the second quarter. Diggs also added value as an open field blocker keeping the path open for Kyle Rudolph on his receiving score, running Fuller into the endzone as Rudolph tied the game.

Top defensive grades:

DT Linval Joseph, 83.4
LB Anthony Barr, 78.7
DT Tom Johnson, 78.2
CB Terence Newman, 78.1
DT Shamar Stephen, 73.0

Joseph stands tall while others fall off tackles

Nose tackle Linval Joseph is setting himself up as the most consistent player on this defense as the other stars from a year ago fail to find the kind of form they showed last season and early in the Vikings five-game winning streak to start the season. Joseph was a disruptive force in the middle of the defense against run and pass, but with Eric Kendricks knocked out of the game early he didn’t have the support in run defense from those around him to make Washington one-dimensional. S Harrison Smith has missed as many tackles in his last three games (seven) as he did in the entirety of the 2015 season.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Stefon Diggs

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Jj

    I know Diggs had a great game by why does game ball go to the losing team?

    • Jay V Of Considerable Influenc

      Because he was the best player on the field today. And I say that as a Skins fan.

  • NAJ

    How have 4 Vikings O-line got good grades or above despite not allowing their RBs to make a single yard time and again? The Redskins

    RBs always had a free 2-3 yards even on the worst runs and Vikes were stopped in the backfield time and again.

    • enai D

      Because PFF’s grading procedures are nonsensical and arbitrary. TJ Clemmings played an awful game, getting consistently beat in both the run and pass games… and they gave him an 80. Lol nope, nice try PFF, better luck next time.

      • Evan

        Now you see here that Clemmings had a career day over shadowed by stef.

    • Joseph Greene

      Rob Kelley had 73 yards after contact out of 97 total. Try again.

      • NAJ

        Yes but those contact yards were past the line of scrimmage not behind. Generally touched by only 1 Viking whereas Vikes RBs had 2 or 3 swarming all over them. You try again.

        • Joseph Greene

          He had 73 after contact out of 97 total. Are you seriously going to say that he got touched 1 yard past the line on every single run he had that game? Come on, put a little bit of thought into things.

          • NAJ

            Stop spouting empty stats and rewatch the game. Redskins RBs are usually in front of the line of scrimmage and Vikes behind it when touched. Those ‘contact’ stats could be 1 hand on the defender whilst the RB has momentum or 2 men on top of him as he receives the ball but they all count the same so take them with a grain of salt. Having watched every minute of every Viking game this season, it was the same with AD before he was injured. This line hasn’t given them a chance to even break tackles. Not all yards after contact are created equal, Vikes line sucks donkey balls all the way.

          • Joseph Greene

            You’re the idiot saying he wasn’t getting touched until he was several yards downfield. Only 24 of his yards came before contact.

  • nosoop4u

    Absolutely amazed that the Vikings O-Line grades are anything above zero. The Vikings adjusted their strategy to get the ball out quickly, sacrificing the ability to make any kind of passes more than a few yards downfield, because the tackles basically can’t hold off any kind of rush. So Bradford gets dinged because he can’t make plays downfield due to the turnstiles in front of him, but they get a free pass because he is able to actually complete quick throws before he gets hit. He may not be getting sacked quite as much, and that last sack on the final drive was mostly on Bradford, but he’s still getting hit and pressured a ton.

    And the RBs get 36 yards on 20 carries (excluding the WR run by Thielen). How does the O-Line get a pass on that? McKinnon had a career 4.9 Y/C average coming into this season, so it’s not like he doesn’t have talent. Hillman was over 4 Y/C too. And between them, they’re 10 attempts for 18 yards yesterday? That’s on the O-Line.

    • Evan

      The oline isn’t the problem, it’s Sam. We can’t throw short passes and take 7 step drops. It becomes nearly impossible to block for Sam. I’m actually shocked that they are saying sam is carrying the team when he is missing the receivers. We don’t understand that quick passes consists of 3 step drops. Zimmer is not being aggressive enough on his play calling which is making us look weak so they can find the holes in the defense. 3-4 minor details and we are right back in it…

      • Egg A Kotlcam

        He threw for three bills and two touchdowns and HE’s the one at fault? Are you totally out of it?! He and Diggs (bless him, he tries so hard)
        kept them in the game but the D forgot who they were these last five weeks.

        Being aggressive takes TIME. Time in the pocket. Which they don’t have! The Offensive line is THE reason this team is in the state it is. Offense cant stay on the field because the line cant assist in either the run or pass game. They are down to Berger and third string everywhere else.

        Every play flows through the line, whether you think so or not. If they cant block, no plays are successful, EVER. That’s how the game of football is played!

        • Joseph Greene

          82 of that was the final 2 drives when Washington was playing a deep shell with LBs mostly taking 8+ yard drops. He also threw a bad INT and took two sacks on those drives. Lots of empty yards there.