LANDOVER, MD. - The Vikings' red-zone offense was awful, but Sunday's game at FedEx Field was lost on critical mistakes the Vikings made inside their own 20-yard line.
"We spotted them 14 points," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "It's tough to win that way."
Impossible was more like it in the Redskins' 12-point (38-26) romp.
Playing his worst game of the season, Ponder turned the ball over three times. Two of them came with the line of scrimmage at the Vikings 20- and 17-yard lines.
A fumble late in the second quarter led to a Redskins touchdown and a 17-9 deficit one play later, while an early fourth-quarter interception by former Vikings safety Madieu Williams was returned 24 yards for a touchdown and a 31-12 deficit.
Ponder completed 35 of 52 passes (67.3) for 352 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But 199 of the yards and 20 of the completions came after Williams' pick-six put the Vikings down by 19 points with less than 13 minutes left in the game.
On the pick-six, Ponder was supposed to throw a fairly simple check-down pass to receiver Michael Jenkins.
"I have protection in the backfield and I kind of act like a running back and release for a check-down," Jenkins said.
"It's a little wrinkle we have. I ran to my spot, but I think the ball just kind of slipped out of Christian's hand."
Ponder said that's exactly what happened, which explains why the ball was thrown 5 or 6 feet over Jenkins' head.
It was such a bad throw that even the league's 31st-ranked pass defense could make the play.
"The ball just sailed on me," Ponder said. "I just had a couple misses. I didn't play as well as I should have."
Williams was asked if it felt any better coming against a team that released him before the 2011 season.
"Not necessarily," he said. "It was business as usual for me. It was nothing personal. I was there for three years, and I enjoyed my stay. I just wanted to come out and play well for the guys in this locker room. Give us a chance to win."
On the fumble, the Redskins blitzed both outside linebackers on first-and-10 from the Vikings 20. Running back Adrian Peterson was shoved backward in pass protection by Perry Riley coming off the right side. Riley stripped the ball and inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander grabbed it at the 8 and advanced it 2 yards.
"Wish I could have scored," Alexander said. "But I had [Vikings left tackle Matt] Kalil all over my back.
"It was just being at the right place at the right time. Perry did a good job pushing the back into the quarterback."
Although it was Ponder's worst performance this year, he appears ready to move on because, quite frankly, even he wasn't expecting 16 winning performances.
"You just have to forget about it," Ponder said. "We do a good job of forgetting about it and moving on and just keep playing.
"I think for how young this team is, we show a lot of maturity. We've been here before. We lost the second game of the first quarter [of the season] and now we lost the second game of the second quarter. So we can learn from it."