Washington's penalties help Vikings gain crucial yards

Costly miscues negated a strong effort by Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.


Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III scrambled 12 yards to the Vikings’ 1-yard line to set up a second quarter touchdown on Thursday night. Griffin threw three touchdown passes in his team’s loss.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

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The Redskins put up a fight throughout Thursday’s contest against the Vikings. It just wasn’t a beneficial fight and one that some players felt was dirty on the Vikings end.

Vikings guard Brandon Fusco scuffled with the Redskins defense at the end of the first quarter at Mall of America Field on Thursday. Washington continued its undisciplined play from that point on. It resulted in costly penalties the Vikings turned into touchdowns in their 34-27 win over the Redskins.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III had 281 passing yards and ran for 44 yards, but it wasn’t enough as Washington fell to 3-6 in a game where it often lost composure.

Redskins linebacker Perry Riley Jr. was one of three players called for unnecessary roughness or roughing the passer penalty that resulted in a touchdown.

His unnecessary roughness penalty occurred in the second quarter with the Vikings inside the 10-yard line. Following running back Adrian Peterson’s rush, Riley was flagged for retaliation on what would have been a third-and-5. The Vikings scored on the next play when quarterback Christian Ponder found wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson for a 2-yard touchdown to take a 14-10 lead.

“They were doing a lot of cheap stuff out there,” Riley said. “They always say usually the first one that gets caught is the second one. I just lost my cool, and I need to learn to keep my cool in instances like that. But they were doing dirty stuff the whole game.

“They were doing it on special teams and offense. I’m not sure if that’s how they coach but everybody was doing it I feel like. I just happened to retaliate. That’s all me.”

The Redskins entered Thursday’s game with more penalty yards than their opponent in six of their previous eight games. That trend continued against the Vikings with Washington conceding 56 more penalty yards.

“You got a guy shoving you here and there after plays; they’re trying to be intimidating,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “It’s a physical game, and it’s kind of hard to dictate what’s going on out there. Sometimes the emotions get the best of you, but we just got to do a better job because we killed ourselves in some key pivotal drives out there. I think that’s something we’re going to address in this short bye week.”

The Vikings took the lead for good in the third quarter, but they started inside Redskins territory due to an unnecessary roughness call on fullback Darrel Young. The five-play, 41-yard drive took just two minutes and ended on a one-yard touchdown from Peterson to give the Vikings a 28-27 lead.

“That’s unacceptable,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “You have to keep your poise. You make mistakes like that so often, they’ll cost you the game.”

On the Vikings’ second drive, Ponder found tight end John Carlson for 21 yards on 3rd and 7. They gained another 15 yards on a roughing the passer call against nose tackle Chris Baker. The Vikings scored two plays later on Peterson’s 18-yard touchdown.

“I thought it was a bad call,” Baker said. “I thought I made a normal form tackle, but I guess they said I led with the crown of my head at the last second.”

Baker said a physical game will result in chippy play, but he felt the Vikings also exceeded the limit with some of their antics after the play.

“It’s just two hungry teams trying to win a game, so it gets chippy,” Baker said. “You try not to get any penalties but you just got to overcome the penalties and try to make a stop.”

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