We’ll go out on a limb and say Vikings fans aren’t the only group of NFL followers complaining about a placekicker who has four missed field goals and botched his team’s most recent game.
A week before Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a game-tying PAT and had an off-target 46-yarder blocked during a quick six-point swing in a 22-16 overtime loss to the Lions, Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins was getting effectively iced by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis with 2:13 left in overtime of a 27-27 tie.
Hopkins appeared to win the game with a 34-yarder. But Cincinnati was able to sneak in a timeout. Hopkins lined up again and sent his fourth miss of the season screaming wildly wide left.
Vikings fans have company this week as they share the misery of missed kicks.
Overview: The Redskins started the season 0-2 while averaging 19.5 points per game and allowing 32.5. But they’ve outscored their past six opponents by an average of 24.5-20.7, going 4-1-1 in their with wins against the Giants, Browns, Ravens and Eagles, a loss to the Lions and the tie with the Bengals. The offense ranks fourth overall (410.3 yards per game), third in passing (298.8) and second in sacks allowed per pass play. The defense ranks 22nd overall (369.8) and 26th against the run (123.8).
To the tape: …
Top thoughts while watching tape of the Redskins’ 27-27 tie on Oct. 30 in London:
—There are a few good reasons quarterback Kirk Cousins ranks in the top 10 in the NFC in most passing categories and sixth in the NFL in passing yards (2,454). He’s got talent and poise, sure. But what he really has are weapons and a ton of time to throw. He’s been sacked only 11 times in eight games. The Redskins can call deep passes knowing Cousins will have time to throw. That’s practically an inconceivable thought at Winter Park this season.
—Washington’s first drive contained everything that concerns Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when it comes to trying to defend this fourth-ranked offense. As well as Lions QB Matthew Stafford was spreading the ball, this Redskins offense will still be the toughest test that Zimmer’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense has faced this season. Certainly the most diverse. The Redskins’ opening drive went 80 yards in 15 plays and took nearly half of the first quarter (7:22). Cousins completed passes to four different targets: Tight end Jordan Reed and receivers DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon are equally difficult to defend in their own ways.
—Reed returned to face the Bengals after missing two games because of a concussion. He’s the guy that establishes Cousins’ comfort level. On the opening play against the Bengals, the Redskins ran a misdirection play that rolled Cousins to his left for an easy 7-yard completion to Reed. That established the rhythm for the entire drive. Reed ended up catching three passes for 31 yards on the drive and nine for 99 and a touchdown for the game. His second catch showed the kind of mismatch he can be. With two linebackers sandwiching him on a pass over the middle, the 6-2, 246-pounder still had the ability to concentrate well enough to secured a bobble and gain 12 yards and a first down.
—It’s fun to watch what the Redskins get out of both Jackson’s speed and the threat of his speed. The Bengals, like a lot of teams, are petrified to press Jackson. The Redskins use that to their advantage in third-and-short situations. On the opening drive, the Bengals essentially gave Jackson a 4-yard quick out on third-and-three. Jackson also had a 38-yard catch later on.
—Crowder’s skills as a punt returner sure shine from his spot as the team’s slot receiver. He’s shifty, elusive and fast, turning little bubble screens into what look like punt returns. On the first drive, Cousins checked out of a running play when he saw a favorable matchup in the slot for Crowder. A simple toss was turned into a 17 yard escape act by Crowder. This could be an especially bad matchup for the Vikings if Captain Munnerlyn can’t play this week. Crowder finished with nine catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
—Just when you get fixated on Jackson, Reed and Crowder, the film reminds you that Garcon is still a pretty stout receiver who runs good routes and isn’t affected by jostling with corners. He had a 6-yard grab on third-and-two on that opening drive. The options this team has on third-and-short should scare any defense.
—The Redskins’ running game is middle of the road (14th), but Robert Kelley, an undrafted guy out of Tulane, has some power up the middle. The guy teammates call “Fat Rob,” had 87 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries while filling in for starter Matt Jones, who missed the game because of an ankle injury. Word out of Washington is Fat Rob might keep the job even though Jones wasn’t on the injury report Wednesday. Jones has three fumbles this season and has lost two of them.
—Kelley and the line looked impressive and powerful on a 4-yard touchdown run to cap the first possession. But Washington’s red-zone offense has been a problem area. It went into the Bengals game ranked 28th with a 43 percent touchdown percentage. It went 1 for 4 against the Bengals with a run stop on fourth-and-one Hopkins’ missed field goal.
—The Redskins’ offensive line can be dominant. Cousins has been sacked only 11 times, including only once while dropping back to pass 57 times in five quarters against the Vikings. However, the Vikings won’t be seeing the same starting five. All-Pro and team captain Trent Williams will be serving a suspension and won’t be locking down the left tackle spot. Journeyman Ty Nsekhe, who joined the Redskins last season after bouncing around the Arena Leagues, CFL and NFL, will start. “We have to take advantage of that,” said Vikings right end Everson Griffen. The Vikings have only two sacks in their past three games. Both by Griffen, who leads the team in sacks with six.
—Nsekhe is considered by many to be a starting-caliber tackle. The Redskins will use him as a third tackle when they’re looking for extra power or more edge protection. Against the Bengals, he lined up on the right side as a third tackle on a 44-yard deep-ball completion to tight end Vernon Davis. No defender was even near Cousins when he released the ball.
—Speaking of Davis, just when you think the Redskins have all the firepower anyone can handle, they put Davis, the former first-round draft pick of the 49ers, in the game. Then he runs a deep route down the left sideline for 44 yards. Washington’s tight ends combined for 14 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.
—Hopkins’ missed field goal wasn’t the only special teams lapse. The Redskins gave up a 65-yard kickoff return after opening the game with a touchdown drive. The Bengals responded by tying the game with a 36-yard touchdown drive.
—The Vikings can’t run the ball, but the good news — maybe — is the Redskins struggle to stop the run. That much was evident watching the Bengals run 36 times for 156 yards, a 4.2 average and three touchdowns. On Cincinnati’s first possession, the Redskins were soft in the middle, allowing 9 yards up the middle, another 4 up the middle and then getting completely overwhelmed on an 8-yard touchdown run. The Bengals pulled both guards and just overpowered the left side of the Redskins’ defense.
—Ryan Kerrigan is the team’s leader in sacks with seven. He had a banner day against the Eagles a few weeks back, and added another sack against the Bengals. But keep an eye on 3-4 defensive end Chris Baker. He overpowered the right guard on a first-quarter sack. He’s a load that Brandon Fusco might struggle with.
—Cornerback Josh Norman has only one interception, but he should have had one against the Bengals. He read a pass beautifully and was in position, but didn’t complete the play. He drew the tough assignment of shadowing A.J. Green. Green caught nine passes for a game-high 121 yards. But he didn’t score and he was targeted 18 times. Norman was flagged three times. One of them — pass interference on Green’s 40-yard catch — was declined. The other two were accepted for illegal hands to the face.
Key stat: 8.
Number of three-and-out possessions that ended with a punt for the Washington offense in eight games this season. They went into their game against the Bengals leading the league with only six in seven games. They had only two in five quarters of play against the Bengals.