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Redskins-Vikings GameDay Preview

12.23.2011 / Blog Posts Redskins

By Gary Fitzgerald

WEEK 16: Vikings (2-12) @ Redskins (5-9)

In the FedExField season finale, the Redskins host the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, Dec. 24. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.

The Redskins are 2-5 at FedExField this season. They have lost five straight home games after opening the season with consecutive home wins against the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings are 1-6 in away games this season, with their only win coming in Week 8 at Carolina.

The Vikings are expected to start rookie quarterback Christian Ponder against the Redskins. Since 2006, the Redskins have lost seven consecutive games to rookie quarterbacks, including earlier this season to 2011 top draft pick Cam Newton of Carolina.

The Redskins and Vikings meet for the 21st time in the history of the two franchises. Washington holds the series lead with a regular-season record of 8-7 and a postseason record of 3-2. The Redskins have won eight of the last 12 meetings against the Vikings, including two playoff wins.
The last time the two clubs met was on Nov. 28, 2010 at FedExField, with the Vikings winning 17-13.

Washington and Minnesota last met in the postseason in 1992, when the Redskins won 24-7 in the Wild Card round.

In 1987, the two teams met in the NFC Championship game, with the Redskins prevailing 17-10. Darrell Green made a key stop on the game’s last play, knocking away a pass to Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter to secure the Redskins a berth in Super Bowl XXII.

REDSKINS-VIKINGS KEYS TO THE GAME

GROSSMAN vs. VIKINGS SECONDARY: Rex Grossman and the Redskins’ 14th-ranked passing offense face off against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses in Minnesota. The Vikings yield an average of 260.4 passing yards per game, ranked 30th in the league. Grossman has re-established his rapport with former college teammate Jabar Gaffney, who has 58 catches for 842 yards and four touchdowns this season. And Santana Moss is starting to get back in rhythm -- he has TD catches in each of the last two games. Even Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has acknowledged as much that the secondary – which includes veteran Cedric Griffin playing on two reconstructed knees – has struggled in coverage. The Vikings have just six interceptions this season.

WILLIE SMITH vs. JARED ALLEN: Willie Smith has seemingly come from nowhere to become the Redskins’ left tackle. The undrafted rookie out of East Carolina was eased into the lineup after Trent Williams was suspended but he played the entire game against the New York Giants last Sunday. Smith held his own against Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, one of the game’s top pass rushers. On Saturday, Smith faces off against Jared Allen, who has great quickness, a quick first step, a difficult spin move and a relentless motor that can be tough for a veteran left tackle to handle, let alone a rookie. Allen has 17.5 sacks, second-most in the league. Since 2004, he has 100.5 sacks, most in the league in that span.

RILEY, FLETCHER vs. PETERSON: Since Week 10 at Miami, the Redskins’ run defense has improved steadily against the run, yielding an average of 97.8 yards per game. Opponents’ average yards per carry in that six-game stretch is just 3.6 yards. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Miami game is when Perry Riley took over at one of the inside linebacker spots. London Fletcher has a nose for getting in position to make tackles and he uses sound fundamentals to make sure brings ball-carriers down. Riley and Fletcher will be tested against All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. He leads the Vikings with 932 rushing yards, a 4.8 yards-per-carry average and 11 touchdowns. At 6-1 and 217 pounds, Peterson combines great size with breakaway speed and is tough for any one defender to bring down.

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