3-and-Out: Can Redskins contain Peterson?

3-and-Out: Can Redskins contain Peterson?
November 7, 2013, 7:15 am
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3-and-Out: El-Bashir previews Redskins-Vikings

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome.

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Redskins Post Game Live

Was Sunday’s win over the Chargers the turning point in the Redskins’ season? It might have been. But it won’t mean a whole lot if Robert Griffin and Co. can’t back it up against Adrian Peterson and the one-win Vikings on Thursday night.

Here are CSNWashington.com’s three keys to victory in Minneapolis:

1st down - Like the Redskins, Griffin’s season has been plagued by inconsistency. Adequate in Oakland. Off target in Dallas. Good enough against Chicago. Not so much in Denver. Outstanding Sunday against the Chargers as he posted a season-high completion percentage (71.9) and made a number of clutch throws in overtime. But which Robert is going to show up Thursday at the Metrodome? The Redskins had better hope it’s last week’s version. Their season depends on it.

2nd down - Although Adrian Peterson probably won’t gain 2,000 yards for a second straight season, the 28-year-old still is on pace for more than 1,400 yards and remains a threat to score at almost any down and distance. He’s coming off a 140-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Cowboys. The Redskins have done a solid job against Peterson in four all-time meetings, limiting him to 27, 36, 38 and 79 yards. Of course, one of those games was cut short because of a devastating knee injury. If the Redskins are to escape the Minneapolis with a win, their 22nd ranked run defense must contain A.D.

3rd down - The Redskins’ special teams have struggled for most of 2013, particularly against some of the NFL’s elite returners. And on Thursday, they won’t catch any breaks. Up next, they’ve got the league’s top kickoff returner in rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who is averaging 37 yards per attempt. He’s fast. He’s decisive. He’s not afraid to reverse field in search of daylight. And, oh yeah, he’s also taken two kickoffs for touchdowns - also tops in the NFL. As Coach Mike Shanahan said on Tuesday, “We’ve got out work cut out for us, that’s for sure.”

Extra point - The Redskins’ average starting field position is their own 22.6-yard line. That’s the worst in the league and worst by any team through the first eight games in the last 30 years.