Commanders fall to Vikings in heartbreaker: Everything we know

Early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, it looked like the Washington Commanders were heading to their fourth consecutive win to improve to 5-4 on the season.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke just threw his second touchdown pass of the day to wide receiver Dax Milne, and the Commanders took a 17-7 lead over Minnesota.

That’s where the fun ended for Washington.

Heinicke was intercepted on the Commanders’ next possession when he overthrew tight end Logan Thomas on what should’ve been an easy completion. Vikings safety Harrison Smith returned the interception deep into Washington territory. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Dalvin Cook, and suddenly the game was tied.

Washington’s offense stalled again, giving Minnesota a chance to win the game. The Commanders defense seemingly held the Vikings to a field goal with two minutes remaining in the game, but Washington defensive tackle John Ridgeway was flagged for making contact with the center on the field goal, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty, giving Minnesota a first down.

The rest is history.

Here is everything we know from Washington’s loss.

Final score: Vikings 20, Commanders 17

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) walks off the field against the Washington Commanders. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Team

1Q

2Q

3Q

4Q

Final

Minnesota Vikings

7

0

0

13

20

Washington Commanders

0

3

7

7

17

Why the Commanders lost

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) intercepts a pass intended for Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas (82). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There were a few plays we could isolate as to why the Commanders lost to the Vikings. Let’s focus on what completely changed the game’s momentum.

The Commanders faced a 2nd-and-11 from their own 31-yard line. Heinicke drops back to pass and sees tight end Logan Thomas on a crosser. Minnesota safety Harrison Smith is bearing down, but a good throw from Heinicke from results in a Washington first down. Unfortunately for the Commanders, Heinicke throws way high into the waiting arms of Smith who returns it 35 yards to the Washington 12-yard line.

Two plays, Cousins found Dalvin Cook for a touchdown. This tied the game, but completely took all the momentum away from Washington.

It was over when....

Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks the game winning field goal against the Washington Commanders. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington defensive tackle John Ridgeway made contact with the long snapper on Minnesota’s field-goal attempt with two minutes remaining. The play wiped out the field goal but gave the Vikings a first down inside the five-yard line. They would run three plays, burning the clock, before attempting — and making — the game-winning field goal.

Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post received clarification on the final call.

Commanders' top performers

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) carries the ball as Washington Commanders safety Kamren Curl (31). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

  • S Kamren Curl: 11 tackles, 2 tackles for loss

  • DT Daron Payne: 6 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits

  • DT Jonathan Allen: 2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits

  • CB Benjamin St-Juste: 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 QB hit

Game notes

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is hit by Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat (90). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

  • Cousins was sacked twice by Washington but was hit at least 11 times and hurried 18 times. This is despite Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell featuring a game plan for Cousins to get rid of the ball quickly.

  • Brian Robinson led Washington with 13 rushing attempts. Antonio Gibson had 11. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner needs to do a better job of getting Gibson more touches.

  • Turner’s playcalling was again an issue for much of the game. There is no rhythm in his playcalling, and when he gets something right, he follows it up with a head-scratching sequence.

  • The Commanders struggled to get anything going in the intermediate passing game for much of the day. With big tight ends like Thomas, John Bates and Armani Rogers, Washington must do a better job of working the middle of the field.

  • Washington’s defense was flying all over the place until late in the game, showing the unit’s true potential. The Commanders are one cornerback and linebacker away from being a potentially elite defensive unit.

  • Punter Tress Way continued his outstanding season. Way punted six times, averaging 48 yards per kick, but he landed three inside the 15-yard line, including two inside the 10-yard line.

What's next

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) passes the ball under pressure from Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Commanders needed to pick up the win over Minnesota with a rematch at Philadelphia on Monday night in Week 10. The Eagles are undefeated.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire