The Redskins.com crew breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Vikings 2017 Week 10 showdown at FedExField in Landover, Md.
"Redskins-Vikings: Ingredients For Victory" is presented by Papa John’s.
Every Monday after a Redskins game, get a Large Cheese Pizza for just $9.99. Receive a FREE TOPPING for every Redskins touchdown. DOUBLE THE FREE TOPPINGS when the Redskins win!
BUILD OFF LAST WEEK'S BIG VICTORY
In one of Washington's grittiest wins in years, the Redskins entered last Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks decimated by injuries.
Four of the five starting offensive linemen, two of the top three tight ends and the team's slot receiver and punt returner all did not appear in the game. This, of course, on top of the fact key defensive starters like Jonathan Allen and Mason Foster has already been placed on Injured Reserve weeks prior.
Despite the limited resources, the Redskins found a way to come out on top in a back-and-fourth matchup, scoring a massive 17-14 victory.
The team celebrated on the long flight back from Seattle, but the victory is now a moment in the past. The Redskins now return to FedExField in Landover, Md., to host the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings who have a 6-2 record.
"I think we've played long enough and had big wins and mountain-top moments that you learn how to come down from it and get back to work," said quarterback Trent Williams. "However long you celebrate, I believe that by Tuesday's meetings and walkthrough, you're onto Minnesota and ready to go. I think we've learned how to ride that rollercoaster or not ride it, if you will, as you go through the season."
A win over Minnesota on Sunday would certainly help Washington over the long haul as playoff tie breakers start to come into play. While the Redskins are 0-3 in divisional play so far this season, they have big victory under their belt with the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
Cornerback Josh Norman also wants to make sure the Redskins rebound at their home stadium after a tough 33-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago.
"We've got to go out there and have the mindset where we got to protect our house," Norman said. "Because, we play good on the road and we come here at home and kind of throw goose eggs. We can't have that. We can't have those lapses. When we come here, our crowd is our friend...I look at it as, 'Man, I'm back at home, coming out here and giving these guys something to cheer for.' You know, all that money to sit in that seat, I'm going to give them a show. And that's what we've tried to come out here and do every time, give them something to go back home and talk about when they go to work on Monday."
DON'T LET STEFON DIG UNDER YOUR SKIN AGAIN
While the Redskins were able to defeat the Vikings 26-20 in their Week 10 matchup last year, University of Maryland product Stefon Diggs was a nightmare for Washington's defense.
In total, Diggs recorded 13 catches for 164 yards – more than half of Sam Bradford's passing yards on the afternoon.
The six-foot, 191 pounder troubled then-rookie cornerback Jonathan Allen all afternoon. It was in the midst of a string of tough performances for Fuller at the time.
"Yeah, I'm familiar with No. 14," Fuller said. "He got me last year, so I'm 0-1 right now."
While Fuller may think he's behind Fuller in the 1-on-1 matchup between the two, the Virginia Tech product has vastly improved this season now that he's further removed from a torn ACL suffered in 2015.
"I even told him last year, when you get those knee surgeries, that first year coming back is always hard," said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. "I've seen a lot of players that have had that microfracture surgery and it just takes them a while. I told him from last year, 'Just keep on going with it. You'll actually see the difference between year one and year two.' And actually he did.
"He came up during training camp and goes, 'Boy, this is a lot different than it was last year,' and I said, 'Yeah, you have more confidence in your leg and your knee.' But overall, smart football player. He understands concepts and understands the defense. He does a great job and we're lucky to have him."
Entering Sunday's game, Fuller currently paces Washington's defense with three interception. Adding to that total against the Vikings would certainly go a long way in the Redskins picking up a fifth victory on the season. But Fuller's first objective is simply slowing down Diggs.
"I've got to make up from last year," Fuller said. "We've got something for him. We'll just go out there and play ball."
REJUVENATE THE RUNNING GAME
The Redskins have dealt with offensive line injuries for weeks, affecting almost every facet of the offense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins faces more pressure and the trio of Redskins running backs have had trouble breaking through the initial wave of defenders.
Luckily for Washington, the great O-line injury nightmare might finally be over, and with it comes a reinvigorated running game.
"It's huge. To have a balanced attack is everything," said Redskins center Spencer Long, who could return to game action against the Viking after missing the past two games. "We want run the ball well to help our passing game and I think we're going to need that in order to win this game."
The need for a strong outing from the Washington running backs has been present for almost three weeks.
Not since Week 4 have Redskins backs rushed for a combined 100 yards or more.
Against the Cowboys, Washington recorded a season low 49 yards on the ground. A week later in Seattle, the Redskins managed just 51 yards. Running back Chris Thompson, Washington's leader in both rushing and receiving yards, said that trend needs to be reversed against Minnesota's stout defense.
The Vikings run defense has allowed only two runs of more than 20 yards this season and has not allowed a single run of more than 40 yards.
"I mean they're ranked the top defense in the league right now and I think third in rush defense," Thompson said. "So, we got to put a good game plan ahead and just try to go out there and put our best foot forward."
SHOW' EM YOU STILL HAVE IT, DeANGELO
Veteran safety DeAngelo Hall made his return to the field in a big way last Sunday, helping the Redskins slow down a Sehawks offense that was terrorized by pressure all afternoon.
The 33-year-old recorded five combined tackles and two passes defended, while playing in all 83 defensive snaps. The high snap count came as a surprise to many, considering it had been more than a year since Hall last played, but he responded to it well by holding his own in coverage and even got some action in the return game.
"I was super impressed. You know, that guy, heck, what can you say about him," cornerback Josh Norman said this week. "He comes in there like he picked up where he left off and he even got a little better with it."
Gruden was not quite as surprised as his star cornerback when it came to Hall's performance, knowing how much time the veteran had put into the mental side of the game while he was rehabbing his torn ACL.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised. I was glad to see it," Gruden said this week. "A lot of veterans could have taken time off in OTAs and not come in and when he wasn't able to participate in training camp, maybe sat out some, but he was participating in all of them. He was like a coach out there."
Fellow players and coaches were impressed with Hall's performance on Sunday, but as someone who holds himself to a high standard, the veteran safety was disappointed in missing his chance to get an interception or two.
"I was so anxious to be out there, things were moving a little bit fast at first," Hall said. "Definitely now that I look back on the game, having played in it, I'm like, 'God, I left two picks on the table.' As a guy who loves to get the ball, you always think about that."
It was a long road coming back from the Achilles and ACL injuries of last season, but Hall's presence once again this week will provide veteran leadership against a Case Keenum-led Vikings offense.
"It's good, especially having a guy that's been around the game for so long, seeing what he sees, his opinion on things like that," Fuller said. "Just having all different types of guys in the locker room helps all of us."