There was no letdown for the Minnesota Vikings, and that meant no chance for the Washington Redskins.
After taking a bye week to bask in their big win at Green Bay, the unbeaten Vikings avoided the stumble that has bedeviled them in recent seasons with an emphatic victory Sunday.
Throw in a dominating defensive performance that included five sacks, and Minnesota (6-0) showed even more about its character than it did by beating the Packers two Mondays ago.
"I don't think there's any question about it," said Robert Smith, who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown. "It's easy to get up for a game like Monday night against Green Bay at Lambeau Field. But can you get up against a team that hasn't won a game all year? We showed we can do it but this test is over. It's time for a new one."
That will be next week's trip to Detroit. Meanwhile, the hapless Redskins (0-7), who are closing in on the franchise-worst 0-9 start of 1961, have next weekend off.
And the timing couldn't be better.
Coach Norv Turner, in danger of losing his job, called the performance inept. Cornerback Darrell Green, one of a handful of players Turner singled out for their consistency, agreed.
"It brought tears to my eyes on the sidelines," Green said. "It just hit me. I began to really ponder it as I sat on the sidelines. I became emotional. I don't know why. I've lost before."
Never like this, though, and the frustration was evident throughout the Washington locker room.
With Gus Frerotte misfiring all afternoon in his first start since Week 1, the Redskins managed only 177 yards and nine first downs. Frerotte was 10-for-26 for 117 yards and an interception.
| Minnesota's Cris Carter can't get bring down this pass into the end zone. But Carter did haul in five catches for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' victory. (AP) |
"I guess being 0-7 isn't embarrassing to some people, but it is to me," said linebacker Marvcus Patton, another of the players Turner praised. "It seems to me there are people who just don't care enough."
The contrast in postgame attitudes was as wide as the performances on the field.
Despite their problems -- and Washington has a bunch -- the Redskins were the kind of team that has given the Vikings trouble in past years when they were coming off important wins. Coach Dennis Green admitted after the game he was worried how his team would respond.
"I was a little edgy this week," Green said. "I wanted to make sure we picked up where we left off."
That's exactly what they did, even after spotting Washington a 7-0 lead with a rare mistake.
Matt Turk's punt after the game's opening possession bounced off Randy Moss as he tried to block a Washington player. Darryl Pounds recovered at the Minnesota 2, and former Vikings running back Terry Allen scored on the next play.
Minnesota answered with touchdowns on its next two drives.
Cunningham finished the first one with an 11-yard pass to Andrew Glover afer Green was called for a 34-yard pass interference penalty against Moss in the end zone.
Hoard made it 14-7 with a 1-yard run later in the first quarter.
While the Vikings' defense held the Redskins to four first downs and 79 yards in the first half, the offense stagnated until the final drive. Moss caught three passes for 50 yards on that drive, which Cunningham finished with a 1-yard pass to Cris Carter to make it 21-7 with 14 seconds left in the half.
Cunningham, who won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in his last two games before last week's bye, injured his left calf on the play before throwing the TD pass to Carter. He finished 20-for-34 for 259 yards and the two TDs before Jay Fiedler came on with 9:09 left in the game. Cunningham now has 12 TDs and no interceptions in four-plus games in relief of injured starter Brad Johnson, who is expected to miss at least one more game.
Carter had five catches for 109 yards as the Vikings opened a two-game lead over the Packers in the NFC Central.
"I think it says we're humble, we're hungry and we're not looking past anybody," said defensive end Duane Clemons, who had 1 1/2 sacks.
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