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Vikings-Redskins matchup of the day: Tuesday

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Dec. 20, 2011 @ 6:20 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here is a key matchup in Saturday's Vikings-Redskins matchup in Washington:

Vikings front seven vs. Redskins run game

The Redskins have gone from starving Roy Helu for carries early in the season to stuffing his face. He is the first Redskins back to have 20-plus carries in four consecutive games since 2008 (Clinton Portis) and has shown his toughness. Even as the Giants shut him down, holding him to 2.3 yards per carry, the Redskins were able to pound the ball and control the clock. It's all part of the plan Mike Shanahan has wanted to install since taking the job.

Before that game, Helu had three 100-yard outings in a row. Add in Evan Royster, who has been thrown into the mix with 36 yards on 10 carries Sunday, and the Redskins are showing they want to pound it, even without three-fifths of their starting offensive line intact. It's better that than ask the young group to pass-block 40 times per game.

The Redskins' longest run on Sunday was a 14-yarder, and 21 of their 123 yards (on 40 carries) came on end-arounds (14 by Anthony Armstrong and seven by Niles Paul). Helu, Royster and FB Darrel Young (who scored a TD on four carries) could muster a long rush of only eight yards between them, but they kept the chains moving and the offense on the field. The Redskins finished with a 35:00-25:00 time-of-possession edge.

Lost in the Vikings' loss to the Saints, which featured a near-perfect passing day from Drew Brees, was the poor run defense. It wasn't awful, but the Vikings allowed 4.2 yards per carry on 38 runs. That's unacceptable.

Chad Greenway has taken a step backward this season, E.J. Henderson might be playing in his penultimate game as a Viking, and the defensive line appears more bent on rushing upfield to take down opposing quarterbacks and worried less with containing run-gap control.

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