- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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Williams 'more fired up than I've ever seen him': With the Vikings down 24-14 at halftime, having gone 14 straight possessions at home without forcing a punt, defensive coordinator Alan Williams turned up the volume. He got "more fired up than I've ever seen him," according to coach Leslie Frazier, and let defenders know they weren't getting the job done. In the second half, the Vikings allowed just 145 yards and three points. It has been a tough season for the second-year defensive coordinator, and things reached a head last week when defensive linemen Brian Robison and Kevin Williams criticized Williams' decision not to bring more pressure on the Cowboys' game-winning drive. On the final three plays of the game Thursday, the Vikings brought six, six and five men, respectively, to pressure Robert Griffin III.
Patterson catches -- not returns -- a TD: Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson only returned two kickoffs for 37 yards, as the Redskins kicked off short in an effort to avoid the explosive return man. But Patterson finally got more involved in the Vikings passing game, playing 21 snaps and catching a 19-yard touchdown from Christian Ponder on a crossing route. The Vikings used all five of their receivers for at least 17 snaps Thursday night, as they put Ponder in the shotgun for 14 of his 23 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
New (old) nose tackle: With both Letroy Guion and Fred Evans out because of injuries, the Vikings needed to move someone to nose tackle, and that job fell to the man who has defined the 3-technique tackle position for a decade: Kevin Williams. The six-time Pro Bowler lined up at the nose all night, with rookie Sharrif Floyd at the 3-technique tackle, and playing a season-high 63 snaps, Williams had his finest night in several years. He posted 2.5 sacks -- the third-highest single-game total of his career. "It's just something we had to do," Williams said. "Somebody had to get in there, and I just had to embrace."
Last-minute timeouts: For the fifth time this year, the Vikings defense was on the field trying to protect a lead in the final minute of the game. The defense had failed in three of the first four instances, including last week in Dallas. But with the Redskins driving Thursday night, Frazier called a pair of timeouts. The Redskins were out of timeouts, and the move appeared to irk a few of Frazier's players -- cameras caught wide receiver Greg Jennings throwing his hands up after the second timeout -- but Frazier said he wanted to give his defense, which spent 36:01 on the field, a break, while trying to save some time in case the Vikings got the ball back. "I’ve learned in my short time as a head coach that you better do it the way you believe in doing it because you don’t have a chance to do this for very long, so you don’t want to have any regrets," Frazier said. "Our players, they’re thinking about what they need to think about, but I’ve got to think about the total picture, so no big deal."