A dreadful first-half defensive performance which saw the Washington NFL team surrender 14 points in the final two minutes of the second quarter buried their chances in a 38-30 loss against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 12 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (25) stiff arms Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) during an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

Losing without maximum effort leaves a stain, and the last few minutes of the first half against Minnesota may be a microcosm of this Washington team and its season.

Kirk Cousins continues to make glaring mistakes at the worst time, including a critical interception with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Moments after Vikings receiver Adam Thielen scored a seven-yard touchdown reception to give Minnesota a 21-17 lead with 1:49 remaining in the half, Cousins’ pass intended for Jamison Crowder instead landed in Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander’s lap. Minnesota took full advantage with a one-yard touchdown reception by David Morgan, pushing their lead at halftime to 28-17 with the Vikings receiving the ball in the second half.  

You knew what would happen next, right?

Journeyman QB Case Keenum marched his team down the field on a six-play, 72-yard drive to open the third quarter, capped by a seven-yard touchdown reception by Jarius Wright. That score opened an 18-point lead that would be insurmountable for Washington.

When quarterbacks such as Carson Wentz or even Alex Smith shred your defense, you can chalk it up to those players being supremely talented. But getting carved up by the likes of Keenum should elicit some soul-searching. This is a man playing with his fourth team in four seasons, who entered the game with seven touchdown passes in six starts. Keenum accomplished what no other quarterback has done to Washington this season: throw for 304 yards along with a career-high four touchdowns.

Washington’s secondary has had some pretty solid games as a unit, but their outing against Minnesota just wasn’t one of those days.  There was very little pressure on Keenum, who was not sacked in the game, and when he did feel any sort of pressure, he made plays outside of the pocket at will.

Nine games through another middling campaign, we continue to ask the same questions about this team. Washington is the NFL’s hamster wheel.