With an impressive, one-handed interception and a crucial sack in the fourth quarter, linebacker Preston Smith led Washington’s NFL team to a 26-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 13 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) is sacked by Washington Redskins linebacker Preston Smith (94) and safety Su’a Cravens (36) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Washington defeated Minnesota 26-20. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Washington (5-3-1) scored the game’s first points when wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught a touchdown throw from quarterback Kirk Cousins for a 7-0 lead. One play earlier, Cousins was nearly intercepted at the goal line, but two Minnesota linebackers collided and dropped the interception.

Minnesota’s defense has struggled to cover tight ends this season, and Cousins made sure to exploit that weakness. In the first minute of the second quarter, Cousins threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis to give Washington a 14-0 lead. Davis and tight end Jordan Reed had a combined five receptions for 107 yards.

Washington Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder (80) carries the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

After a slow first half, the Vikings finally put points on the board when running back Matt Asiata scored on a one-yard run to make it 14-7. On their next offensive possession, Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph to even the score at 14-14.

With less than a minute left in the first half, Washington running back Chris Thompson had the ball stripped, and Minnesota recovered at Washington’s 33-yard line. Wide receiver Adam Thielen scored on a three-yard pass as time expired to put Minnesota up, 20-14, at halftime.

Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins scored a pair of field goals in the third quarter to tie the game at 20. Although Washington dominated the third quarter, its struggles in the red zone—a trend this season—resulted in little to show.

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (25) carries the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Hopkins converted a 50-yard field goal with nine minutes left to play to reclaim the lead for Washington, 23-20.

On Minnesota’s next drive, Bradford’s throw was picked off by Smith, who only needed one hand to make the critical interception. Washington capitalized on the turnover with another Hopkins field goal, this one from 28 yards, to extend their lead to 26-20.

Still, Smith wasn’t done. The linebacker sacked Bradford on fourth down in the final play of the game to secure the much-needed win for Washington.

Cousins completed 22 of 33 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, while Bradford was 31-for-40 with 307 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Washington running back Robert Kelley, replacing Matt Jones, had 22 carries for 97 yards, part of 389 yards of total offense for Washington.

Next: Washington will play the Green Bay Packers at home on Nov. 20 at 8:30 p.m.

Breana Pitts

Special to the AFRO