LANDOVER — Practically all afternoon, the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers slipped and slid on the grass at FedEx Field. With rain pouring down, the margin of error was slim for both teams as neither of them could move the ball with ease.
But undefeated teams like the San Francisco 49ers find ways to win games when the conditions aren’t ideal.
And lower-tier teams like the Washington Redskins typically tend to blow them.
Due to the miserable conditions, the Redskins relied excessively on the run. Running back Adrian Peterson took seven straight carries to begin the game and Washington didn’t attempt a pass until there was 7:35 left in the first quarter.
Even with the run-heavy approach, the Redskins had success. Wendell Smallwood, filling in for the injured Chris Thompson, gashed San Francisco’s defense for 17 yards. Peterson, on second-and-18, broke through for 13 yards.
But the Redskins‘ drive stalled out just outside the red zone — with kicker Dustin Hopkins missing a 39-yard field goal.
San Francisco, though, couldn’t take advantage of Washington’s miss. Like the Redskins, the 49ers avoided throwing the ball. Entering Sunday, the 49ers, with Kyle Shanahan’s zone-based blocking scheme, were one of the league’s most-efficient rushing attacks — averaging 179.8 yards per game.
The 49ers, too, were a mess offensively. Robbie Gould shanked a 45-yard attempt, sailing it wide left.
But Washington missed another key chance later on. Facing fourth-and-1 from their own 29-yard line, Peterson was swallowed up in the backfield, resulting in a turnover on downs.
At halftime, with both teams scoreless, San Francisco had just five net passing yards. They were the fewest the Redskins held an opponent to in the first half since 1996, when Dallas had minus-7 passing yards.
In the second half, the Redskins continued to miss their chances. Reserve safety Troy Apke, who entered the game after Montae Nicholson exited with an ankle injury, picked off Garoppolo on San Francisco’s opening drive, but Washington immediately squandered it by going three-and-out.
Later on, Garoppolo found wide receiver Richie James Jr. for a 40-yard gain. It was the 49ers’ biggest play of the afternoon — and it turned out to be enough. The reception put San Francisco in field goal range and Gould knocked in a 28-yard attempt to give the 49ers a 3-0 lead.
Trying to answer back, the Redskins moved the ball down the field. Quarterback Case Keenum connected with Jeremy Sprinkle and Trey Quinn, the latter of whom hauled in a 19-yard grab and slid out of bounds.
But just outside the red zone, Peterson then fumbled the ball — ending a promising drive.
Gould then scored a 22-yard field goal, making the 6-0 lead feel insurmountable. It was.
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