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'Skins become viable contender in win

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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez previously worked at USA Today, AOL and CBSSports.com, covering beats ranging from performance-enhancing drugs to the NHL. He has also been a finalist for an Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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LANDOVER, MD

Robert Griffin III headed to the locker room with his right knee braced as the Washington Redskins completed another comeback. His backup helped secure a 31-28 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The Redskins’ franchise star was diagnosed with a knee sprain, a determination confirmed by an MRI exam. Hours earlier and without the need for such high-tech analytical devices, something else became clear: The Redskins are legitimately in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Of course, those chances of moving from contender to an actual playoff berth for the first time since 2007 could hinge on when Griffin is able to return. The Redskins (7-6) kept pace with the NFC East-leading New York Giants (8-5).

“I’ll still be able to run and do those things if it’s just a real bad bruise,” said Griffin, who walked slowly (although minus crutches) to the podium after the game and before the MRI. “If it’s anything else, like I told coach (Mike Shanahan), I’ll fight through it and I’ll be playing next week."

As Griffin’s status for Week 15 remains uncertain, Redskins rookie Kirk Cousins showed — albeit very briefly — that he is a capable substitute. The Redskins, overall, also proved they are more than just a team being carried by 2011’s Heisman Trophy winner, the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

“A lot of guys stepped up,” Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon said. “Kirk stepped up great, (we) ran the ball well (and) did a lot of things great things.”

While the Redskins defense surrendered three Joe Flacco passing touchdowns and 218 total yards in the first half, it buckled down the rest of the way and held the Ravens to 55 yards through the air in the second half.

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Ravens running back Ray Rice also saw his output slashed, although he still finished with 121 yards rushing and one touchdown.

The Redskins also recovered a Flacco fumble and linebacker London Fletcher hauled in an interception on the Ravens’ first two drives of the second half.

In overtime, the Redskins forced a three-and-out. Enter Richard Crawford, who put the Redskins well into field goal range with a 64-yard return. Two plays (and a Ravens offside penalty) later, Kai Forbath ended the game with a 34-yard field goal.

“We are very fortunate and very pleased to be in this situation,” veteran Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “As far as saying we’ve done something, we really haven’t. Our goal hasn’t been accomplished yet.”

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In the aftermath of the Redskins’ second major victory in six days — Washington edged the New York Giants, 17-16, in Week 13 — the focus, as expected, reverted back to Griffin.

Griffin initially left the game after he was leveled by Ravens lineman Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard collision with two minutes left in regulation that snapped Griffin’s knee in the opposite direction it was designed to bend.

The Redskins’ prized quarterback came back for four plays — completing passes to Moss (15 yards) and Garcon (22 yards) — before he limped off in obvious pain after an intentional grounding call.

His every move was closely monitored as Griffin lay on the training table along the FedEx Field sideline, their view partially obstructed by a Redskins player using his parka as a shield.

"I knew as soon as I got hit, as I screamed like a man, of course, I knew I hurt it really bad," Griffin said, joking about the attention the injury garnered.

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Cousins came in and tossed a 15-yard pass to receiver Leonard Hankerson before completing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Garcon with 29 seconds remaining in regulation.

Cousins then did his best Griffin impression, sneaking the ball into the end zone on a QB draw for the game-tying two-point conversion.

“As far as words said between Robert and I, I told him, ‘Let’s try to make the playoffs now. Let’s make the playoffs,’” said Cousins, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Michigan State. “I have to approach it like I have since Day 1 when I came here. That is, to think like I am the starter and prepare like I am the starter.”

Tagged: Redskins, Ravens, Pierre Garcon, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin

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