A week’s worth of concern over Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s concussed brain was summed up in his 76-yard touchdown run that sealed a 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“I could see guys telling me I got the first down (and) to stay in bounds and slide,” the phenom said after the Redskins ended an eight-game home skid. “They went from ‘Stop, stay in bounds’ to ‘Go for the touchdown.’ It was interesting to see their different reactions.”
There was plenty of reason to worry just a few days ago as Griffin underwent repeated tests to gauge his recovery from a concussion suffered last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Even many in the FedEx Field stands showed an interest in their franchise player’s health with a cheer when Griffin stepped out of bounds in the first half — something he had the chance to do before he was hammered by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon last Sunday.
Fortunately for the Redskins, Griffin’s final decision to run led him to celebrating with fans in the seats rather than seeing his day end in the trainer’s room. With his 138 yards rushing and two TDs, Griffin joined only Philadelphia’s Michael Vick as the only QBs since 1970 to rush for 130 yards and score twice. Griffin was also 17-of-22 passing for 182 yards with a TD and an interception.
“You stay aggressive, but you try to be smart,” Griffin said. “I went out of bounds when I should have. I threw the ball away and got a (roughing the passer) penalty. One time, I ran up the middle, saw the safety coming down and I slid for 7 yards. You have to live with that and not worry about the 8 or 9 yards you could have had.”
That kind of awareness is key, mainly because the Redskins aren’t going to win many games with backups Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman behind center. At 3-3, the Redskins could become contenders in the NFC East with a victory over the New York Giants next week.
Without Griffin? Reference the first two seasons under Redskins coach Mike Shanahan where the ‘Skins were a combined 11-21.
“Every win feels good, man” said fullback Darrell Young, who is in his third season in Washington. “They haven’t been coming too often. I haven’t had a good record in Washington. Now, we’re 3-3. We are in a different place than we were two years ago. The sky’s the limit for this offense. That’s what we were missing.”
Griffin comprehends he’s a cornerstone to the ‘Skins resurgence, so much so that FOXSports.com’s Jay Glazer reported that he gathered the team together on Wednesday and apologized for taking that hit last week. Glazer also reported that the Redskins face a hefty fine for saying Griffin was “shaken up,” rather than immediately calling it a concussion.
“It shows he expects so much out of himself,” Redskins tight end Fred Davis said of the meeting Griffin called. “He doesn’t look at himself as a rookie. He has the starting job and he is trying to do the best to help us win. Getting out of bounds is something that will help us win, unless it’s like (that long TD run) when we needed him.”
The Vikings were definitely hanging around late in the contest, one that they led 9-0 early on before the ‘Skins scored 24 unanswered points. Minnesota cut the deficit to 31-26 when quarterback Christian Ponder found tight end Kyle Rudolph for a one-yard TD with 3:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was third-and-6 on the ensuing Redskins possession when Griffin lined up in the shotgun, a play that was originally designed as a passing play.
“I was at the top of my route and I saw him scrambling,” said receiver Joshua Morgan, who had a key block to help spring Griffin. “We’re told when he starts to run, get the closest man to you. It was a blitz and they missed him. He beat it.”
Griffin quickly broke it outside and down his team’s sideline. He looked back a couple times at safety Jamarca Sanford and a couple other would-be Vikings tacklers as he cruised into the end zone. His final play of the game wasn’t quite as strenuous: a kneel down to run the clock out after Ponder threw a pick.
Not bad for a player who some in media thought should have sat out this week as a precaution.
“A lot of that stuff is going to get back to you,” Griffin said. “For me, I told them that I was going to be honest with them. If I went the whole week and didn’t feel right on game day, I wouldn’t have played. It wouldn’t be right for me. It wouldn’t right for the team. If anything would have happened today there would have been a lot of consequences and repercussions for that.”