Redskins hold their breath despite big win
In summary: As exhilarating as the Redskins’ 31-28 overtime victory over the Ravens was, the day's best news for the franchise and its fan base arrived about three hours later: quarterback Robert Griffin III's serious-looking knee injury isn't that serious, after all.
Griffin suffered a sprained right knee in the fourth quarter, and after returning briefly, went to the sideline for good. Around 7:30 p.m., a team spokesman confirmed that Griffin had undergone an MRI and the results were “clear,” presumably meaning the star rookie did not suffer any significant ligament damage.
Coach Mike Shanahan will have a more detailed update at his Monday afternoon press conference, according Tony Wyllie, the Redskins’ senior vice president of communications.
“He has a knee sprain,” Wyllie said. “Everything is clear on the MRI.”
A few minutes later, Griffin posted this message to his Twitter page: “Your positive vibes and prayers worked people!!! To God be the Glory!”
For more on Griffin’s injury, click here. For news, notes and observations on the Redskins' fourth straight victory, keep reading.
Turning point: Ravens’ running back Ray Rice had just scored midway through the fourth quarter to help the visitors seize a 28-20 lead when Niles Paul, named the Redskins’ new kickoff returner before the game, fumbled a kickoff. David Reed pounced on the ball and was ruled to have recovered it inbounds. That ruling, however, was reviewed and eventually reversed. On the ensuing drive, the Redskins scored a touchdown and converted a two-point play to knot the score and force overtime.
Offensive play of the game: Moments after replacing Griffin, backup quarterback Kirk Cousins tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon that trim the Redskins’ deficit to 28-26. Then, with almost no one expecting to Cousins to sneak the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion, that’s exactly what he did, carrying the ball behind Kory Lichtensteiger.
“It was obviously a great call,” Cousins said. “I wouldn’t say surprised because that is a play we feel confident running in the red zone near the goal line.”
Defensive play of the game: London Fletcher’s third interception of the season was another big one. Leading 21-17, the Ravens were at the Redskins’ 11-yard line when Joe Flacco was hit by Ryan Kerrigan, causing his pass to sail off target – and into Fletcher’s hands. Kai Forbath kicked a 49-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to make it a one-point game.
Special teams play of the game: Rookie cornerback Richard Crawford hadn’t suited up in five games. But with Brandon Banks struggling, Coach Mike Shanahan turned to Crawford, who took a Sam Koch punt in overtime 64 yards to the Ravens’ 24-yard line, setting up Forbath’s game-winning kick.
Crawford, who returned punts at SMU and in the preseason for the Redskins, took back three punts for 100 yards. He also got some good-natured ribbing for getting tackled by Koch in overtime.
Injury report: Other than Griffin, no injuries were reported.
Quote of the day: Shanahan on the decision to deactivate Brandon Banks, who entered the game ranked 22nd on punt returns and 25th on kickoffs: “I sat down with Brandon and I said it was going to be a tough decision. I wanted to give [Crawford] a chance to return punts and I’m going to give [Paul] an opportunity.”
Quote of the day, Part II: Richard Crawford on his clutch punt return: “I just seen daylight and ran to the daylight. It felt really good to help out my team because sitting on the sidelines for five weeks, not contributing, hurt me a little bit.”
Game ball: Forbath connected on three field goals – 48, 49 and his first game-winner, the 34-yarder in overtime. The 25-year-old is now 14 for 14. According to Elias, that’s the third longest streak to start a career since the merger.
By the numbers: When Morris was handed the ball for the 236th time in the first quarter, he broke the Redskins’ rookie record for carries in a season. Mike Thomas held the previous mark of 235, established in 1975. Last week, Morris became the franchise’s rookie rushing leader. Morris finished Sunday 23 carries for 122 yards - his third consecutive 100-plus yard game and sixth of the season.
By the numbers, Part II: The four-game winning streak is the Redskins’ longest since 2008. That was also the last time the team was above .500 after 13 games.