RG3 not perfect, but plenty good enough

RG3 not perfect, but plenty good enough
December 23, 2012, 6:45 pm
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RG3 is focused on the Cowboys...

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Robert Griffin III’s return to the lineup after missing a game with a knee injury was not his most impressive or prettiest game. But it was good enough to help the Redskins get their sixth straight win to set up their biggest game in years. The Dallas Cowboys come to FedEx Field next Sunday and if the Redskins win they will claim their first division title since 1999.

“Everybody is just dialed in now,” said the rookie quarterback. “We know that we can win any kind of game we have to whether it’s a high scoring game or a low scoring game or a gut-wrencher at the end.”

This one went in the latter category. The Redskins took a 27-13 lead late in the third quarter but they had to hang on for dear life at the end. The Eagles scored to make it a one-touchdown game. It wasn’t over until Nick Foles was called for intentional grounding on a play that started from the Redskins’ five with eight seconds left. That penalty ran off the final second of the clock and the Redskins got out of town with a 27-20 win.

Griffin played with a brace to protect the strained LCL on his right knee. It did slow him down some.

“Any time you wear a brace . . . it’s going to restrict your motion,” he said. “From that, my mobility was down a little bit. At the same time I could do what a quarterback’s supposed to do.”

Mike Shanahan said that they cut back on their designed option runs for Griffin. “We did not do everything that we would normally do,” he said. “I did not want to put pressure on that LCL.”

Griffin showed no signs of rust as he completed his first four passes. But that drive fizzled on downs. The Redskins trailed 7-0 after the first quarter and it was 7-6 late in the second when Griffin heated up. Washington scored touchdowns on three if its next four possessions (not counting a one-play kneel down right before the half).

They got a short field to work with for the first one after London Fletcher picked off a Nick Foles pass and returned it to the Eagles 25. Three plays later Griffin threw a bubble screen to Josh Morgan, who followed a nice block by Pierre Garçon and lunged into the end zone to complete an 11-yard touchdown play.

The Redskins got the second-half kickoff and marched 72 yards in just five plays. Griffin hit both of his passes on the drive for 50 yards. One was a deep sideline pass to Garçon for 29, the other a short pass where Niles Paul showed some speed and moves to pick up 21. Alfred Morris did the rest of the work, running three times for 22 yards including the final 10 untouched for a touchdown to put Washington up 20-10.

Griffin was finding his vintage form, firing passes confidently and on the money. He said he got a lot of help.

“Everybody stepped up big,” said Griffin. “I went out there and hit guys who were wide open because they ran their routes the right way, the offensive line gave me time with their blocking and Alfred gained us all those tough yards. It all accumulates and eventually you’re going to break through.”

Eventually, they did. The Eagles went for it on fourth and two at the Redskins 47. Foles was pressured and was sacked. Morris carried three times for 21 yards and Evan Royster picked up seven for a first down at the 22. After two incompletions, Griffin threw right on the money to Moss.

But it wasn’t over yet. The Eagles, playing what likely will be their last home game under longtime head coach Andy Reid, had plenty of fight left in them. They ended what surely would have been a dagger of a drive with an interception. The pass bounced off of Josh Morgan and into the hands of safety Colt Anderson. It was the first pick Griffin had thrown since Thanksgiving and Philly’s first interception in the last seven games.

Griffin took responsibility for the turnover, saying he should have gone to a checkdown receiver. “We had a cornerback on his back and a safety in front of him” he said. “I was trying to protect him on the pass that I threw to him and give him a chance to make the play. Tipped balls get picked and at the end of the day I have the ball in my hands and I shouldn’t have thrown it.”

The Eagles drove for a score and on the final possession the defense was able to hang on for dear life.

Griffin finished the game completing 16 of 24 passes for 198 yards with two touchdowns and the one interception. That came to a QB rating of 102.4. That doesn’t quite match up to the perfect passer rating he had the last time the two teams played in the first game of the Redskins’ current streak but it was good enough for their sixth straight win and keep their playoff fate firmly in their grasp.

Asked how long he planned to celebrate this win he said, “I’ll probably think about the Cowboys after we land.”

It’s not much more than about a 30-minute flight, so Griffin is going to start focusing on the next opponent very soon.