Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Near-Perfect Game By Robert Griffin III Helps Redskins Make Mockery Of Eagles
LANDOVER, Md. – Cullen Jenkins saw the flash of yellow land not far from Robert Griffin III’s feet and the exaggerated celebration from the Washington Redskins’ quarterback. Griffin had just unleashed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss and a triumphant fist-pump late in the third quarter, and Jenkins, recognizing the penalty flag, stood in front of Griffin and imitated his celebration.
“I was trying to have some fun with him, to taunt him a little bit and mess with him,” said Jenkins, who hadn’t realized the call was against the Philadelphia Eagles. “And I ended up looking like an idiot.”
Jenkins wasn’t the only player who Griffin made a mockery of on Sunday. The quarterback embarked on a historic performance in Washington’s 31-6 defeat of Philadelphia at FedEx Field, emphatically ending the Redskins’ three-game losing streak with its largest margin of victory in over five years.
Griffin completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns for the Redskins (4-6), and also ran 12 times for 84 yards. He connected with nine different players en route to a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating, with the only incompletion a pass that was broken up late in the second quarter.
“That’s outstanding,” said tight end Logan Paulsen, who caught Griffin’s final touchdown pass, a 17-yarder, early in the fourth quarter. “It’s very, very rare to have that completion percentage, that many touchdowns with that many big plays and no turnovers. I don’t even think that speaks to all the little stuff he did, in terms of extending plays and getting first downs in key situations. He really just – his performance elevated the team today, and I think you know that. You all saw that.”
When the Redskins disembarked for their week off following a loss to Carolina on Nov. 4, Griffin said he planned to return hungrier and more focused for the final stretch of the season. Upon his return, he said he had done just that – and then he demonstrated so on Sunday.
The 61-yard touchdown pass to Moss was amongst his finest moments. Under moderate pressure, Griffin lofted the ball deep to the veteran receiver, only to have him pull the ball down at the Philadelphia 6-yard line between safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Brandon Boykin and then lunge over the goal line.
He also made a series of excellent plays with his feet, prolonging a second-quarter drive by dodging defenders on a 10-yard scramble that saw him scamper out of bounds and swirl away from a potential late hit. That play set up a 49-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson – one in which a missed read by a Philadelphia safety left Robinson all alone in the end zone to catch a pop fly.
“He gave me the perfect ball so I could run for it, and I got it,” Robinson said. “He played great, man. Today was a good day for him. He said all week he wanted to dominate, and he did today.”
For all of Griffin’s mastery, the victory wasn’t entirely on the offense. The defense held Philadelphia (3-7) to 257 yards of offense, by far its best outing of the season, and forced three turnovers – including two interceptions of rookie quarterback Nick Foles in the first quarter and a recovered fumble with nine seconds left in the second quarter.
With such a margin early, the Eagles didn’t have an opportunity to run the ball. Running back LeSean McCoy was held to just 45 yards on 15 carries before leaving with a concussion, though he was Philadelphia’s leading receiver with six catches for 67 yards.
The Redskins had lost their last eight games to rookie quarterbacks, dating back to a 2005 victory over Ryan Fitzpatrick and St. Louis. But Foles, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona, looked lost in the Eagles’ simplified passing game, especially after throwing an interception to cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the first minute and another to the returning Brandon Meriweather seven minutes later.
“I didn’t play well at all,” said Foles, who went 21-for-46 for 204 yards in starting for the injured Michael Vick. “It was a rough game, but I’m going to take the positive and make stuff better.”
Washington had a 17-3 lead at halftime on a six-yard touchdown reception by fullback Darrel Young, Robinson’s reception and a 25-yard field goal by Kai Forbath set up by Ryan Kerrigan’s fumble recovery. Moss’s third-quarter touchdown catch and Paulsen’s touchdown in the fourth were mere punctuation marks on a strong offensive effort.
The Redskins weren’t entirely fluid; receiver Pierre Garçon, returning from a right foot injury that has cost him six games this season, including the last four, had just three receptions for five yards. They also converted only five of 11 third-down opportunities and had 13 penalties for 80 yards.
Still, it was a decent setup for a Thanksgiving showdown at Dallas on Thursday – one that will introduce Griffin to a national audience.
“I didn’t second-guess what my instincts were telling me as far as just being out there, when to throw, when to run, when not to run, when to get down, when to get out of bounds,” Griffin said. “You thank God to be able to have those moments and be able to feel things out the right way, and it all worked out for you.”