The Redskins are falling and even Robert Griffin III can’t help them get up.
In the past four weeks, the Redskins have gone from an exhilarating home win to an oh-so-close road loss to the Super Bowl champs to a loss where they were non-competitive against a good team to today, where they lost 21-13 to a bad Panthers team at FedEx Field.
Griffin said that people were going to criticize the coaches of the now 3-6 Redskins but he put it on the players.
Griffin’s game to game passer rating has gone from star-levels of 97.2 against the Vikings and 108.9 against the Giants to very pedestrian ratings of 72.8 against the Steelers and 74.2 today.
Griffin’s day started out pretty well. On the Redskins’ first drive they moved 68 yards in 12 plays and got a 47-yard Kai Forbath field goal to take a 3-0 lead. On the drive, Griffin completed three of five passes for 30 yards and ran for 20 more.
Carolina scored a touchdown on its ensuing possession to take a 7-3 lead but the Redskins came marching back. They took 17 plays, burned off the last 24 seconds of the first quarter and the first nine minutes and 39 seconds of the second. Washington moved from its own 24 to a first and goal at the Carolina seven. On the drive Griffin was three for four for 26 yards. The Redskins converted two fourth downs during the drive, one on a Griffin pass to Josh Morgan and another one on a quick-hitting Darryl Young run.
But the drive yielded no points because the Redskins couldn’t convert another fourth down. On fourth and goal at the two, Griffin tried to run in around the right side but he ran out of real estate and was pushed out of bounds for no gain.
“I feel it’s on us, the player, to make sure we got out there and play, regardless of what coach says on offense, defense, or special teams,” he said. “We’re the ones out there playing, we’ve got to make plays happen.”
That wasn’t the worst part. The Panthers took the ball at the two and took 12 plays and 4:16 to march 98 yards for a touchdown and at 14-3 it became a bridge too far for the Redskins.
Griffin was sacked four times in the second half. After they fell behind 21-6 they finally got into the end zone but it was a struggle. They moved from their own 40 to the Carolina 37 where they faced fourth and four. Griffin dropped back and then took off up the middle. When two defenders converged to stop him he jumped through them and landed past the sticks. Griffin said that plays like that are intended not just to get the first down but to to send a message.
“Guys see their quarterback out there, putting it on the line, every single play and that makes them want to put it on the line every single play,” he said. “It’s more about inspiring guys to go out and no matter what the score is, no matter what the down or distance, we can make it happen because we’re the ones that are out there.”
They moved to a first and goal at the ten but had two touchdowns called back due to penalties. They finally got in but they the burned a timeout and the two minute warning in between the first touchdown, nullified by a holding penalty, and Evan Royster’s two-yard run with 1:34 to play. By the time they got the ball back only 17 seconds were left and they were beyond desperation.
Griffin did get an X-ray on his ribs after the game. No fractures were found and he said that he will be fine.
Griffin wants to make sure that his teammates remain mentally strong. "Guys just need to continue to make sure they’re tough between the ears,” he said. “You don't want to feel sorry for yourself."
The team now takes next week off before playing the Eagles on November 18. Griffin didn’t say what he was doing during the bye but he almost certainly will be spending some time at Redskins Park.
“I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I promise you I’ll come back and I’ll be a better quarterback the second half of the season for us, for this team, and prayerfully everybody else comes back with the same mindset,” he said.