“When you’re bad, you have to get good.”
That’s what Robert Griffin III said when talking about some issues the Washington Redskins had with some early drives in their 30-24 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers. But he could have been talking about the 2013 Redskins as a whole.
Griffin and the Redskins aren’t good yet. The team is 3-5 and a game and a half behind the Cowboys for the division lead. After all the numbers are added up Griffin will still be among the league’s lowest ranked quarterback by many statistical measures.
But, on this day they were good when they had to be and the result was a heart-pounding win over he Chargers at FedEx Field.
"We needed this win and our fans needed this win,” said Griffin. “We are thankful for all our fans who believe in us."
That belief was tested severely when the Redskins were protecting a three-point lead but Philip Rivers and company drove to a first and goal at the one. But the defense held and a Nick Novak field goal sent the game into overtime.
Griffin made sure to give the defense some props right off the bat at his postgame press conference. "Let's 1st talk about what the defense did down there on the goal line,” he said. “They really stepped up. It was a great team win."
But it was the offense that got the winning points. The Redskins won the overtime coin toss and took possession at their own 22. Griffin was four of four passing for 39 yards during the drive including a dart over the middle to tight end Jordan Reed that converted a third and eight. Two plays later on first and 20 Griffin again went down the middle, this time to Pierre Garçon for 17 yards. The Chargers’ Andrew Gachkar committed an illegal hit on the play and that tacked on 13 yards to the 13.
Griffin was done for the day after that except for handing off, twice to Alfred Morris and then once to Darrel Young, who scored his third touchdown of the day.
After posting the lowest passer rating of his career last week against the Broncos and taking some heat from fans and some in the local media as a result, Griffin wasn’t great but he was very good. He completed 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass and he threw one interception resulting in a respectable passer rating of 86.8.
Griffin's favorite target was Pierre Garçon and the wide receiver came up big with seven receptions for 172 yards, including some spectacular and critical one-handed grabs.
"Pierre . . . made some catches that were there and made some catches that not many people can make," he said. "So he stepped up and the rest of the receivers followed his lead. It was great to see that, great to see that fire. Great to see him ball out today.
After being bottled up on the ground in Denver Griffin found a little running room, picking up 17 yards on six carries. He also executed option pitches to tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Santana Moss, plays that picked up 18 yards each time.
Griffin’s biggest run came with the score tied at 14 midway through the third quarter. On third and nine at the Chargers 46 he scrambled around left end, cut behind a block near the sideline and took to the air to get a yard past the sticks and pick up a key first down. Seven plays later, early in the fourth quarter, Young blasted in on third and goal at the one and the Redskins had a 21-14 lead.
Griffin has been cautioned to take fewer risks on the field but he wasn't thinking about that. "You just have to make a decision," he said. "A lot of people criticize me for that type of stuff and I could have gone out of bounds and we could have been short of the first down. I saw an opportunity to fly, so I took off and went for it."
The Redskins will be flying in just a few days, on their way to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a Thursday night game. Since Week 4, they have alternated wins and losses, good and bad. The team’s success generally mirrors Griffin’s performance. If Griffin can put up another solid performance, the Redskins will have a very good chance.