The Robert Griffin III of 2012 was back for some of the game on Sunday night in Dallas. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there consistently enough or for long enough to keep the Washington Redskins from falling to the Cowboys 31-16 and dropping to 1-4 on the season.
The Redskins now trail the Cowboys and Eagles, both 3-3, in the NFC East. Griffin said that the team would keep fighting.
“There’s no quit in this team, period,” he said. “You’ll never see us go out there an quit. I tell it to the guys every single time we’re out there, ‘If you don’t want to be out here to win, don’t come.’”
Maybe it would have helped if Griffin could have played special teams. The Redskins allowed an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a 15-yard touchdown drive. Dwayne Harris made both of the killer returns. That kept the Cowboys in control of the game at a time when their offense was struggling.
Griffin started off well. On the Redskins’ first possession he completed four of five passes for 42 yards and ran twice for 22 yards. He was confident throwing the ball and cutting upfield on his running attempts. However, in what would become a familiar theme for the night, the drive stalled and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal.
But after that first drive Griffin was up and down. He finished the night with 19 completions on 39 attempts, a completion percentage of 48.7. In his 19 previous career games he had completed fewer than half of his passes just once (vs. Steelers last year). Griffin threw for 246 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
“We’re close on offense but close doesn’t do it in this league,” said Griffin.
As noted, Griffin did look much better running the ball. He ran nine times for 77 yards and on top of that he drew two 15-yard penalties when he was hit late scampering out of bounds.
In the Redskins’ first four games, Griffin ran for a total of 72 yards. In 2012 he ran for 820 yards (an average of 55 yards in his 15 games).
“I just think we had the opportunity [to run] and I took advantage of it,” said Griffin.
“You could see that he moved better, you could see that some of that speed was back,” said Mike Shanahan. “He made some big plays running the football.”
Despite the special teams problems, the Redskins and Griffin still had a chance to take the lead after Alfred Morris scampered 45 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to pull Washington within five at 21-16. The much-maligned Redskins defense, which played pretty well all night, forced a three and out.
A 17-yard pass from Griffin to Leonard Hankerson got the Redskins into Dallas territory. Griffin ran for five yards to set up a first and 10 at the 30. But after a run for a loss of one and two incompletions, Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal and that was the beginning of the end.
The Dallas offense came alive and drove to a field goal to put the home team up by eight.
Then, on second and 19 from the Washington 11, Griffin went back to pass. He looked through his progression but backup defensive end Kyle Wilber came up behind him and knocked the ball out of his hands. Wilber recovered the fumble at the three and Joseph Randle put the game out of reach with a one-yard touchdown run.
Griffin held the ball for a long time, too long according to Shanahan. “Once you get back there you have to get rid of that ball very quickly,” he said.
“I went through my reads, the pocket collapsed, got hit,” said Griffin. I tried to hold onto the ball and they just got it.”