In his NFL debut Sunday in New Orleans, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III displayed more than skill and talent. He displayed poise. He displayed leadership. And he displayed he’s a winner.
Executing a Redskins’ offense that was unimaginative and unproductive last year, Griffin was sensational. He passed the ball with accuracy and commanded the huddle. Ultimately, he led Washington to a rousing 40-32 victory at the Mercedes Benz Bowl, a surprising result considering the Saints preseason position as a Super Bowl contender and the Redskins’ ranking as a a rebuilding team.
It may be that they will struggle down the road and that Griffin plays like the other four first-year starting quarterbacks did Sunday — erratically in losing efforts. But for the moment, the Redskins in general and Griffin in particular have advanced hope into inspiration.
Griffin was 19-for-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns — a remarkable effort for a rookie quarterback, even the No. 2 pick in the draft. He completed his first seven passes, including an 88-yard connection under pressure to free agent acquisition Pierre Garcon.
Griffin finished the first half with a perfect 158.3 passer rating, the first time a rookie had done so with 10 or more attempts.
Another Washington rookie, running back Alfred Wilson, rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
It was a stunning defeat for the Saints, who had been mired in the infamous bounty program scandal but received news Friday that a three-man panel overturned commissioner Roger Goodell’s history-making suspensions, including a year ban for linebacker Jonathan Vilma. However, the reversals did not apply to head coach Sean Payton. And without Payton, the Saints looked ordinary, whether it was his absence or the Redskins’ play.
No one would have guessed that Griffin would outplay Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees, who completed less than 50 per cent of his 52 passes. He had three touchdowns and two interceptions — a line most would have expected from Griffin instead of the veteran Brees.
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