At 6-6 and just one game out of first place in the NFC East after Monday night’s benchmark 17-16 victory over the New York Giants, the Redskins are players again. They matter. They are contenders.
And RGIII is at the heart of this reversal of a team that managed just five wins while Griffin was at Baylor last season.
How this newcomer to the league has galvanized a franchise and its fan base has been remarkable. With a steely poise and out-of-this-world talent, Griffin has already more than justified the Redskins trading up to No. 1 in the NFL Draft to select him.
It is a rare player and special talent that instills confidence in his team with his presence. It is even more rare when that player is in his first year in the NFL. But that is what Griffin has achieved to this point.
Monday night, in a game that the Redskins had to win to increase their playoff possibilities, Griffin was more sound than spectacular. He led. He passed. He ran. In fact, his 72 yards Monday gave him the single-season NFL record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback with 714.
Even when he fumbled the ball in the first quarter, the ball bounced directly into the hands of receiver Joshua Morgan, who snatched it out of the air and sprinted into the end zone for a touchdown.
He joked afterward that it was a play that the team had practiced. More than anything it exemplified the favorable touch Griffin’s presence has lent the Redskins.
“We have to continue to play every game like it’s our last game,” Griffin said to the NFL Network. “We control our own destiny, which is what we wanted.”
As strong as Griffin was Monday, he was ably aided and abetted by receiver Pierre Garcon, who had eight catches for 106 yards. Griffin’s fellow rookie, running back broke the 1,000-yard barrier with 124 yards rushing despite a second-half fumble when the Redskins were driving.
The Redskins overcame that error by running out the clock in the waning moments. Griffin had two big completions and Morris was bruising running the ball, never allowing the Giants a chance to mount a comeback in the last minute. That was big for the Redskins.
And the defense, which looked miserable at times, only gave up one touchdown. Put it all together, and the Redskins are contenders again. They matter.