What a memorable start to the 2012 season and Robert Griffin III's highly anticipated career. Expectations were high going into the game. By the end, they were raised to a whole another level as the Redskins' rookie out-dueled Drew Brees and the Saints explosive offense. Griffin led the Redskins on eight scoring drives, as the Skins defeated the Saints, 40-32.
We all knew that the Redskins were hiding their game plan over the preseason, but they sure pulled the cat out of the bag Sunday. Passes came almost exclusively out of shotgun and pistol formations. We finally saw the designed runs, zone-option reads, and a ton of miss direction. Kyle Shanahan finally has the quarterback he's always wanted. At times yesterday, it was like I was watching a live Madden game and that's the way this offense is designed.
Griffin threw for 320 yards on 19 of 26 attempts and added two touchdowns (no turnovers). That stat line is a first for any rookie in their NFL debut. RGIII's halftime rating–a perfect 153.8–was also an NFL record. As good as he was Sunday, one can't help but recognize the receiving corps around him.
Eight different Redskins caught a pass from RGIII on the day; seven caught one for 20+ yards. None more memorable than Pierre Garcon's 88-yard score–ironically, that's the number Pierre wears. On the play, Griffin took a lick from the defensive end but cheered from the ground as Garcon out ran the Saints' secondary. Unfortunately, that was the last we saw of 88 yesterday. He hurt his foot on the touchdown run, but said after the game that he expects to play next week versus the Rams.
The Redskins defense played sound ball as well. It's almost tough to say that while giving up 32 points but it's true. Drew Brees and the Saints offense are lethal. There were two plays that stood out early, perfect examples of what to do on defense, when you're playing anybody but Jimmy Graham. The first was obviously the touchdown that gave the Saints their only lead on the day; double teamed–Gomes on top, Fletcher underneath–Graham elevated and wrestled the ball away from both of them for the 20 yard score.
The whole team played with a mystique. I, like many I talked to, was stunned after the game. Yes it was over. And we won. But did that really just happen? The Redskins took control over that game. By the end of the third quarter, all they had to do was not throw it away. The motto: make one more play.
And that's exactly what they did. Dejon Gomes picked off a pass over the middle and returned it within the ten-yard line. Then, Alfred Morris punched it in from three yards out to five the Redskins a 40-25 lead. And Logan Paulsen secured the Redskins final first down on a gutsy call and throw by the Skins.
It was a great day for Redskins fan. It was a great day for the player's confidence. 15 more to go.
After the game, Brees said he was proud of the rookie; "I thought he was extremely impressive." So did I.
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