When Robert Griffin III reared back and let the ball fly down the field in Santana Moss' direction, he was reminded of a lesson his college coach at Baylor, Art Briles, imparted on him.
"He always told me as a freshman that [there's a] difference between playing fearless and being stupid," Griffin said. "You just have to be able to tiptoe that line."
Griffin tiptoes that line all the time. More apt to take risks with his body in the open field than with the football, Griffin knew that if his pass to Moss was intercepted, it would've been a stupid play.
"But because it was a touchdown," he said, "it was fearless."
That was his game Sunday: fearless without being reckless. Every risk was worth the gamble, and every decision was a smart one. Everything was coming up Griffin as the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback's all-around game came into even sharper focus.
"I didn't second-guess what my instincts were telling me as far as just being out there: When to throw, when not to throw, when to run, when not to run, when to get down, when to get out of bounds," Griffin said. "You thank God to be able to have those moments and feel things out the right way, and it all works out for you."
By the numbers, Griffin was almost perfect. He finished 14-of-15 passing for 200 yards and four touchdowns; his completion percentage of 93.3 was the second-best in the NFL this season.
The miss was late in the second quarter, when Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie batted down a pass intended for Joshua Morgan.
"Except for that one incompletion, I thought he was OK," coach Mike Shanahan said jokingly.
Griffin was in control, even when decisions to take off for the sideline or pass up an open receiver could have been second-guessed. There will be time for questioning Griffin moving forward, but Sunday there was just awe of a special game.
"He's shown us so much this season. I think he's just kind of building on what he's already shown us," tight end Logan Paulsen said. "Obviously, he had a fantastic game today, but we knew that he was capable of stuff like this from pretty much training camp. ... He showed us some great things, but we were fully expecting him to do that."
Redskins players are so used to Griffin's abilities that Moss joked "I'm tired of talking about Robert." But each new week brings a different level of appreciation.
When the Redskins faltered in losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers, Griffin wasn't to blame, but when he wasn't at his best it was worth wondering what could have gone differently if he was. In the Redskins' 31-6 win Sunday, it was evident what he means not only to the franchise's long-term future but this team on a week-by-week basis.
"He really ignites our fire," Moss said. "And when he's going well and doing his thing and he's in a groove, he's on fire, then he just rubs off on everybody else. I'm glad to have a guy like that."
Griffin is glad to be able to lift teammates up. This was his first of what should be many games as a Redskins captain, and his confident leadership preceded even that honor.
"He said all week he wanted to dominate, and that's what he did today," wide receiver Aldrick Robinson said. "He said he wanted to dominate. He dominated."
Fullback Darrel Young said that's nothing new. Griffin says that every week.
But to hear that message and see him make all the right moves had Redskins players dreaming about what will be with Griffin.
"It's just him. I'm not surprised," Young said. "The sky's the limit where he's going to go. He's just starting out, man. You're going to see this for another 15, 16, 17 years."
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