The fans wearing white and burgundy jerseys jumped and hollered as Robert Griffin III tucked the ball and ignited the afterburners in those magic legs of his. They had waited almost 13 months for their beloved Washington Redskins to give them something to cheer. And as Griffin blazed past the defense 76 yards into the end zone, they finally had it.
“That,” left tackle Trent Williams said, “is why he’s on all the Subway commercials.”
Griffin’s electrifying fourth-quarter run capped the Redskins‘ first complete performance of coach Mike Shanahan’s third season. Washington’s offense regained its edge with Griffin actively running the ball again, and safety Madieu Williams punctuated a stout defensive effort with an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
And when the puzzle pieces came together, the final picture was a 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Washington survived the Vikings‘ fourth-quarter rally to end its eight-game home losing streak. The 78,476 fans who witnessed Griffin’s run left FedEx Field buzzing. He’s not too good to be true. This is indeed the quarterback of their team.
“It’s something special that I can do personally,” Griffin said. “It was fun to be able to show everybody that and to help us win the game doing it.”
The win was a counterpunch by a desperate Redskins team on the brink of losing their season. With road trips to New York and Pittsburgh the next two weeks, they were staring at a worst-case scenario of 2-6.
Instead, they improved to 3-3 and moved into a tie with Philadelphia for second place in the NFC East. The winner of next week’s game against the Giants would, at worst, tie for the division lead.
They did it by putting everything together, finally. Griffin returned from last week’s concussion and sparked the offense with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. The undercard was a 7-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw in the third quarter. The main event was his 76-yard sprint. It was everything the Redskins dreamed when they traded three first-round draft picks and a second-rounder to draft this bolt of lightning.
“That’s why he he’s here,” receiver Santana Moss said. “That’s why they rant and rave about him.”
The Redskins‘ 31-12 lead had slipped to 31-26 late in the fourth quarter. This was progressing toward becoming the second crushing collapse of the weekend in D.C. sports.
Washington, however, has Robert Griffin III, the 22-year-old who set national track records in high school. Granted, those were in the hurdles, and he didn’t have to jump anyone on his way to the end zone. But, oh my, did he leave a trail of fire.
Griffin dropped back to pass on third and 6 from the Redskins‘ 24 with 2:56 remaining. As he reached the top of his drop, a hole opened on the left side of the offensive line. The Vikings‘ blitzed up the middle, and the Redskins blocked it.
“I was thinking I’m either going to throw hot, or if they miss this blitz and don’t hit it the right way, then I’m going to run for the first,” Griffin said. “I saw that they missed it, took off running.”
He eluded the reach of a diving defender at the line of scrimmage and then broke into the open field. He cut outside to the Redskins‘ sideline behind receiver Joshua Morgan’s exceptional block of defensive back Chris Cook.