- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Pierre Garcon caught the high pass from Robert Griffin III and tried to turn on the afterburners.

“The end zone looked like it was far,” he said. “I looked on the screens a couple of times like, ‘Gosh.’ But I’m glad it worked out for us.”

It worked out on that play, an 88-yard touchdown that sparked the Washington Redskins‘ 40-32 season-opening victory against the New Orleans Saints. But the rest of the afternoon didn’t go as planned for Garcon, who didn’t appear on the field again after suffering a right foot injury.

The 26-year-old hurt his foot on the touchdown, which was the longest Redskins pass play since 1987. He still finished the game with the most receiving yards on the team with 109 because he was a popular target early on.

“I’m glad we’ve got Pierre on our football team, to say the least,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “He’s a big-play guy. He wants the football, so we gave it to him early and he made a number of big plays.”

Garcon, who caught Griffin’s first three passes, had his back stretched out and missed some plays but didn’t seem to be bothered by that.

X-rays on the foot were negative, Shanahan said, but Garcon was too sore to return. The receiver was optimistic about his short-term future.

“I’m feeling good. Should be good to go next week,” he said. “We’ll get it checked on, I’ll be ready back for St. Louis.”

If Garcon is good to go next week at the level he was on the 88-yarder, the Rams could be in trouble. It was the kind of play the Redskins expected when they signed him in the offseason, turning a short catch into a crowd-killer just one play from scrimmage after the Saints took a 7-3 lead.

“It was a momentum shift. It was very important; it was a game-changer,” he said. “We really needed that. It came at a great time. We got lucky and caught them out of position. It was a great call by coach; coach was expecting it before the play, and it worked perfectly like we drew it up.”

Perhaps not exactly, unless Kyle Shanahan knew that the Saints would put safety help on Josh Morgan instead of Garcon. Leaving the Redskins‘ top receiver in one-on-one coverage was a big mistake.

Morgan was laid out after Garcon made the catch, but it was worth it.

“I told ‘P’ on his touchdown pass that he’s going to thank me when he watches the film,” Morgan said. “I got two people up out of there for him.”

Garcon did the rest, outracing safety Patrick Robinson to the end zone and making Griffin’s first NFL touchdown pass a memorable one.

Obviously, the Redskins are at their best in the passing game with Garcon healthy, as he proved in the first quarter. Yet the most satisfying part was that the Redskins‘ offense kept churning even without Garcon. Aldrick Robinson stepped in for Garcon and made four catches for 52 yards.

“I know ‘P’ wants to get healthy and get back on that field ASAP, man. It just [stinks] for him that he started the game the way he started it and had to sit out through the injury and everything,” Morgan said. “I think Aldrick came in there and did a great job. That’s how it’s supposed to be; it’s not supposed to be a fall-off from the 1s to the 2s to the 3s. Everybody that’s dressing is supposed to come out there and play like the star.”