There is little left for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to say now.
The playoffs long ago fell out of reach for his team. There is nothing left to play for now besides pride and teammates. Not even Griffin’s best first half of the season, a 16-for-17 passing performance where almost everything he threw was on target, could take away the sting of yet another loss, this time 24-17 to the New York Giants.
“We’re sitting here – I think our record is 3-9 now – and I just think we’re too good to be a 10-loss football team,” Griffin said. “Other people will look at it and say that’s what we are and think that guys are going to quit, but like I told them after the game: I’ll go to war with any of them.”
That and four more games are all that’s left of the 2013 season. A team that figured it could defend its NFC East division title and make some noise in the playoffs, instead is left preparing for next year.
Griffin didn’t it many big plays in the first half. His longest was a 20-yard pass on a check down to running back Roy Helu. Those 16 passes netted only 149 yards. But with running back Alfred Morris, the NFL’s leading rusher entering the game, targeted by New York, Griffin had plenty of room to run. He carried the ball seven times for 53 yards in the first half and helped push Washington to a 14-0 lead thanks in part to a no-huddle attack that gave the Giants fits.
“They have a lot of things at their disposal,” New York defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. “We knew that they were going to come out and give us something that we haven’t seen before. We knew it was going to be up-tempo. We had to weather the storm.”
The Redskins managed just a field goal after that, however – and even that was because of a Giants turnover deep. Griffin finished the game with 88 rushing yards on 12 carries, including a long of 20, and completed 24 of 32 passes for 207 yards. He had a touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen. He was not intercepted. And yet it wasn’t enough as New York rallied for the victory.
“That offense is tough when you have time to decipher before the snap. But when they are going [no-huddle] it is almost impossible,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. “But fortunately for us we kind of weathered that storm…When we were 14-0 we needed to do something drastic…Luckily for us our offense went out and got some points and got us off the field for a little bit.”
Tuck, who entered the game with just 2.5 sacks, finished with four of his team’s five on the night. Once Washington fell behind 21-17 early in the fourth quarter, he and his teammates were able to finally pressure Griffin consistently.
Tuck earned two of his sacks on the ensuing series after the Giants took the lead for the first time on an Andre Brown touchdown run. On three fourth-quarter drives, Washington never made it onto New York’s side of the field.
“We were gelling early on, putting points up. Moved the ball really well,” Griffin said. “And in the second half we just shot ourselves in the foot, got in some bad situations, weren’t converting on third downs. You’ve just got to make plays on those longer distances.”