- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Robert Griffin III’s first seven NFL games have been filled with memorable moments. Sunday was no exception, considering his fourth-down scramble to keep a drive alive and his perfect 30-yard throw to Santana Moss that gave the Washington Redskins a late lead.

Fortunately for Griffin and the Redskins, there hadn’t been a whole lot of moments when the young quarterback looked like a rookie. Until Sunday, when he coughed the ball up twice in the 27-23 loss to the New York Giants.

“It happens every week whether it be RG3, whether it be Cam Newton, whether it be Tom Brady,” fullback Darrel Young said. “It [stinks] that it has to be us, we have to go through it. You live and you learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes.”

But that’s not justification for Griffin, the second pick in April’s draft who doesn’t want to be judged on a rookie curve.

“I try not to approach the game like I’m a rookie. I don’t try to give myself excuses. I just don’t approach it that way, and the team doesn’t look at me like a rookie, either,” Griffin said. “I’m their leader. I’m their quarterback, so I can’t go out there and say, ‘Well, if I made a mistake it’s because I’m a rookie.’ I have to hold myself accountable for everything.”

Amid a couple of mistakes, an interception on a third-quarter pass intended for Logan Paulsen and a lost fumble on a zone-read run, brought his turnover total to just five. His three interceptions are the fewest by any rookie by far; No. 1 pick Andrew Luck of Indianapolis has seven.

That’s why coach Mike Shanahan said the Redskins had done a good job most of this season not turning the ball over. They were close to tops in the league in turnover ratio, thanks to an opportunistic defense and rookies Griffin and Alfred Morris holding onto the ball.

Sunday, the Redskins committed four turnovers: the interception and fumbles by Griffin, Morris and Moss. Still, they lost after Eli Manning’s 77-yard strike to Victor Cruz just 19 seconds after Moss’ score.

“Usually when you have a team that has four turnovers, there’s no way you can even have an opportunity to win the game,” Morris said. “It just goes to show that we have the weapons, we have something special here. Despite our four turnovers, we still could’ve won the game. It didn’t pan out how we wanted it to, but we just got to learn from it, got to grow from this and get better.”

That’s Griffin’s approach as well. On the interception, it appeared as if Paulsen pulled up on his route, but the 22-year-old took responsibility like a veteran.

“It’s just a miscommunication between me and Logan. I had the ball in my hands and shouldn’t have thrown it,” Griffin said. “Once I pulled it back, I should’ve moved onto my next read or just thrown the ball away. That’s my fault. It’s not his fault. I won’t dish any blame.”

Shanahan, who watched Rex Grossman throw 20 interceptions last season, was not down on Griffin for that mistake.

“You’re going to have interceptions every once in a while. That was an interception,” he said. “Those things do occur. But you’ve got to fight through it.”

Even though Griffin said there were no excuses, his positive spin Sunday included optimism about being so close in spite of the turnovers.

“If we can come back from that and continue to put points up on the board, it’s going to be hard to be stopped,” Griffin said.

The difference moving forward for Griffin and the Redskins is that they will not have tight end Fred Davis, the leading receiver before his season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Returning tight end Chris Cooley was forced to watch the offense jell with the rookie quarterback, but now he could be counted on to contribute significantly.

Someone has to help Griffin out in addition to Morris, who has 658 yards, one yard behind league-leader Arian Foster of Houston. Maintaining the same level of production is the challenge with Davis out.

“We have lost some people. When you lose a guy like [tackle] Jammal Brown, when you lose a guy that gets injured like [former running back Tim] Hightower, you expect people to step up and play at a high level,” Shanahan said. “Now are they going to play at the same level as Fred? Probably not. But you’re hoping that they can get close to it and they can do the things that give you a chance to win.”

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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