ATLANTA — Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been one of the few bright spots in a difficult season.
That trend continued on Sunday in a 27-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Garcon didn’t have his usual quarterback after Washington deactivated Robert Griffin III and started backup Kirk Cousins instead.
No matter. Garcon finished with seven receptions on 10 targets for 129 yards. That included a 53-yard touchdown reception that pulled the Redskins within 17-14 after falling behind by two scores early.
“It was no real difference. Both of them are quarterbacks,” Garcon said. “They always try to get me the ball, so you know, I’m always appreciative of that. No matter who throws it to me, I’m gonna do my best to catch it and make plays for them.”
And he’s backed up those words all season. Garcon now has 96 catches in 2013, which is the second-most in a single season in franchise history. He passed teammate Santana Moss, who had 93 in 2010. Only Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Art Monk has done better when he produced 106 receptions in 1984. And Garcon still has two games left to get the 11 catches needed to pass Monk for the team record.
Garcon’s touchdown reception was his fourth of the year. It was also his longest catch of the season. Cousins pump faked to draw the Atlanta defensive back in and Garcon streaked past two of them down the right sideline, catching the ball in stride at the 25 and coasting into the end zone.
“It was just a great call by [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan,” Garcon said. “He saw things throughout the week, and he said they’re gonna call it, and it worked to perfection.”
RG3 sits and watches
Griffin couldn’t have envisioned a scenario this season where he would be healthy, but not playing. That’s exactly what happened when coach Mike Shanahan deactivated this week.
FOX television cameras were constantly on Griffin throughout the game, waiting for any sign of negative body language. Other than a loud curse of frustration on the final play of the game – the failed 2-point conversion attempt – there wasn’t any.
Griffin was constantly shown talking with Cousins on the bench. He offered encouraging words after one interception, patting Cousins on the shoulder pads. But after a second key interception in the fourth quarter both men had nothing left to say, sitting silently next to each other on the bench as Cousins had his head bowed.
From the start it looked like a rough day for Redskins left guard Trent Williams, who played most of the game despite a sprained right knee sustained at10:38 of the second quarter on an 18-yard pass from Cousins to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. Williams quickly returned to the contest, but was clearly laboring later. On one play in the second half, Williams got up slowly from the turf but angrily waved trainers off the field as they ran out to assist him.
Fullback Darrel Young, playing for the first time since the Nov. 17 game against Philadelphia, wasn’t so lucky. He aggravated the hamstring injury that has bothered him for weeks, leaving the game in the second quarter. Young did not return. And that’s been a loss for Washington, which has missed his physical presence. The Redskins finished with 103 rushing yards on 21 carries, including 98 from Alfred Morris. His longest of the game was a 37-yarder that set up a Fred Davis touchdown catch.
“We were more physical than them at the point of attack and I was able to find some holes,” Morris said. “The o-line did a great job and when [Young] was in there he did a great job, especially on that big run I had. [Young] had a great block. If it wasn’t for that block, it would have been a minimal gain.”
Defensive end Chris Baker, starting for the first time in his career, left the game briefly in the first half with an undisclosed lower-body injury, but returned. Cornerback E.J. Biggers suffered a right knee sprain in the second half, but said he was ready to come back into the game if it went to overtime.