- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2014

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III showed up to the postgame interview room with silver crutches, a blue T-shirt, layers of Ace bandage wrapped around his ankle and a surprisingly positive demeanor. He hopped up to the stage that held the podium, beginning to learn again what life on crutches is like.

“In moments like these, you’ve just got to keep the faith,” Griffin said. “Stay with it. Believe everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan.”

Griffin grotesquely dislocated his left ankle Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars and is out for a yet-to-be determined amount of time. An MRI and other tests will be taken Monday. Afterward, Griffin will know his fate for the remainder of the season. It appears bleak.

Rolling hard right in the first quarter, Griffin planted his left foot then turned over his left ankle. He was able to then put his right leg down, throw across his body and complete a 19-yard pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Griffin landed out of bounds and remained down. He was immediately surrounded by doctors, including team doctor James Andrews, and teammates. Griffin stayed down on the Redskins’ sideline between the bench and field for several minutes. “Hail to the Redskins!” was pumped through speakers and bellowed by fans following a touchdown by fullback Darrel Young as Griffin pulled off his helmet while on the ground. His replacement, Kirk Cousins, had thrown a 20-yard touchdown pass to Young.

“It was just an unfortunate situation because it wasn’t on a hit or anything,” Griffin said. “It’s just something that happened.”

He eventually was driven off the field on a cart, anguish on his face and a black air cast on his lower left leg. Griffin waved and gave a thumbs up as he disappeared into the home team tunnel.

It’s the second significant injury in Griffin’s NFL career, which was just starting its third season. Griffin, 24, damaged his anterior cruciate ligament during a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks in his rookie season. He had ACL reconstruction and lateral collateral ligament surgery after that season. The following year, he was benched for the final three games of the season to protect his health, according to then-coach Mike Shanahan.

Griffin also tore his right ACL in the third game of his sophomore season at Baylor. He’s been supported by crutches more than he could have envisioned.

When Griffin injured his knee nearly two years ago, he tried to get up. That was not the case Sunday.

“It’s excruciating pain,” Griffin said. “I think any time you look at your ankle and it’s in a different direction, you’re probably not going to try to get up. I was just trying to make sure I wasn’t doing any more damage to it. I just stayed there and waited for the trainers to come and help me.”

He was off to a crisp start Sunday. Griffin was 2-for-3 for 38 yards passing and ran twice for 22 yards. A week after not using zone-read running plays, the Redskins ran the play twice on their first two possessions. Griffin kept the ball on each as opposed to handing to the running back. Both carries produced a first down and no hits on the quarterback.

The bubbling of a big day for Griffin ended with the first-quarter rollout. One of the first people to reach the wounded Griffin was coach Jay Gruden. Griffin was also the first thing on Gruden’s mind postgame.

“I know he’s sick about it and I’m sick about it for him,” Gruden said.

With Griffin on the ground, Cousins searched for his helmet and warmed his right shoulder. He worked to manage his heartbeat.

“Your heart starts beating faster than it was 10 seconds before,” Cousins said. “That’s part of playing quarterback. You have to be able to channel that energy.”

Cousins had a solid day in Griffin’s stead. He finished 22-for-33 for 250 yards and a touchdown against what has been a hapless Jaguars defense in the first two games of the 2014 season. That helped the Redskins cruise to a 41-10 win, their first of the year.

What’s clear for the near-term is the team will have to move forward with Cousins as its starting quarterback and Colt McCoy as the backup. Drafted in the fourth round in 2012, the same year Griffin was picked No. 2 overall, Cousins took over for three games at the end of last season. He completed 52.3 percent of his passes, threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions. Cousins was effective enough that he was attached to trade rumors prior to the season.

“We feel good about our two quarterbacks and that’s why we wanted to keep Kirk here,” Gruden said. “Things happen in pro football. Starters get hurt and backups have to come in. This is an extreme circumstance, but Kirk is more than ready to take over.”

Griffin would not go into the particulars of how his dislocated ankle was put back into its proper place. His press conference over, he hopped down the back steps from the stage and used his crutches to exit the room. He took a right, past waiting defensive end Ryan Kerrigan who looked down at Griffin’s airborne ankle and shook his head.

Back in the lockerroom, Griffin went through as teammates answered questions about their first win since Nov. 3, 2013. The sound of his crutches hitting the floor were interjected between the positive cliches his teammates spouted.

Even the long-awaited win had come with a loss.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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