What a franchise expects from its starting quarterback is to have the confidence to rally the club back from obscurity to win games late. On Sunday, Robert Griffin III fully displayed the franchise-quarterback poise the Washington Redskins’ anticipated, when they selected the former Heisman Trophy winner as the second overall pick in this year’s draft, to post his first fourth-quarter comeback victory on his young career. In his fourth NFL start, the 22-year-old rookie was thrown into a hostile environment and delivered in a big way, rallying the Washington Redskins to a 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
As fascinating as it has been to watch Robert Griffin III develop in his first four games as the Washington Redskins’ quarterback, Sunday’s game showed once again that they’re only scratching the surface of what his talents will enable them to do as an offense. With his headset malfunctioning, Griffin could not communicate electronically with the coaching staff on the final, game-winning drive. Most rookies might have panic and ultimately faltered in that situation. Not RGIII. Down by a point, down to his last timeout, after a blown 18-point lead, the rookie kept his head in the game, took control of the huddle, and made sound-decisions down the stretch, while remaining accurate in the pocket, to turn in the most satisfying victory.
“A lot of poise there in the fourth quarter,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan told The Washington Post. “That’s what you’ve got to have in your quarterback.”
The rookie QB continues to impress as he led the Redskins to snap a two-game skid. For the game, he completed 26-of-35 passes for 323 yard, and no interceptions, for a 102.4 passer rating. He rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown in seven carries. And he got the ball back on his own 20-yard line, down by a point with 1:42 left in the game and marched Washington 56 yards into field-goal range, allowing place kicker Billy Cundiff –who missed his first three field goal attempts– to redeem his play and seal the Redskins victory, connecting on a 41-yarder with three seconds remaining.
Facing a defense that had held the Redskins’ league-leading offense scoreless in the second half until that point, RGIII didn’t resemble a first-year pro, as he led the once-bottom dwelling ‘Skins back against the Bucs. He completed all four of his passes (not counting a spike to stop the clock) for 46 yards and scrambled for another critical 15-yard gain. Prior to Week 4, Griffin boasted a passer rating of 103.5 and threw four touchdowns compared to just one interception. After torching Tampa Bay’s secondary, he’s now averaging 267.5 passing yards per game with a completion rating of 69 percent. In addition to his aerial assault, the rookie has rushed for 252 yards and four more touchdowns– a stat line that should catapult him into the top 10 NFL quarterback conversation.
For Griffin, the victory was a validation of sorts. He had answered every other question about his abilities in the season’s first three games: Was he tough enough? Was he accurate enough? Could he make quick decisions with the ball? Now, he has answered the ultimate question for an NFL QB: Was he a winner? He answered, decisively and definitively, in the affirmative. One game won’t end the debate about who’s better under center, RGIII or the Indianapolis Colts’ number one overall pick Andrew Luck, but it’s clear the Redskins are in the midst of a revival with their emerging young star.