One rookie quarterback is left standing in the NFL playoffs. It is not the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, who could barely stand at all by the time the Seattle Seahawks completed their impressive comeback for a 24-14 victory Sunday at FedEx Field.
Fellow rookie QB Russell Wilson stood up to the conditions and led his team masterfully, all the way to Atlanta for the divisional game against the Falcons on Sunday.
All the pre-game ballyhoo about the head-to-head matchup of the outstanding pair of first-year leaders was diminished somewhat by Griffin’s re-injury of his sprained right knee that kept him out of a game last month.
Before landing awkwardly on it during a rollout in the first quarter, Griffin was efficient, leading Washington to a 14-0 lead that stunned the Seahawks — and most everyone else watching. However, after his second touchdown pass, Griffin was barely mobile and unable to consistently plant solidly to deliver the ball — and the Redskins’ offense stalled the remaining three quarters.
On the other side, Wilson was just revving up. The grandson of former Norfolk State University president Harrison B. Wilson, the younger Wilson ran his team with aplomb, completing 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and picking up another 67 yards rushing the ball. He was ably assisted by running back Marshawn Lynch, who gained 132 yards and a key touchdown.
Leading the way blocking on Lynch’s score was Wilson. “He always says he has my back,” Wilson said, “so I had to have his.”
Griffin’s presence on the field will lead to debate for days, maybe even months in D.C. He was clearly hobbled, but made a case with coach Mike Shanahan to remain in the game.
“I talked to Robert and he said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt,’ ” Shanahan said after the game. “He said, ‘I can guarantee I’m hurt right now, but give me the chance to win this football game because I guarantee I’m not injured.’
“That was enough for me.”
Griffin finally had to be pulled late in the game when he twisted the knee, trying to recover an errant snap from center.
“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there,” Griffin said. “But every time you get on the field, you’re putting yourself on the line.”
An MRI is set to determine the condition of his knee.
“I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way,” Griffin said. “I’m the best option.”
Said Seattle coach Pete Carroll: “It was hard to watch RG III tonight. It was hard on him. He was freaking gallant.”
Same could be said about Russell Wilson.