Let's be real, he's in the conversation.
Robert Griffin III took the L from his initial close encounter with the Giants like a G, learning the harsh lesson that an NFL game is never bagged with late-game gunslingers like Eli Manning on the prowl. Manning’s 77-yard scoring laser to Victor Cruz came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin tossed what was the potential game-winning 30-yard TD strike to Santana Moss.
The Giants victory prevented the Redskins, 3-4 at the time, from moving into a first-place tie in the NFC East. It also ruined a potential signature victory for RG3 and posed questions about the Redskins as legitimate playoff contenders.
The verdict was still out on whether they were the real deal, or a brief blip on the NFL regular season radar. That pass to Cruz was a dagger in RG3’s heart. The same heart, was tested again on Monday night, and came up a winner.
Rewind to the devastating loss at Giants Stadium on Oct. 21. The Redskins stumbled into complete ass-out mode, dropping two more after that, to fall to 3-6. Washington coach Mike Shanahan buried the Skins in the press, conceding the playoffs and began looking towards the future.
Instead of sulking, RG3 brushed his shoulder’s off and inconceivably stepped his game up another notch, leading Washington to consecutive victories, while setting rookie records with 8 TD passes and the highest passer rating (146.3) over a two-game span. Washington clawed its way back to a do-or-die showdown with the NFC East-leading Giants.
RG3 had a lot at stake entering the game. A Redskins loss would leave them 3 games behind the Giants with 4 games left and drop them to third-place behind Dallas, with the Ravens lurking in the cut next week. RG3’s Rookie of the Year candidacy was losing steam too, as QBs Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were winning games and wrecking havoc on the league.
On Sunday, Luck and Wilson upped the ante, representing their respective teams to the fullest, in dramatic comeback victories. Luck, has turned Indianapolis – a two-win team last season – into a second-place 8-4 squad. He willed the Colts back from a 12-point deficit and beat Detroit with a game–winning 4 th-down TD pass. Wilson executed his own magic , throwing a dramatic TD in overtime against the NFC North-leading Bears to keep Seattle (7-5) on San Francisco’s heels in the NFC West.
These cats are not just managing games. They’re getting it in big boy style, and putting pressure on the DC savior to get it poppin’ every time he gets on the gridiron.
Skills-wise, RG3 is the man. His 72 rushing yards broke Cam Newton’s NFL record for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback. The play of the game, however, wasn’t one he made with his legs or his arm, but with his guts, late in the 4th-quarter.
RG3 stayed in bounds on a run, to keep the clock humming and took a vicious elbow to the back from Giants linebacker Michael Boley with 3:51 left in the game. It drew flashbacks of a similar sideline hit he took against the Falcons in early October, which left him concussed. RG3’s wreckless running style is a hot topic for fans and media. Shanahan has run him less, but if he does break, the staff has implored him to dip out of bounds. He only rushed five times on Monday night, but he made those scampers count, and Boley cleared his clock. It’s just part of the game to RG3, who was clear about his intentions. He smelled blood and he was going to end it. “I had to stay inbounds and take one for the team on that one," said RG3, in a post game interview on Monday Night Football.
The hit looked brutal, but it didn’t faze him. RG3 jumped back up like a boxer drunk off adrenaline. He kept fighting, and delivered the knockout blow with 2:19 left, hitting Pierre Garcon over the middle, inside Giants territory to basically ice the game. RG3 wasn’t going to let Manning get the best of him twice. If the Giants ended the Skins’ playoff dreams, the prideful rook would have to admit to being owned by his hated rivals for at least this season. Entering the game, no team had beaten RG3 twice yet in his young NFL career.
His heroics kept it that way and saved the Redskins bacon. RG3, along with rookie power back Alfred Morris (129 rushing yards), made sure Manning – the Mariah Carey of comeback QBs –helplessly stood and got a good look at two dudes destined to give his Giants fits for years to come. They ran out the clock and ran off the field with reputation, legend and postseason hopes in-tact.
Small challenges aren’t RG3’s thing. He stays on his Wiz Khalifa. When the smoke cleared at FedEx Field, RG3 had regained control of the ROY award, saved his team’s season and added more records to his collection. It was obvious early on that the game would be close, but the football Gods seemed to favor RG3 and a Redskins’ win. RG3’s first-quarter fumble , which miraculously turned into a Josh Morgan TD, set the tone for the night. The Giants were mere victims of fate. RG3 dazzled the fans with sharp passes, elusive runs and sagacious decision-making. He caused conflict for the Giants defense with his execution of the read option and quick-striking attack.
Down 13-10 early in the 4th-quarter, RG3 rolled right and hit receiver Pierre Garcon, to touch off a 12- play, 86- yard scoring drive. The Giants held the momentum up to that point, but Washington’s go-ahead score sparked a confidence they wouldn’t relinquish.
An inspired defense responded with a three and out, sacking Eli into the dirt on third down, forcing a punt. The unit stayed inspired all the way to the bank. With this RG3 cat, you can’t even go to the bathroom to take a leak. He not only topped the miraculous performances of his competing rookie QBs, he dragged the Giants back within striking range. Supremacy is up for grabs in the NFC East and RG3 drew his line in the sand on Monday night. It’s looking like Washington found the recipe and is cooking for real.