Despite pounding, QB nearly completes comeback
The legend was building with each yard gained. Robert Griffin III would lead his team from his own 2-yard line with no timeouts and less than two minutes remaining. That was the narrative being written as he stood on the Cincinnati 19-yard line with 27 seconds remaining, down by a touchdown.
But an ill-advised sack followed by a false start followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty altered the story. Rather than lead a stirring comeback, Griffin ended up with a consolation prize, a guy who delivered a gutsy effort in yet another loss. He took more pounding in Sunday's 38-31 loss to Cincinnati in his home debut but still managed 221 yards passing and 85 rushing.
"He made some big plays at the end that a lot of people can't make," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "To see his competitiveness and getting knocked down and getting back up, that's what you want to see. That's what the great ones do."
That's what Griffin had to do much of the game. It wasn't just because of breakdowns in protection or from holding the ball too long. Rather, it was from the running game. The Bengals usually had their defensive ends ignore the ball carrier and head right to Griffin. So even if he pitched the ball on the option or handed it off, he often was getting drilled. The Redskins adjusted by lining Brandon Banks up behind Griffin in their pistol formation. Banks would serve as a decoy sometimes, but he also ran three times for 29 yards.
"They were trying to run at me, get quarterback hits on me," Griffin said. "A lot of teams think if you hit the quarterback enough eventually he'll stop coming after you. I just want to let everyone know that's never going to happen."
Clearly it didn't happen Sunday. Griffin led the Redskins back from a two-touchdown deficit to tie it at 24-24, throwing a 3-yard pass to Santana Moss for one score. The Bengals went up by 14 in the fourth quarter, but Griffin led a 90-yard drive, capped by his 2-yard run. Then he nearly led a 98-yard drive to score, only to fall short.
"All you can do is get up from it," Griffin said.
He was talking about the hits. He could have been talking about the loss.