Fans cringe as Skins, RG3 go down hard

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Photo - Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III sits on the bench after being injured during an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 24-14. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III sits on the bench after being injured during an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 24-14. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Donning a Santana Moss jersey and surrounded by friends inside Capitol City Brewing Co., Mary Beth Fleury had just one word to describe her feelings as the final seconds ticked off in the Washington Redskins' playoff loss Sunday.

"Devastating," said Fleury, of Arlington. "I wish I could call in sick tomorrow."

Redskins fans, at bars throughout D.C. hoping to watch the team's first playoff win since 2005, were jubilant early. At Regional Food and Drink in Chinatown, where every TV was showing on the game, a raucous crowd cheered wildly as the Redskins took a 14-0 lead on a pass from quarterback Robert Griffin III, playing despite an injured right knee.

But the joy would not last.

Griffin reinjured his knee, and though he continued to play, he was largely ineffective. Fans watched helplessly as the Seattle Seahawks chipped away at Washington's lead and eventually pulled ahead. Then, with the Seahawks up 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Griffin went down hard after scrambling to pick up a bad snap. When Fox showed a replay of the injury in slow motion, there was a collective moan inside the Capitol City brewery as Griffin's already bad knee was seen to be unnaturally contorted. Bar-stool quarterbacks wondered whether Griffin should have been in the game at all.

For a fan base that has so emphatically embraced Griffin and the Redskins, watching the season go down as their superstar quarterback fell again was painful -- especially in a city reeling from a 20-year championship drought and recent early postseason exits by baseball's Washington Nationals and hockey's Washington Capitals.

"It's typical D.C. sports," said Will Misko, of Alexandria, at Capitol City after the loss. "A heartbreak."

But many still found reason to celebrate the successful season. After a 3-6 start, fans rallied around the team as it rode a seven-game winning streak to a NFC East division title and its first playoff appearance since 2008.

"At the beginning of the season, nobody had us doing anything," said Lamont Smallwood, who bravely wore a Sean Taylor jersey to Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, a bar where Seahawks fans are known to gather. "It's been wonderful."

There's optimism that the young team is primed for success for years to come. But there aere plenty of cautious minds, too, who watched Griffin take hits all season and now worry about his health after this latest injury.

"It all comes down to if RGIII can stay healthy," said Peter Schatz at RFD. "If he does, they're going to be relevant for a decade."

Griffin will have the offseason to heal. In the meantime, at least the Capitals' season will start soon with the lockout ending, right?

"Absolutely," Schatz said. "That and Nats baseball in a few months."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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