Quarterback talking, acting like a veteran leader
ASHBURN -- The 22-year-old kid delivered a message to teammates that, well, didn't sound like something coming from such a young player. Except that Robert Griffin III hasn't acted his age all season. Now with one regular-season game left -- and a division title at stake -- Griffin sounds like someone who has lived through perhaps a dozen such games.
So he told his teammates not to change their approach. Don't get sucked up into the hype. Relax. In other words, everything a captain should say.
"Don't play this up so big that you can't seize it," Griffin said he told them. "You have to make sure you approach it the same way as you have the last six weeks. Know it's for all the marbles but don't play scared."
And that quote helps explain why Griffin has delivered in key games throughout the season, not to mention in his college career. During the six-game winning streak, Griffin has posted five games with a passer rating of at least 101.8 (he missed one of the games with the knee sprain). He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.
"If you play big in the big stages, people tend to write good things about you, so we all want to play well on the big stage or in a prime-time game or in a game like this that comes down to the division," Griffin said.
Critics have dinged Dallas quarterback Tony Romo for his 1-3 career playoff record. Giants quarterback Eli Manning raised his status with two Super Bowl victories, which overshadow some mediocre seasons.
"To be compared to the greats you have to win some big games," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "I love the way Robert has handled things since he's been here. He doesn't handle himself like a rookie. He handles himself like a veteran in the way he prepares and works, the intangibles. Those are the things you look for in a quarterback, and he has all those things."
For Shanahan, it also comes down to Griffin's preparation. Ever since he joined the team he impressed teammates with the way he worked. It's why veteran players this summer anticipated this sort of season -- and impact -- from Griffin. He has thrown 20 touchdown passes and only five interceptions.
And that preparation helps during games such as Sunday's.
"The way he handles himself under pressure is you have to feel prepared," Shanahan said. "The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you are in that situation. That's what he's done."
The question for Griffin is how much his sprained right knee still limits him. He ran only two times in the 27-20 win over Philadelphia, and only one was a designed carry. Shanahan said he did not want to put extra stress on Griffin's lateral collateral ligament.
Griffin also said the brace protecting his knee hindered him a little bit. He will continue to wear a brace.
"The knee's fine," Griffin said. "Whatever I feel I can do on that day, I will. I'll be able to do more than I did against Philly."