Rick Snider: Redskins' RG3 starting to use his head

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Robert Griffin III is feeling good again, and so are the Washington Redskins.

Griffin spent a week dispelling speculation about his readiness after suffering a concussion vs. Atlanta on Oct. 7. There was just one moment of confusion. He passed every test right up to pregame warmups.

And then Griffin looked his usual unstoppable self, leading the Redskins to a 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at FedEx Field.

Griffin played a smarter game after he endured multiple hard hits over the first five weeks. The tough guy mantra gave way to the wisdom of not trying to win every snap.

Griffin learned to step out of bounds a yard earlier to avoid contact. He turned his back to defenders when he converted a short third-down run. He kept his head up on one carry and slid on another. Indeed, the only time Griffin risked a head-on hit was as he stretched across the goal line on a 7-yard touchdown run. There seemed no hesitancy in his play.

"You have to go play," coach Mike Shanahan told reporters. "Common sense prevails. ... I thought I saw that today."

It was the perfect way to keep Griffin sound and productive. He ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. Coupled with his 17-for-22 passing for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 97.2 rating, Griffin kept Minnesota guessing as Washington scored 24 points over four possessions to take control of the game.

The crisis is over. Griffin continues his bid to be named NFL rookie of the year, and the Redskins (3-3) still can hope for their first winning season since Joe Gibbs' 2007 exit. Washington trails the New York Giants by one game in the NFC East entering their matchup Sunday.

After earlier victories over New Orleans (1-4) and Tampa Bay (3-3), Washington beat surprising Minnesota (4-2), which possessed enough offensive stars that it seemed likely the game would be a shootout. A defensive letdown spoiled an early good effort, but the offense knows it needs to score 30 points most weeks to win.

Thirty points -- it's the new benchmark. The Redskins have hit the mark three times this season. Washington never did it once last season, but when the defense let Minnesota close to 31-26, Griffin changed a passing play into a run. He went 76 yards untouched and into the end zone stands to clinch the victory. He spent a few extra moments sitting in the dream seats, catching his breath and enjoying the moment.

Indeed, the crowd was savoring not only its first home victory in 13?months but its injured quarterback proving he's sound once more -- other than some gauze to protect his stitches from his chin strap. Griffin continues to be worthy of every high expectation.

And it's probably just the start.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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