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Rick Snider: There's no comparison

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's spectacular debut is best measured by those of his four fellow rookie passers.

Griffin finished the first half of the 40-32 victory over New Orleans on Sunday with a perfect passer rating before slipping slightly to 139.9. He finished with 320 yards passing and two touchdowns. Not many veterans match those numbers, much less rookies.

Andrew Luck always will be Griffin's benchmark after he taken first overall by Indianapolis in April. Luck threw for 309 yards and one touchdown against Super Bowl contender Chicago but also was intercepted three times and finished with a 52.9 rating in the loss.

Seattle's Russell Wilson threw three incomplete passes at the goal line in the final moments of a loss to Arizona. He wound up with a 62.5 rating, one touchdown, one interception and a measly 4.5 yards a pass.

Miami's Ryan Tannehill, once considered Washington's fallback option before it traded for Griffin's draft rights, also threw three picks in losing to Houston. He was 20-for-36, but the 39.0 rating was horrible.

Then again, that was super compared with Cleveland's Brandon Weedon, who posted four interceptions and a 5.1 rating after completing 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards. And he almost won because it wasn't just rookies who struggled Sunday. Philadelphia's Michael Vick also threw four picks before his late touchdown pass boosted the Eagles to a 17-16 win.

Teams are supposed to struggle when they open with rookie quarterbacks, and Griffin's four contemporaries went a combined 0-4 with 11 interceptions.

Translation: Griffin leaps the Redskins past those four teams.

Griffin's teammates told him in the postgame locker room that he's no longer a rookie. It certainly looked that way Sunday to hungry Redskins fans.

Washingtonians will munch on eight free pizza toppings Monday. Seriously, Redskins fans will gain weight during Griffin's tenure. His next commercial should be for a local gym.

Everyone knew Griffin could run, but that ability in itself wasn't much of a factor; he had 42 yards on 10 carries. The fear that he could run -- the Saints linebackers seemed frozen, unsure what Griffin was going to do -- was the difference when Washington scored on its first four possessions for a 20-7 lead.

The question was how quickly Griffin would adjust to the NFL's speed. He completed all six passes on the opening scoring drive, converting the first third down by hitting Brandon Banks for 10 yards.

New Orleans' persistent comebacks didn't rattle Griffin, either. When the Saints closed to 40-32 with 2:25 remaining, thoughts of the Redskins folding like in past seasons quickly ended when Griffin completed a 22-yard pass. Not many rookies seal games like that.

Griffin needs to improve on some little things, like not tripping over rookie running back Alfred Morris' feet on a handoff. He should take a sure first down on the run over throwing over the top for a longer gain.

But for the first time since the team's 1937 arrival in Washington with rookie Sammy Baugh, the Redskins have a first-year quarterback who's a difference maker. The other four teams are still wondering whether the same is true.

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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