Six Minnesota Vikings blitzed. Six Washington Redskins blocked. Robert Griffin III read the moment perfectly, a rookie seeing the play like a seasoned veteran. There would be no one to stop him if he took off.
It's long been known that a running quarterback changes the dynamic of a game. When that quarterback can travel the final 60 yards of a 76-yard touchdown run in about 6 seconds — while wearing pads, carrying the ball and looking back at chasing defenders, as Griffin did on Sunday — then it truly is a whole new ballgame.
"It's been 10-on-11, offensive guys vs. defensive guys," Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. "If you put a guy in that position where he can run, it's 11-on-11."
Defenses will watch the video of the Redskins' 38-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings and wonder what they can do to stop the Heisman Trophy winner and former Big 12 hurdle champion who already knows how to survey an NFL defense and figure out the next move.
"I saw the blitz," said Griffin, describing the third-and-6 that produced the 76-yard run. "And I was thinking I'm either going to throw hot, or if they miss this blitz and don't hit it the right way, I'm going to run for the first. I saw that they missed it, took off running."
He had help. None of it would have been possible had running back Evan Royster not picked up blitzing linebacker Jasper Brinkley. The five offensive linemen held their ground against the other five rushing Vikings, leaving a lane for Griffin to run forward and then toward the left sideline.
His speed was such that safety Jamarca Sanford took a bad angle and ended up in a hapless game of chase. Safety Harrison Smith dived at Griffin's heels, forcing a momentary high-step from the rookie. Receiver Josh Morgan added a key downfield block.
The touchdown put the game away in the fourth quarter and dismissed any thoughts that Griffin would be affected by a concussion suffered a week earlier. He ranked 14th in the NFL in rushing as of Monday with 379 yards, far and away ahead of any other quarterback. His threat as a runner also opens up the passing game — he's the only starting QB completing more than 70 percent of his passes and has thrown only two interceptions through six games.
"Anytime you have a quarterback that has a threat of making a play with his legs, a lot of times you have defenses spying the quarterback," coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. "And they want to play man coverage, but they don't want to rush everybody because they've got to account for the quarterback, just like we saw yesterday. Robert breaks the line of scrimmage, all of a sudden you've got six guys rushing, and he's one-on-one."
Behind Griffin, the Redskins are 3-3 — right there with about one-third of the NFL — and next week's game against the New York Giants is their first against an NFC East opponent. Washington's recent history of futility is irrelevant when he's under center — until or until he gets hurt again. After all, backup Kirk Cousins is more like one of those 10 vs. 11 quarterbacks.
"One of the great things about youth is that you don't know," veteran linebacker London Fletcher said. "He doesn't realize how hard it is to win in this league. He's just been phenomenal in what he's done. Nothing's been too big for him. Really, he's just going out there really having fun. I wish I could have as much fun as he does playing the game because he's really just going out there carefree, just making plays like he's just out of high school and it's how college might be. It's great to watch."
Notes: Shanahan said WR Pierre Garcon is going to need more rest while recovering from a right foot injury. Garcon was inactive Sunday and has missed three of six games. "You could see when he's pushing off, he goes downfield, he's not anywhere close to full speed," Shanahan said. The coach said the injury is underneath Garcon's second toe. ... CB DeAngelo Hall says it's "asinine" to think that he slapped Vikings RB Adrian Peterson after the two jawed at each other after one play. "He slapped me in the face after making a good tackle on me," Peterson said after the game. Hall's response: "I have no idea what he's talking about." Hall added that might have pushed Peterson after the play but didn't slap him.
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