Published November 19, 2012
LANDOVER, Md. – Robert Griffin III's perfect game was broken up by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who batted away a pass intended for Joshua Morgan late in the first half.
Otherwise, nothing the Washington Redskins rookie threw hit the ground. Fifteen attempts. Fourteen completions. Four touchdowns. Two hundred yards on the nose. Yet another game without an interception.
"Except for that one incompletion, I thought he was OK," coach Mike Shanahan deadpanned.
Griffin threw for a touchdown in every quarter — 6 yards to Darrel Young, 49 to Aldrick Robinson, 61 to Santana Moss and 17 to Logan Paulsen — and ran 12 times for 84 yards in Sunday's 31-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I'm tired of talking about Robert," Moss said with a laugh. "Nothing's going to change; Robert's going to go out there and be special. That's the gift that he has, he's a special guy. He brings that kind of 'specialness.' I don't know if that's a word, but he brings it to our offense."
Moss might be running out of ways to extol Griffin's virtues, but he's certainly reaping the benefits. He has six touchdown receptions this season despite playing in a reduced role; no other Redskins receiver has more than two. He made Griffin look good by leaping between two defenders to make a catch and fighting his way into the end zone for his score in the third quarter, a throw that prompted an "oh, no — oh, yes" reaction from Shanahan.
"There's a difference between playing fearless and being stupid," Griffin said. "You just have to be able to tiptoe that line. Now if it had been an interception, the pass would have looked stupid. But because it was a touchdown, it was fearless."
The game for last place in the NFC East left a thick line between the Redskins and Eagles. The win allows Washington (4-6) to feel like a playoff contender for at least a few more days, while Philadelphia (3-7) is doomed to spending six more weeks enduring endless questions about the future of the franchise.
"I don't know how it can get much worse," Eagles tight end Brent Celek said.
The Eagles have lost six straight, accelerating the countdown toward the possible end of Andy Reid's 14-year tenure as coach.
"I don't sense a lack of focus," said Reid, who declined to directly answer a question about his job security. "That's not what I sense. I see them playing hard. I see them focusing in at practice. At times, maybe we're trying too hard."
The Redskins, meanwhile, have a short week before heading to Texas for a Thanksgiving visit to the Dallas Cowboys. Washington had lost three in a row entering Sunday's game, but that's not enough to derail hopes of contending in a down year for the division.
"When things don't go your way, you just kind of get lost," right guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "You get that sinking feeling again. And to be able to get out of that and get a win, it's going to do huge things for this next game and here on out — because there's a feeling of 'Hey, we're back in this.'"
Lichtensteiger then paused and asked: "Did Dallas lose?"
The Cowboys, in fact, won. They pulled out an overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns to improve to 5-5. Still, it says something that the Redskins are able to do some meaningful scoreboard watching.
"It was a game we had to have," said Shanahan, who reversed himself a couple of weeks ago after initially indicating that the playoffs were out of reach.
The Redskins also finally found a formula for beating a rookie quarterback: force turnovers and have your own rookie play better. The defense got three takeaways and four sacks while facing Nick Foles, the third-round pick from Arizona who was making his first NFL start because Michael Vick is sidelined with a concussion.
Foles' first two drives ended with interceptions, putting the Redskins on their way to ending a remarkable eight-game losing streak against rookie quarterbacks that began in 2006. Foles completed 21 for 46 for 204 yards.
"That's the kind of football we've been wanting to play all year," said Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. "And especially with Philly having a young quarterback, we wanted to really get after him."
NOTES: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 45 yards before being carted off in the final two minutes with a concussion. ... The Eagles have their longest in-season losing streak since dropping seven in a row at the end of 1994. ... Griffin has only three interceptions in 277 attempts this season. Foles already has three in just 78 attempts. ... Washington last beat a rookie quarterback on Dec. 24, 2005, a 24-9 win over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the St. Louis Rams. ... Washington S Brandon Meriweather, who had been sidelined with a left knee injury, had an interception but also hurt his right knee in the third quarter. He's expected to play against Dallas. ... Washington WR Pierre Garcon returned from a foot injury and caught three passes for 5 yards.
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