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Griffin III: No Finger-Pointing In Locker Room

Posted Sep 10, 2013

The Philadelphia Eagles may have spoiled the return of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins, but players took accountability for the loss, starting with No. 10.

Although it may be a small sample size, NFL quarterbacks have a poor track record starting in Week 1 after not playing in the preseason.

In the last 15 years, only three NFL quarterbacks have started in Week 1 after taking zero snaps in the preseason: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in 2008, and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III last night.

And despite going into only his second NFL season, Griffin III statistically out-performed both Brady and Manning in their Week 1 returns.

Both Griffin III and Manning completed 30-for-49 pass attempts in losing efforts, with Griffin III outgaining Manning by 72 yards. He also threw one more touchdown than Manning in his return.

Manning bounced back from the Week 1 loss to win 12 of the next 15 games, leading his team to another AFC South title and a seventh-straight trip to the playoffs.

Clearly, good things can still happen after disappointing starts.

Griffin III proved as much last night, taking the first three quarters to get his bearing before becoming RG3 in the final 18:36.

Over the first 41:24, Griffin III completed just 10-of-21 passes for 92 yards, with two sacks and an interception.

Getting the ball back at the 3:36 mark of the third quarter, Griffin III and the offense turned it loose, as he finished 20-for-28 for 237 yards and two touchdowns.

His 126.9 quarterback passer rating in the fourth quarter ranked fourth among NFL quarterbacks in Week 1. It also pulled up his 22.2 passer rating through the first three quarters to a 77.7 for the game.

The victory in last night's performance is that Griffin III came out unscathed and further along his road to recovery.

Historically, others have not been so lucky.

While Brady got the start in Week 1, 2008, he completed just 7-for-11 for 76 yards before tearing his ACL and missing the duration of the 2008 campaign. It was his replacement, Matt Cassel, who led the Patriots to victory in Week 1.

But any attempt by the media to spin last night's loss was dismissed during Robert Griffin III's postgame press conference.

As far as the Redskins quarterback was concerned, to call a loss by any other name would be making excuses.

“I think that’s an excuse. I’m responsible for the way I play. I didn’t play very well in the first half so that’s just the way it is," he said. "I’m not going to sit here and say I was rusty.

"I have to be accountable, I’m going to be accountable for that."

Griffin III has always been his own harshest critic, but didn't wallow in last night's defeat, instead saying the team was looking forward to correcting Week 1 mistakes.

"You move on from it," he said. "[I] didn’t play well in the first half. We came back and played better in the second half. We just have to do it for 60 minutes."

Following a bizarre sequence of poor ball security and failed execution across the board, Griffin III chalked Monday Night's loss to a perfect storm of dysfunction.

"We had a serious case of the ‘can’t-get-rights,’ just penalties, hurting ourselves," he explained. "I don’t throw picks, [running back] Alfred [Morris] doesn’t fumble and [kicker] Kai [Forbath] doesn’t miss field goals and all three of those happened tonight."

One of the more uncharacteristic plays of the evening came in the first quarter when an errant pitch to running back Alfred Morris in the end zone led to a Eagles safety.

After the play, Robert patted Morris on the helmet coming off the field and insisted after the game that the result of the play was his fault.

“I’ll take the heat for that. I’m never going to point the finger at anybody. I pitched the ball, he didn’t catch the ball, and that’s my fault," he said. "He’ll tell you the same thing. He’ll tell you it’s his fault, and I’ll tell you it’s my fault, and you’ll decide whose fault it is from your perspective.

"We’ll get that right. We don’t fumble pitches, and he doesn’t fumble the ball and I don’t throw picks."

Griffin III trumpeted the sentiment echoed throughout the Redskins locker room that the offense let the defense down when they couldn't stay on the field.

At halftime, the Redskins defense had already been on the field for 20:20, running a total of 53 plays against Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense.

"We can’t put our defense in those kinds of situations, having them on the field the majority of the game," Griffin III said. "There’s no finger-pointing going on in that locker room. If you start pointing fingers at each other, that’s when you start having a team that’s separated, and we’re never going to be that way.

"We know we have to get better and it comes with a short week going against Green Bay, but we’ll figure it out."

Part of the pondering process already took place in the fourth quarter, as the Redskins rallied to score 20 unanswered points and control the ball for 18 minutes.

While it was too little too late for Week 1, Griffin III shared in his head coach's optimism that the team had turned the corner before leaving FedExField on Monday Night.

"We’ll get better, no doubt. I’m proud of the way the team fought back," he said. "We got it within six, and that’s all you can ask for.

"You don’t want your team to come out in the second half and just fold, so I’m proud of the way we fought and that’s what I told them in the locker room."

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