In the biggest game of the season for the Washington Redskins Sunday, the worst thing of all happened. Robert Griffin III re-aggravated his right knee, which he injured against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 9, 2012.
It was a very intriguing game as the Redskins came out on fire, with their offense looking as dominant as any team in the NFL. On their first two possessions they drove down the field, on an elite Seattle Seahawks defense, and capped them off with touchdowns. The Seahawks came into the game giving up only 15.3 points per contest, which leads the league. However, on the second scoring drive, Griffin rolled out on a bootleg and fell awkwardly. He got up limping back to the huddle, but managed to throw a touchdown pass on the very next play.
It was a 14-0 Redskins lead at this point, with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter. Griffin was noticeably hurt, but he’s looked this way for the past three weeks. Mike Shanahan stated that he asked Griffin if he could continue to play, and Griffin responded, ”Give me the chance to win this football game, because I guarantee I’m not injured.” So, Shanahan decided to let him play it out. There are many people who disagree with this move, but I don’t.
If your team’s star quarterback feels as if he can continue to play, in a playoff game at that, then he should. If this were a regular season game, without playoff implications on the line, then you definitely pull him in that situation. However, this was the Redskins’ first playoff game since 2007. Fans would have had a heart attack if Griffin, who led them to this point, didn’t play for the next three quarters.
The Seahawks eventually came back to win 24-14, as the Redskins offense struggled for the remainder of the game. It was obvious Griffin wasn’t himself, but he hasn’t been since week 14. He managed to play in the Redskins two final regular season games, which were basically playoff games themselves. He limped his way around towards victory in both. The Seahawks defense is bigger, faster, and stronger than any other defense the Redskins have faced this season, but if you’re Shanahan you have to stick with your quarterback.
I do understand why the media and fans would get on him for not taking Griffin out, solely due to the fact that the Redskins lost the game. The Redskins were leading 14-13 at the half, and for the entire third quarter. It took until the fourth quarter, after a Marshawn Lynch touchdown, for the Seahawks to finally take the lead. At this point there was 7:08 left to play. So should Shanahan have pulled Griffin with just a little over seven minutes to go, and with their season on the line?
I’ve heard many analysts bring up an interesting point. In the 2010 NFC championship game Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, in a tight match up, went out with an injury and didn’t return. He was bashed all off-season for being ‘soft’ for not going back into the game with a Super Bowl trip on the line. Griffin didn’t give people a chance to do that, he refused to leave the field and you have to respect a young rookie for that.
Shanahan stated that he went with his, “gut feeling,” and I don’t blame him. It was the heat of the moment, with the entire team wanting to leave the field with a win, and I don’t think any member of the Redskins questioned Shanahan’s decision. Fans will, the media/analysts will, but there is no way you pull your captain/quarterback with your season on the line. Shanahan made the right move.
Redskins columnist/Josiah Turner