Robert Griffin III brought his Heisman Trophy swagger to New Orleans and made his NFL debut appears like a Big Easy.
Showing a veteran’s composure by scrambling just when necessary, the dynamic Redskins rookie QB troubled New Orleans’ defense with 320 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, and Redskins held on for 40-32 triumph over the Saints on Sunday.
”You can win a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your 1st game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it’s at the top,” Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. ”After the game, (Brees) told me that he was proud of me. That’s large for him to assert after he just lost the game.”
New Orleans was hoping to open the season with a defiant show of force in the wake of the bounty scandal that overshadowed its offseason. The New Orleans also got a boost Friday when a 3-member appeals panel reinstated defensive end Will Smith and LB Jon Vilma, who’d been suspended for their roles in the Saints’ alleged pay-for-pain bounty program.
Smith started, while Vilma, assumed not fit to play after offseason knee surgery, received a rousing ovation when he walked onto the field to steer the Saints’ traditional pregame ”Who-dat” chant.
Instead of riding that emotional high, the New Orleans Saints spent much of the game attempting to keep up with a Redskins offense powered by youth. Opening with a few short, quick throws, Griffin completed his first 8 passes. His 7th pass, released just before he was leveled on by blitzing safety Malcolm Jenkins, hit Pierre Garcon in stride over the middle for an 88-yard touchdown, tying the 2nd-longest scoring pass by a QB making his NFL debut.
”It’s great for any QB to get 2 straightforward passes at the beginning of a game so that you can get into a rhythm,” Griffin declared. ”They were giving us those looks and I took advantage of them.”
Griffin finished 19 of 26 with no interceptions and a passer rating of 139.9. He also scrambled for 42 yards.
”Robert did an unbelievable job to play the way in which he did in his 1st game in the NFL,” asserted Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, marveling at ”the poise that he played with and some of the throws that he made.”
Rookie Alfred Morris surged for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Aldrick Robinson, a 2nd-year pro making his NFL regular-season debut, had a 5-yard touchdown catch among 4 receptions for 52 yards.
Brees quickly dismissed the idea disruptions from the bounty probe, which led to a season-long suspension for coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton, was to blame for New Orleans shaky start.
”Not in the slightest, it’s the NFL. You better bring it each week,” Brees said. ”We knew the type of team they were. We knew the sort of defense they were. They just came in and played better than we probably did, made fewer mistakes than we did, made more plays than we did.” Las Vegas odds