ORCHARD PARK, NY
In summary: Most of the focus Thursday night in Buffalo was on Robert Griffin III, and rightfully so. But there were a handful of other storylines that unfolded on the artificial turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
For your fill of RGIII, check out Rich Tandler’s wall-to-wall coverage of the rookie quarterback’s professional debut. When you’re done with that, come back here for everything else you need to know about the game.
MVP: Pierre Garçon led all pass catchers with three receptions for 58 yards (19.3 yards per) and the game’s only touchdown. The first-year Redskin and No. 1 wide receiver also looked to be inbound on the sideline catch he made on the first drive. If he had been given credit for it, Garcon would have hauled in all four passes thrown his way.
Offensive play of the game: Admittedly, there weren’t many offensive highlights. But the nod has to go to Garçon’s 20-yard touchdown reception. On a bubble screen to the left, Garçon burst through the line, made a cut and got a crucial block downfield from Trent Williams, who occupied two defensive backs as Garçon flipped into the end zone.
“We definitely needed that,” Garçon said. “The first two drives were a little bit tough but we’re happy we ended off that third touchdown.”
Injury update: Speaking of Williams, the Redskins tackle said his left foot/ankle was stepped on during the scoring play. He said X-rays were negative, but he had a pronounced limp as he walked from the locker room to the team bus.
“I just got stepped on,” Williams said. “I’m fine.”
Asked if he’ll practice on Saturday, he added: “We’ll see. It depends on how I feel in the morning. It’s nothing serious.”
Williams was injured making that critical block downfield. Teammate Maurice Hurt was shoved into him from behind.
Defensive play of the game: Late in the second quarter and the Redskins leading 7-3, rookie cornerback Richard Crawford made an over-the-shoulder interception of a Tyler Thigpen pass along the sideline. Crawford, a seventh round draft pick out of SMU who has shined through the first two weeks of training camp, returned the ball 16 yards.
“I used to play receiver,” Crawford said, “so I have to catch the interceptions.”
Breakthrough performance: Crawford gets a hat tip here, too. In addition to the interception, he made three punt returns for a total of 42 yards, including a long of 17.
“It’s good just to get the nerves out, just to realize that you can play everybody else,” Crawford said. “Just gaining confidence, and that’s pretty much what I did tonight.”
What they said: Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams on Griffin: “It was pretty obvious they protected him. They did not want him to get hit. …It’s kind of hard to judge him because I do not thing we saw everything they are going to do with him this year.”
What they said, Part II: Royster on Griffin’s on-field leadership: “He did well. I was surprised [when] he actually audibled a play at the right time. I was sitting back there like, ‘You have to change this play.’ I was surprised that he caught onto it and it actually ended up being a successful play.”
What they said, Part III: Asked about his flip into the end zone, Garçon cracked that he was inspired by the gymnastics competition at the Olympics.
“I need to work on my landing, though,” he joked. “I didn’t know I was going to do it until I was in the air. Tried to do my little Gabby Douglas.”
Armageddon avoided: The injuries along the offensive line – the unit was minus starters Kory Lichtensteiger, Jammal Brown and Chris Chester – seemed to hold the potential for disaster for the Redskins and their rookie quarterback.
But that’s not how it unfolded. Backups Hurt, Adam Gettis and Tyler Polumbus proved more than adequate against a first team Bills’ defense. Polumbus was especially impressive against standout defensive end Mario Williams.
Accepting blame: Although the official box score CHARGES Griffin with a fumble lost, running back Evan Royster said he should have held onto the ball, despite the fact that the handoff was low.
“It’s tough to say, but I’ll take the full blame,” said Royster, who bounced back and rushed for 12, five and two yards on consecutive plays to set up Garçon’s touchdown.
Full stat line: Linebacker Bryan Kehl had six combined tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defended.
The Redskins return to the field Saturday.