Expectations in Washington were sky high for Robert Griffin III from the moment the Redskins traded away a boatload of picks to get the right to draft him with the second overall pick in April’s draft.
What did Griffin do with those expectations in his first game with the team? He went out and exceeded them.
By a lot.
Griffin became the first NFL quarterback since 1950 to quarterback a team to 40 points in the season opener as the Redskins stunned the Saints in New Orleans by a score of 40-32.
The numbers tell part of the story. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, vtwo touchdowns and no interceptions. If you crunch those numbers in the QB rating calculator you get a 139.9.
A perfect rating is 158.3 and that is what Griffin had in the first half. No quarterback has ever posted a perfect rating in a half in his NFL debut.
And per the Elias Sports Bureau, no quarterback has ever passed for at least 300 yards with at least two touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut.
When you start reading stats with things like “first time in 62 years” and “first time ever” attached to them, you start to get the idea that this was a pretty special performance.
As noted, the numbers only tell part of the story. The moment was not nearly too big for him. Griffin was not at all rattled by the notorious noise at the Superdome, a place where the Saints went undefeated last year. He was poised and he made excellent decisions.
And he put the ball where it needed to be. After the Saints scored a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead, an penalty backed the Redskins up to their own 12. On first down, Griffin threw a dart to Pierre Garçon, who was streaking over the middle. The receiver caught the pass in stride and rolled 88 yards for a touchdown. Yes, most of the yardage was after the catch but if Griffin doesn’t throw a perfect pass, allowing Garçon to keep running at top speed, it’s a nice play but not a touchdown.
The score put the Redskins up 10-7 and they didn’t trail the rest of the way.
Griffin had a lot of help. The defense held the Saints to 32 yards on the ground, allowed the Saints to convert just two of 11 third downs and and let Drew Brees complete fewer than half of his passes. Rookie Alfred Morris, who came in with considerably lower expectations as a sixth-round pick out of Florida-Atlantic, rushed for 96 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. The offensive line was solid, paving the way for 153 rushing yards overall and giving up just one sack of Griffin.
But the Redskins have had nice rushing games before and they have played good defense before. The difference, for this one game at least, was the rookie behind center.