You have to say this about Robert Griffin III—he makes it interesting.
After getting knocked around by the Cincinnati Bengals for most of the first half and looking at a 17-point deficit, Griffin brought the Redskins back. The Redskins ultimately lost but Griffin made it close.
How close? Possession in the red zone with time enough to run a few plays, that’s how close.
The rookie’s ended up going 21 of 34 for 221 yards and one touchdown. For the second time in his three career games, he did not throw an interception. Griffin also ran 12 times for a team-leading 85 yards.
But the numbers don’t tell the story.
Trailing 24-7 with halftime approaching, Griffin got his team going. He got a drive jump started with an 11-yard run on third and 10. That set up a field goal to cut it to 24-10 at intermission.
In the second half, Griffin and the offense got on a roll. Back to back drives that covered 80 and 86 yards resulted in touchdowns that tied the game up at 24 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
During those two drives, Griffin was 4-4 passing for 52 yards and a three-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that capped the second drive. He also ran four times for 19 yards.
But when the offense slowed down, the Redskins defense let Cincinnati take control of the game. After forcing two three and outs and a fumble, the defense turned back into the sieve it was in the first half of the game. Back to back Bengals touchdown drives of 80 and 72 yards put the game out of reach.
After a penalty pushed the Redskins back to their own 10, Griffin accounted for 100 yards of offense during a 12-play drive (a 10-yard holding penalty let him pick up an additional 10 yards of stats). He was 8-10 passing for 93 yards and he ran twice for seven yards including a two-yard quarterback sneak that brought the Redskins within a touchdown with 3:35 to go.
Niles Paul touched an onside kick attempt just before it passed the required 10 yards and Cincinnati got the ball at the Washington 44. The Redskins were out of timeouts. Three plays later the Bengals punted and the ball rolled dead at the Redskins’ two. Griffin came in with 98 yards to go, not timeouts, and needing a touchdown to tie the game.
He did manage to get them into the red zone. Griffen passed to Josh Morgan for 11 yards, to Leonard Hankerson for 12 and they he scrambled for 10. A 15-yard personal foul was tacked onto the end of that run when Griffin was hit out of bounds (the defender went sprawling to the ground after the hit, RG3 stayed on his feet). Two plays later Griffin ran for 19 yards and all of a sudden the Redskins were in the red zone at the 19 with 29 seconds left. Could he do it?
No. Griffin averted a couple of sack attempts as he scrambled to make a play but he was finally corralled by Geno Atkins for a loss of 15. He spiked the ball to kill the clock but after a false start and a confusing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Hal Mary came from the Washington 41. It was short and incomplete and that was that.