By Tarik El-Bashir
Grade vs. Falcons: C-
Comment: The biggest story line, obviously, was the injury to Robert Griffin III. But even before the rookie left the game in the third quarter, the offense was well on its way to its weakest outing of the season.
The unit recorded season lows in points (10), first downs (12) and total yards (316). The two turnovers – rookie backup Kirk Cousins tossed a pair of picks – also were the most in a game this season.
Other than Alfred Morris rushing for a career high 115 yards against a weak Falcons’ run defense, and Cousins’ 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, there wasn’t much to like about the offense’s execution.
The unit struggled especially on third downs, converting only one of nine opportunities. Two in particular stand out. With Ryan and the Falcons off to a sluggish start, Fred Davis dropped a pass over the middle to stall one drive and Griffin misfired to Moss another the next drive. There were others, but the unit’s failure to snag some points while Ryan struggled cost the Redskins in the end.
“We make a couple of those plays, just three or four, and keep drives going, you have a chance to have a dominating day,” Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. “We still had an opportunity to win, even with those crazy [third down] stats as they were.”
The offense definitely missed Griffin’s decision-making and versatility in the fourth quarter as it attempted to rally from a 24-17 deficit. Cousins was intercepted on each of the Redskins’ final two drives. On the first, he attempted to force the ball into double coverage. On the second, the rookie was hit as he released the ball, which sailed over Moss’ head and into the hands of a waiting Thomas DeCoud.
Griffin’s status Sunday’s game against Minnesota remains unclear, but if he cannot suit up, Shanahan hinted that Cousins would make his first NFL start.