By Tarik El-Bashir
Grade vs. Buccaneers: A-
Comment: The 24 points Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense amassed vs. the Buccaneers represented the fewest they’ve scored this season. But it also could be argued that the unit would have put up 30 had kicker Billy Cundiff connected from 41 and 31 yards.
Either way, the offense is the primary reason the Redskins own a 2-2 record at the quarter mark of the 2012 campaign. The unit amassed 474 yards of total offense in Sunday’s 24-22 victory in Tampa, marking the second time in four games they've surpassed 400 yards. (It happened only three times all last season).
And they’ve got two rookies to thank for it.
Griffin had his best game as a professional, Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday, and Alfred Morris eclipsed the century mark for the first time.
In fact, the two most important plays of the game were provided by the first-year standouts. (They are the first rookie teammates to each rush for four touchdowns in their team’s first four games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. They're also tied for the league-lead in rushing touchdowns.)
Morris’ 39-yard touchdown run in the second quarter showcased the one-cut-and-up-the-field style that has made him so successful in Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. After taking a handoff from Griffin, Morris hit the hole left tackle Trent Williams had opened, cut back hard, then burst into the secondary. Williams' block, meantime, highlighted a strong performance by the offensive line.
With 113 yards on 21 attempts (5.4 yards per) against the Bucs, Morris joined Larry Brown (1972), John Riggins (‘83), George Rogers (‘86), Earnest Byner (‘91) and Terry Allen (‘96) as the only Redskins’ backs since the 1970 merger to record at least 75 yards in each of the first four weeks of a season, according to the team.
“As we talk about each week, he can make the first person miss, which a lot of people can’t do in the National Football League,” Shanahan said Monday. “He’s extremely tough. He’s very smart – no nonsense type mindset that he’s going to go out there and try to prove himself every week. He’s one of those type of guys that you love to cheer for because he’s all business.”
Griffin didn’t pass for a touchdown, but he rushed for one and directed the game-winning drive without the assistance of a functioning headset in his helmet. Facing a second and six and the clock winding down, Griffin took a snap in the shotgun, quickly surveyed the field, then sprinted 15 yards up the middle to the Tampa Bay 26 yard line to help set up Cundiff’s winning kick.
Griffin posted career highs for completions (26), attempts (39) and yards passing (323). He’s also now ranked fourth in the NFL in passer rating (103.2).
On Monday, veteran wide receiver Santana Moss said the team must guard against relying so much on Griffin’s ability to make something out of nothing. But Moss quickly added that it’s nice to know Griffin can.
“I thought he played his best game of the year yesterday,” Shanahan said. “I thought he handled himself extremely well. [He] made some plays that you always want a quarterback to make. A lot of times, they can’t make those plays this early in their career. I’m talking about the two-minute drive, some play action passes, quarterback keeps that I thought were exceptional.”