By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
10:51 PM EST, December 9, 2012
— The Washington Redskins captured their seventh win in 13 games on Sunday, but this win came with a rookie quarterback not named Robert Griffin III.
Kirk Cousins, the organization's fourth-round pick in the NFL draft, hit wide receiver Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown and then ran a quarterback draw for the two-point conversion to send Washington's game against the Ravens into overtime. Then after a Ravens three-and-out on offense and a 64-yard punt return by rookie Richard Crawford, Cousins positioned the Redskins for rookie Kai Forbath's 34-yard field goal to give the team the 31-28 win at FedEx Field.
Much of the postgame conversation centered on the health of Griffin, the second overall pick in April who was diagnosed with a right knee sprain after absorbing a hard hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as he scrambled for a 13-yard gain on Washington's final series in regulation.
Griffin, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in that same knee in his sophomore year at Baylor University, said he didn't think he suffered a similar injury Sunday.
"I am not a doctor, but I know what an ACL feels like, and it doesn't feel like an ACL," said Griffin, who walked stiffly into the team's interview room situated several yards away from the locker room. "So hopefully, we can have some positive things that come out of the MRI [magnetic resonance imaging exam]. We took an X-ray, and it was a very good X-ray. I feel the positive vibes coming my way, and hopefully, everything will be all right."
Griffin sat out one snap before returning to run four consecutive plays, including a 22-yard pass to Garcon. But after the fourth snap, Griffin came off the field for a second time, and coach Mike Shanahan knew that his star quarterback would remain out.
"I could see that he was hurting the second time that he came out," Shanahan said. "You could see his face. I did talk to the doctor, and we felt like it was in his best interest not to come back in. but he wanted to. We had to keep him from going back in. … Hopefully, the MRI will be negative."
If Griffin can't suit up for next Sunday's game at the Cleveland Browns, the offense will turn to Cousins, who is two years older than Griffin and not as blessed with Griffin's abilities.
But Cousins arced a nice pass over a leaping Chris Johnson to Garcon in the end zone and then sold the quarterback draw by dropping back before running up the middle for the game-tying two-point conversion.
Cousins said he didn't know much about Griffin's status, but said he will spend the week preparing for what may be a rare opportunity for him.
"I know very little as far as his condition, but I've got to approach like I have since Day 1 when I showed up here in May, and that's to think like I'm the starter and prepare like I'm the starter, and if my number's called upon, then I'll be ready to go," he said. "If it's not, I'm still ready to go. I feel like any preparation I do can't hurt."
Shanahan said he has a lot of trust in Cousins and third-string quarterback Rex Grossman, who was last year's starter.
"You always want your second-team quarterback prepared just like the first-team quarterback," Shanahan said. "He's done that since he's been here. It's really tough on that second- and third-team quarterback to not get very many reps, but you expect him to go into game situations and play as a starter. So his preparation has been great throughout the whole year. He's very on top of everything. He went in there and didn't miss a beat. So we were pleased with the way he played."
Cousins said veterans on the team have voiced their support, and rookie running back Alfred Morris echoed that sentiment in the locker room.
"I didn't doubt," Morris said. "I know that Kirk is a great quarterback. I told him that a long time ago. I was like, 'You're going to be great in this league, whether it's with the Washington Redskins or anywhere else. Just keep your head up.' I told him that a long time ago. So I wasn't worried once he came in the game."