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Offense Clicks With 'Backyard Football'


In the first seven weeks of his NFL career, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has all but rewritten the Redskins' single-season passing records and has already won the NFL's Rookie of the Week honors three times.

Sunday's game against the New York Giants was the first time all season that Griffin III turned the ball over more than once in a game, a broken streak that Griffin III took personally.

"I try not to approach the game like I'm a rookie. I don't try to give myself excuses," he said after the game.  "I throw an interception, [and people say] 'Well, he's a rookie.' But in my mind, I shouldn't have thrown that interception. 

"I just don't approach it that way and the team doesn't look at me as a rookie either.  I'm their leader, I'm their quarterback.  I have to hold myself accountable for everything, and I think that's why I'm able to go out there and be successful."

Griffin III's interception and two fumbles were part of a six-turnover performance by the Redskins's offense.  He took responsibility for the mishaps, but praised his teammates for continuing to fight for the win.

"We had turnovers today and we have no excuses for that," he said. "But like I was telling the guys in the locker room, we had the ball with a chance to win at the end of the game, even with those turnovers. 

"If we can cut down on those and continue to put points on the board, it's going to be hard to be stopped."

Part of the offense's scoring success against the Giants was set up by play-call.

With 8:52 remaining in the second quarter, the Redskins faced a third down on the Giants' 26-yard line.  Griffin III said the hot read was a screen pass to Santana Moss, who weaved to the end zone untouched for the go-ahead score.

With 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, Griffin III again found Moss, with a perfect over-the-shoulder catch for a 30-yard touchdown. 

Griffin III said after the game that he just followed his progressions and found Moss open.

"[Moss] is a guy who has seen it all and done it all.  You want to get the ball in his hands," he said.  "You don't want to force it to him because teams do know that it's Santana Moss. If he's open, I'm going to get it to him; if he's not I just move on."

An important part of the offensive identity in recent weeks has been the ability to make plays when the defense counters.  These have become opportunities for Griffin III to shine.

His 76-yard touchdown run against the Vikings occurred on a designed passing play.  After seeing two linebackers blitz up the middle, Griffin III sprinted for the sideline and ran untouched for the score.

On fourth-and-10 against the Giants, Griffin III scrambled to the sideline and avoided two defenders, buying his receivers eight seconds to get open.  He found Paulsen over the middle for a 19-yard gain, picking of the third fourth-down conversion of the day.

"They went to a soft defense and we had a good play call for that defense," Griffin III explained.  "Everyone was extremely deep and I had no reads for that, so I took off to the sideline just trying to give guys a chance to get open.  I made Pierre-Paul miss there and got it to Logan. 

"It was a good job by everyone staying alive on the play and never giving up.  Whether it's fourth down or first down, we had guys out there putting it on the line."

In the locker room, Paulsen compared the play to "backyard football," marveling at Griffin III's ability to keep the play alive. 

Griffin III laughed at the suggestion, noting that he tries to run the play as it is written, before getting creative.

"I tell everyone that you work through the play," he said. "Once you've run through the play and you've exhausted everything you can do, then you can play backyard football.

"It's not like you call a play and say 'Hey, we're going to go straight to backyard football.' It doesn't work as well that way. I exhausted my progression, ran outside, everyone stayed alive and it worked."

The Redskins lead the NFL this season in fourth-down conversions (six) and percentage of conversion (100) this season, thanks to the unit's focus in pressure situations.

"You have to [feel like you're in control]," Griffin III said.  "Even though you don't know what's going to happen, you have some kind of feeling something good is going to happen.  That's the way I try to play. 

"No matter what's called, I feel like it's going to work. If it doesn't work, we make it work some way or another.  It happened that way, it was a crazy play, but everything happens for a reason."

The Paulsen fourth-down conversion set up Moss's second touchdown, giving the Redskins a 23-20 lead. After the Giants scored to make it 23-27, the offense expected another fourth quarter comeback.

"Once [the Giants] scored, I was ready to go out and lead another touchdown drive for us to win the game," he said. "That's the kind of mindset that you have to have.

"When the game is on the line, you want the ball in your hands, and you believe you could do it.  There wasn't a doubt in my mind that we would go win that game."

"We went back out on the field and had a chance to win the game.  We didn't do that.  You just need to keep pushing forward and move on to the next week."




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