Griffin’s electrifying 76-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter Sunday — the longest by a quarterback in franchise history — provided the final cushion in the Redskins’ 38-26 victory and produced what may have been the rookie quarterback’s signature moment of this season.
“I just took off running,” Griffin said, “and the rest is history. I got to enjoy the moment a little bit. It was pretty fun to hear the crowd and see my teammates on the sidelines celebrating as I ran for the touchdown.”
As the Redskins huddled for the third-and-six play from their own 24, with 2 minutes 56 seconds left in the game and the Redskins’ lead — once a comfortable 19 points — down to just five, several players voiced the prevailing thought: Someone needs to make a play.
The play call from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was a fairly simple drop-back pass play from the shotgun formation. Wide receiver Josh Morgan was split out to the left. Two more wideouts were on the right, joined by tight end Fred Davis, who went in motion prior to the snap. Joining Griffin in the backfield was running back Evan Royster.
Although the Vikings had rarely blitzed all afternoon, Griffin could see a pair of linebackers creeping toward the line, ready to pounce. If the Vikings sent six pass-rushers, they would almost certainly be in man-to-man coverage in the secondary.
“I saw the double ‘A’-gap blitz,” Griffin said. “And I was thinking I was either going to throw ‘hot,’ or if they miss this blitz — don’t hit it the right way — then I’m going to run for the first [down].”
Indeed, once the Vikings’ blitz failed to reach Griffin immediately — with Royster adeptly picking up middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley — Griffin tucked the ball and ran so quickly, it was unclear at first whether the play was a designed run or a pass.
The only Vikings defender to have any sort of shot at tackling Griffin near the line of scrimmage was linebacker Chad Greenway, who dove at Griffin’s ankles as he went by but came up empty.
“I wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” Greenway said. “I just tried to come back and make [the tackle]. I didn’t have much of a chance at all.”
As Griffin took off towards the Redskins’ sideline, teammates and coaches were yelling at him to slide — an acknowledgment of both the concussion Griffin suffered the week before on a similar run toward the sideline, and of the need to keep the clock running by staying in bounds.