Harrison Smith, the Vikings’ free safety, had a good angle at Griffin near the sideline, but perhaps underestimated Griffin’s speed, because by the time Smith got into position to make a tackle, all he could do was dive at Griffin’s feet.
All that was left was the footrace between Griffin, with a five-yard lead, and Vikings backup safety Jamarca Sanford. And it was no contest, with Griffin — the 2008 Big 12 conference champion in the men’s 400-meter hurdles as a freshman at Baylor — toying with Sanford for the last 20 yards or so.
“That dude is special,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said of Griffin. “To look back at a DB the whole way? Man, he’s fast.”
For months, the Redskins have watched Griffin get to the outside on similar plays in practice, only to pull up and jog back to the huddle. They knew of his track prowess — though they jokingly told him they didn’t believe any of it — and always suspected there would come a time in a real game when he got to the outside and kept going. This was that time.
“I’d never seen him open up because in practice, he’d always turn around and come back,” Young said. “But today he opened up and I said, ‘Wow, so that’s what you can do.’ I heard about it. But to actually see it today — what was it, 76 yards? In the NFL, that’s a big deal, man, because . . . everyone’s fast in this league.”
Put a stopwatch to the final 40 yards of his run — with a full head of steam, to be sure, but also weighted down by his pads and his own choice to look back at Sanford several times — and it comes in at 4.08 seconds, just a few shades under the official 4.41 he ran at the NFL combine.
“I got to prove to those guys that I still have that track speed that they’ve been . . . saying I don’t have,” Griffin said with a huge grin. “I was able to break a long one. It always feels good when you can do that.”
Mike Jones contributed to this report.