But sparked by an interception returned for a touchdown by rookie cornerback David Amerson, a seven-sack performance by the defense and an improved offensive showing in the second half, the Redskins overtook the Raiders and earned their first victory of the season.
Robert Griffin III orchestrated his first comeback of the season, completing 18 of 31 passes for 227 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon led the team with six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, running back Alfred Morris had 71 rushing yards on 16 carries, and Roy Helu Jr. added 41 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
The Redskins now will report to team headquarters Monday and Tuesday and then depart for the bye. They’ll return to action Oct. 13 in Texas against NFC East rival Dallas, which lost, 30-21, in San Diego.
“It’s huge,” Griffin said. “We talked about it in the pregame. Our goal was to come out of here 1-3. There’s nothing else to say. We had to do whatever it takes to come out of this situation 1-3 going into the bye week, and I think that was big for us.”
Washington, trailing 14-3 early in the second quarter, received a much-needed boost from its defense when Amerson stepped in front of a Matt Flynn pass intended for Denarius Moore, picked it off and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. It marked both the first interception and touchdown of Amerson’s career, and the play cut the Raiders’ lead to 14-10 with 11 minutes 9 seconds left in the second quarter.
After the half, the defense took the field first and forced a punt. Griffin & Co. took over, badly needing some kind of positive break — and they got it.
Facing third and nine from his own 12, Griffin avoided the rush and completed a pass to tight end Logan Paulsen, who made the catch roughly 23 yards upfield. Paulsen rumbled another 10 yards before a gang of Raiders defenders surrounded him and held him up long enough for linebacker Nick Roach to pull the ball free. Safety Charles Woodson recovered at the 43-yard line.
The Redskins avoided disaster, however, as the defense held the Raiders in check, and place kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal wide left.
Washington capitalized by marching 58 yards in eight plays and scoring to take a 17-14 lead with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
Using runs of 12, seven and nine yards by Morris and a big 17-yard catch-and-run by Leonard Hankerson on third and three from the Oakland 29, the Redskins put themselves in scoring position. Then Griffin completed a five-yard pass to Garcon on a slant route into the end zone. Garcon dove across the goal line, jumped up and spiked the ball emphatically after giving his team its first second-half lead of the season.