Redskins vs. Ravens: Despite injury to Robert Griffin III, Washington still in the thick of playoff race

Washington Redskins survive the loss of rookie QB Robert Griffin III and pull off a last-second comeback, keeping playoff hopes alive with flair. (The Washington Post)
December 9, 2012

After a day of anxious moments and exhilarating plot twists, a long Sunday of high drama ended for the Washington Redskins where it had begun: still in the thick of the race for the NFC East crown and a wild-card playoff spot.

With Sunday’s improbable 31-28 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Redskins continued to reassemble their once-broken season with a fourth straight win, upping their record to 7-6. They remained one game behind the first-place New York Giants in the NFC East, and one game in back of the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears in the race for one of two wild-card playoff spots in the NFC.

The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, who both won Sunday, are also 7-6. The Redskins have beaten both teams, however.

The Redskins now face road games in Cleveland and Philadelphia the next two weekends before they close the season at home Dec. 30 against the Cowboys.

“We continue to win and put ourselves in the best situation,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “But like each and every week since we’ve been on this run, we’ve got to continue to stay focused and not get ahead of ourselves and take each and every week like a playoff game. At any time, anybody can jump up. So we’re not taking Cleveland lightly, whatever their record is.”

The three-game losing streak that dropped the Redskins’ record to 3-6 is a fading memory. So, too, are Coach Mike Shanahan’s postgame comments following a Nov. 4 loss to the Carolina Panthers about spending the rest of the season evaluating players, which prompted questions about whether Shanahan was giving up on the season.

The Redskins regrouped during their bye week and returned to beat the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants to set the stage for Sunday’s victory over the Ravens, who began the day with a record of 9-3.

“We’ve got to win,” Redskins tight end Niles Paul said. “It’s a must-win situation. We’re playing some good ball. We’ve got to keep this winning streak going.”

Robert Griffin III has been the Redskins’ Mr. Everything all season, a rookie so brilliant that his play has elevated him into the NFL most valuable player conversation. But his knee bent awkwardly on a jarring hit by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata at the end of another of Griffin’s breathtaking runs late in the fourth quarter.

Team spokesman Tony Wyllie said later Sunday evening that Griffin underwent an MRI exam and “everything is clear.” Griffin did not tear his anterior cruciate or medial collateral ligaments, Wyllie said. He called the injury a knee sprain and added that Shanahan will provide further details Monday. It remained unclear whether Griffin will be able to play next weekend.

Griffin wrote on Twitter: “Your positive vibes and prayers worked people!!!! To God be the Glory!”

Griffin spent one play on the sideline, then returned to the game for four plays before exiting for good.

“I knew I needed to get out at that point,” he said. “I couldn’t move. At some point you have to do what’s right for the team. If I would have played the rest of the game, I probably would have hurt myself even more.”

For one day, at least, Griffin had to share the team’s rookie-quarterback spotlight with Kirk Cousins.

“I just told him, ‘I’m proud of you. Let’s try to make the playoffs now. Let’s go make the playoffs,’ ” Cousins said.

The Redskins, after totaling only 11 wins in Shanahan’s first two seasons as coach, will be playing big games in the late stages of this season. Whether those big games will be played with Griffin or Cousins as their quarterback remains to be determined.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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