“You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan,” Griffin said. “But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game.”
Shanahan said he would “probably second-guess myself” for not removing Griffin sooner. But he also said: “I promise you, if we thought it had something to do with Robert’s career and his injury and he shouldn’t be in there, we would have took him out.”
According to Shanahan, Griffin told him during the game that he was hurting but not injured and he therefore deserved a chance to keep playing.
“That was enough for me,” Shanahan said. “I thought he did enough for us this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game.”
Griffin has been playing with what was diagnosed as a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee while in college at Baylor.
There was no late-game magic left in Griffin Sunday when the Redskins got the ball with just more than seven minutes to go trailing 21-14. This wasn’t the same, fully healthy version of Griffin who had thrived in such late-game pressure situations throughout the season. He was sacked on first down. Then on second down, from the shotgun formation, he couldn’t reach a snap that was low and to his left. Griffin’s right knee buckled awkwardly as he reached down for the ball, and he remained on the ground in pain as the Seahawks recovered the loose ball.
Griffin remained on the ground but eventually was able to get to his feet and walk off the field, accompanied by members of the team’s medical staff. Rookie backup Kirk Cousins finished the game for the Redskins as their season was ended by a 24-14 defeat.
Griffin limped throughout the game after appearing to aggravate his injury in the first quarter just before the Redskins scored their second touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
Griffin’s lack of his usual burst was particularly noticeable as he limped toward the sideline and went out of bounds on a run for a nine-yard gain on the Redskins’ first offensive play of the fourth quarter. Cousins wore his helmet on the sideline for much of the second half, ready to go into the game if needed. But Shanahan stuck with Griffin until Griffin was unable to get off the turf without assistance. Griffin put his right arm around Shanahan’s shoulders after leaving the field for good.
“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there,” Griffin said. “But every time you step on the football field in between those lines you’re putting your life, your career, every single ligament in your body in jeopardy. That’s just the approach I had to take towards it. My teammates needed me out there. So I was out there for them.”