That play would be the only touchdown of the game. Griffin and the offensive starters were pulled after that, and the Redskins’ defense came out and held Buffalo’s starters in check for a third series. The Redskins limited the Bills starters to just 55 yards and two first downs. Buffalo had a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson negated by an illegal formation call.
Second-year outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan set the tone early for the Redskins’ defense, sacking Fitzpatrick on the Bills’ first offensive play. Kerrigan also recorded a quarterback pressure, a pass deflection and a tackle for a loss.
“Like Coach [Mike] Shanahan just said, no matter when it is, it’s always good to win,” Kerrigan said. “That’s the goal. Even if it’s preseason, it’s still fun to win . . . I think both sides of the ball really came out and played pretty well.”
Washington’s defense, which returns all seven starters up front, is expected to be the strength of the team as Griffin adjusts to the NFL behind an offensive line currently without three injured starters. The unit certainly did its part by keeping Buffalo out of the end zone. But Griffin also credited his defensive teammates for the success that he experienced in his NFL debut.
In the last two weeks of training camp practices, Washington’s defense has thrown exotic blitzes and coverages at their rookie quarterback in an attempt to test him. For this week at least, it worked. Griffin, who at times appeared hesitant in practices, worked through his progressions with ease and made quick decisions Thursday night.
“Practice is a lot harder than the games,” Griffin said with a smile. “It’s kind of the same in college, but even more so in the pros. . . . You come out to the game, and you can see all the reads a lot clearer . . . The holes were a lot bigger. I felt I was able to read things a lot cleaner and get the ball out of my hands.”
Said outside linebacker Brian Orakpo: “RGIII knows that the defensive pressure, and the outside linebackers we have, you’re not going to find that often around the league.”
On the scoring drive, the first team overcame a couple of gaffes that had thwarted their efforts on the first two possessions of the game.
On the first, after back-to-back one-yard carries by Evan Royster, Griffin attempted his first pass, which found the hands of Garcon on an out route. The former Indianapolis Colt secured the ball, but got only one foot down as he ran out of bounds, bringing on fourth and eight.