“We lost the game,” said Griffin, who threw his first NFL interception and suffered his first professional defeat. “I didn’t make enough plays to help the team win. That’s the bottom line.”
The Redskins’ defense allowed Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to throw for 310 yards and three touchdowns. It permitted St. Louis wide receiver Danny Amendola to amass 15 catches for 160 yards. The Rams rallied from a 21-6 deficit in the second quarter to take a 31-28 lead on Bradford’s one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matthew Mulligan on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
That touchdown was set up by a blocked punt by Mulligan. It was the second punt that the Redskins have had blocked in two games this season, that after having a league-high five field goal attempts blocked last season.
Even so, the Redskins (1-1) had a chance. They recovered a fumble by Rams rookie tailback Daryl Richardson with just less than three minutes remaining, and Griffin’s seven-yard completion to Morgan would have put them in a fourth-and-one situation at the St. Louis 29-yard line. Coach Mike Shanahan could have left Griffin and his offense on the field for a fourth-down gamble, or could have sent in place kicker Billy Cundiff for a 47-yard field goal try to attempt to tie the score.
Instead, Morgan retaliated to a shot to his jaw after the play by Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, he said, by getting up and throwing the ball in Finnegan’s direction. Morgan was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Shanahan was left sending in Cundiff for a 62-yard field goal attempt that fell well shy with just more than a minute to play, and the Rams (1-1) ran out the clock.
“He’d been doing stuff all game,” Morgan said. “They all were. [You] all saw the game. But I should’ve just kept my calm and kept it moving.”
Morgan had spoken during the week about the need to not allow Finnegan to get to him. But he failed to heed his own warning. “You can’t lose your poise,” Shanahan said.
It was a game in which emotions ran high on both sides and the replacement officials had difficulty at times keeping things under control. Rams tailback Steven Jackson was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the first half for spiking the ball after the officials ruled that he’d failed to reach the goal line on a carry from the Redskins 1-yard line.
“I do think it did get out of hand,” Griffin said. “But it’s not my job to enforce that.”
Shanahan said he’d never seen a game like it. The Redskins also were fuming about a hit on tight end Fred Davis late in the game that they felt was an illegal shot to his head, which went uncalled. Shanahan said he was told by the officials that none of them had seen it.