But the lasting image of this game will be of Griffin, in obvious agony on the turf after his knee buckled under him in the fourth quarter, unable to maneuver himself to the loose ball that rolled just out of his reach — a fumbled snap that ultimately was recovered by the Seahawks. In the moments that followed, Griffin’s Redskins teammates kneeled in prayer while the team’s medical personnel tended to the fallen superstar.
“You’re talking about the franchise quarterback, a guy who has made so many plays to get you to this point,” said veteran linebacker London Fletcher, backing Shanahan’s decision to leave Griffin in the game. “If he tells you that he can [play], you have to rely on the player at that point in time and let him [play].”
A half-hearted chant of “R-G-3! R-G-3!” went up from the stands, as Griffin finally rose to his feet and, brushing off the offers for a shoulder to lean on, walked off the field on his own. The next time Griffin set foot on the field of play, he was walking towards midfield, surrounded by cameras, as the final seconds ticked off, to congratulate his Seahawks counterparts.
“The sky’s the limit for this team,” Griffin said later. “It’s just truly exciting, even though today is a very dim day.”
Even as the Redskins were sprinting to a 14-0 first-quarter lead — the entire stadium singing along in a full-throated rendition of “Hail to the Redskins” after each of their two touchdowns — there were already signs that Griffin was in trouble. On a rollout pass play near the Redskins’ sideline late in the first quarter — two plays before the second touchdown pass — Griffin appeared to plant awkwardly on his right leg, and he yanked off his helmet in agony as he rolled around on the ground.
Griffin, and by extension the Redskins, were never the same afterward. He was less RG3 than RG1/3, and there would not be another singing of the fight song, as the Seahawks reeled off 24 unanswered points.
The Redskins were helpless, and so were their fans. There were gimpy knees and sore shoulders on the sideline, and bruised hearts and crushed souls in the stands.
One and all will forever wonder whether the Redskins would have won with a healthy Griffin, or with a quicker move from Shanahan to replace Griffin with backup Kirk Cousins earlier in the game.
Those were only a few of the questions being asked Sunday night, as a stream of cars headed out of FedEx Field’s parking lots toward the Beltway, as heads hit pillows across the region, and as the second-guessing was only beginning.