When Griffin came to the sideline prior to the game for his traditional greeting with his parents, his father, Robert Griffin Jr., told him: “You’ve worked hard. Now have some fun.” To his mother, Jacqueline, Griffin said, “I love you, mom,” and kissed her.
Griffin, who had suffered what was described as a grade one sprain of his LCL on Dec. 9 against Baltimore — causing him to miss the game the following week at Cleveland, against his wishes — had been telling family members all week that his knee was feeling good.
On the Wednesday before the Seattle game, during his usual midweek news conference, he had lobbied publicly to be allowed to play without the knee brace he had been wearing since the original injury.
“My leg, I can feel it healing,” Griffin had said, “so I might not wear the brace this week. . . . I try to do as much as I can without the brace, and whenever [the team’s medical personnel] find out I don’t have it on, I have to throw it on.”
Indeed, the person familiar with the situation said Griffin was constantly pushing the team’s medical staff to allow him to wear a brace with more flexibility than the doctors wanted. It was not clear whether he ever switched.
Four plays into the game, when the Redskins called for a quarterback keeper around the left side, Griffin passed up an obvious seam in the defense — which would have required a sharp cutback, the type of move he made constantly before the Dec. 9 injury — and continued gingerly toward the sideline for a modest three-yard gain.
That opening drive culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass to Evan Royster, giving the Redskins a 7-0 lead, and on their next possession the Redskins again pushed the ball inside the Seahawks’ 20-yard line.
Facing first and goal from the Seattle 4, Griffin took the snap, faked a handoff to running back Alfred Morris, and then rolled to his right. With Seattle outside linebacker Malcolm Smith converging on him as he neared the sideline, Griffin tried to stop himself – planting firmly on the right leg – and threw back across his body to wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the front of the end zone.
The throw fell short, and Griffin tumbled to the ground in pain, flipping his helmet off and rolling over to his stomach. When he got back up and put his helmet back on, he didn’t bother adjusting his knee brace, which had slid lower on his leg during the play. He hobbled badly as he returned to the huddle, but two plays later, Griffin completed a touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen, pushing the Redskins’ lead to 14-0.
Griffin came to the sideline following the touchdown and after a quick talk with Shanahan, retreated to the observation shed behind the bench.