Griffin and the Redskins had plenty to overcome on this sunny afternoon —their own sluggish start on offense, some special-teams blunders, an early two-touchdown deficit and the loss of tailback Alfred Morris to a rib contusion just when there finally was a second-half lead to protect.
With their season perhaps hanging in the balance, the Redskins shrugged all of that off. Griffin gave the team its first second-half lead of the season with a third-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon. He provided a dose of fourth-quarter magic with a play that recalled his dynamic rookie season, eluding a Raiders pass rush and delivering a strike to running back Roy Helu Jr.
to set up Helu’s touchdown dash that upped the Redskins’ lead to 24-14.
They held on from there, and will enter the bye week only a game behind the first-place Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The Redskins’ next game is at Dallas on Oct. 13.
“You’ve got to find a way to win when you’re 0-3,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “A three-game losing streak is not a lot of fun for anybody. So to come here and get a win before the bye week, get a little bit healthy, it’ll be a big plus for us, especially with everybody losing in the division. You feel like you might have gained a little bit of momentum.”
Said Griffin: “Nobody wants to be at 1-3 four weeks into the season, don’t get me wrong. But we have to make the best of our situation. It’s a good situation for us right now, seeing the way our division’s played out. . . . All you have to do is win your division and you get in the playoffs. And that’ll be our focus moving ahead. We’ve just got to keep winning games and keep ourselves in a good situation to make the playoffs.”
Griffin had a decent game, connecting on 18 of 31 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception. But he and the offense struggled early on while the Raiders were racing to a 14-0 lead with one touchdown on a blocked punt and a touchdown pass by fill-in starting quarterback Matt Flynn.
Even so, Griffin said: “I don’t think anybody was down. I think the leaders on the team, it was our job to make sure that guys know we’ve got to fight.”
The Redskins scored the game’s final 24 points. Griffin’s flashiest contribution came when he sidestepped Oakland’s pass rush and found Helu for a 28-yard completion midway through the fourth quarter. Helu’s 14-yard touchdown run on the next play pushed the lead to 10 — where it stayed.
“You’ve got to believe,” Griffin said. “We came in here knowing that we had to come out of here 1-3. . . . Guys will be able to enjoy their bye week a little bit more after this win. And then we come back, we’ve got to get on a winning streak to get back to where we want to be.”
It ended up being a feel-good performance on many fronts for the Redskins, as their beleaguered defense contributed seven sacks and a touchdown on an interception return by rookie cornerback David Amerson.
“We refused to go home and get on that plane with a loss,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “That’s something we emphasized. We’re still in the race. It’s still early. Guys came out here and played with a lot of passion, a lot of intensity, regardless of all the adversity we faced in the first half. We just came back and just hung in there.”