Robert Griffin III gets knocked down Sunday (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III absorbed too many hits during the Washington Redskins’ loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals, Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday.

“You don’t want a quarterback taking as many shots as he did yesterday,” Shanahan said. “That’s for sure.”

Griffin was sacked six times in the Redskins’ 38-31 defeat. He also had a dozen rushing attempts.

The number of hits taken by Griffin has been a frequent topic of discussion this season at Redskins Park. But rarely, if ever, has Shanahan said so directly that Griffin took too many of them during a game.

He also suggested that the circumstances of Sunday’s game and the Redskins’ lack of offensive execution were to blame as much as the team’s offensive approach.

“You never want to play catch-up in the National Football League, if you can help it,” Shanahan said. “You don’t want to put yourself in third-and-long situations. If you do, your quarterback is going to have a number of sacks…If you keep on putting yourself in third and long, you’re going to have some shots, because that quarterback is going to concentrate downfield and he’s going to take some pretty good shots.”

Shanahan and other team officials have spoken about the need to have a solid team around Griffin to relieve some of the burden on their rookie quarterback if the Redskins are going to be successful this season. So far, the Redskins haven’t managed to follow that formula.

“You don’t want to put too much pressure on the quarterback,” Shanahan said Monday. “If you do, then he’s vulnerable to some of those shots that we just talked about and you’re going to put him into situations that he’s not ready for. The thing I loved about Robert, he’s not afraid of anything. He wants to go out there and compete.”