Griffin Great in NFL Debut; Nats Get Shut Out by Marlins
September 10, 2012
By Ceci Ferrara
Back in his native New Orleans, Robert Griffin III certainly put on a show.
In the Heisman Trophy winner’s NFL debut, RG3 demonstrated why the Redskins traded away years of draft picks to bring him to Washington. The Redskins have struggled for a long time, mostly because they have lacked a reliable, much less stellar quarterback. In RG3, it now seems they have found that missing piece.
Griffin completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His outing was not only impressive but historical: He surpassed Peyton Manning as the rookie with the second-most pass yards in his NFL debut (Cam Newton holds top honors with 422 yards in his debut last season). He is also the only rookie to throw for 300 or more yards in a winning NFL debut game.
Facing the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome in the first game of the season seemed like a daunting feat, as the Saints scored 40 or more points in all of their home games last year. But it was Washington, not New Orleans, that was hot on offense: Thanks to two touchdowns and two field goals by new kicker Billy Cundiff, they led 20-14 heading into the half.
Drew Brees and the Saints never gave up, however. Rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns. A 2-yd touchdown pass to Darren Sproles and a successful two-point conversion put the Saints back into the game trailing just 40-32 with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter. Griffin responded with his own 22-yd pass to secure a first down and a chance to run down the clock.
Brees got the ball back with just 22 seconds to go, but his desperate throw with time expiring was intercepted near the goal line by Reed Doughty. However, Brees, who had praised Griffin earlier in the week, calling him a “winner” and a “phenomenal athlete,” was a true sportsman, waiting on the field afterwards to tell him he was proud of him. “That’s big of him to say that after they’d just lost the game,” Griffin told reporters.
Griffin impressed fans and critics alike, summing Sunday up as a “storybook ending for my first game.”
Miami may be last in the National League East, but that didn’t stop them from giving the front-running Nationals a hard time when they came to town this weekend.
While Strasburg has been dominant all season, he struggled in both his starts against Miami this season. On August 28th, he allowed seven runs in five innings in a Nationals 9-0 loss; on Friday, he lasted only three innings, but allowed five runs on six hits. Afterwards, the Nationals announced their star was being shut down a week early: Strasburg will not be taking the mound against the Mets on Wednesday.
The Nats bounced back Saturday, overcoming a two-and-a-half hour rain delay to defeat the Marlins 7-6 in 10 innings. Jayson Werth had a solo homerun in the bottom of the 9th to tie the score 6-6, and they avoided a marathon extra-inning game when Ian Desmond scored on what should’ve been a fly ball by Corey Brown.
Unfortunately, that would be the only game of the series that the Nats would come out of on top. On Sunday, they were shut out by Ricky Nolasco, getting just four hits in the 8-0 loss. It was the second time in less than a month that Nolasco shut out the Nationals: On August 28th, he struck out six and walked one in the 9-0 loss that was also Strasburg’s worst outing of the season.
It should be noted that Nats manager Davey Johnson rested starters such as Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman, in a game where the team didn’t get a man past second base. With the losses, the Nats’ lead over the Braves slips to 5 1/2 games, the latter team having just swept the Mets on a five-game winning streak. The Nats and Braves will meet next Monday for a three-game series, which, depending on how both teams play this week, could have a major impact on the National League East.