August 20, 2012
By Ceci Ferrara
It’s just a preseason game. Right?
That’s what Redskins fans might be asking themselves after watching the second preseason game against the Bears. While RG3 looked cool and confident in his NFL debut two weeks ago, he struggled on Saturday, going 5-for-8 for 49 yards with no touchdowns. He was almost better rushing, totaling 17 yards on three runs.
Griffin had trouble getting the ball away quickly, leading to three sacks that night, one of which resulted in a fumble recovery and a Bears touchdown. At the end of the second, quarter Brandon Banks had a 91-yard punt return for a TD that gave the Redskins some much-needed points but saw them still trailing 20-10 at the half.
Kirk Cousins inherited the deficit but did his best to turn it around. He went 18-for-23 for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He turned the game from a 20-point deficit (the Skins were trailing 30-10 entering the fourth quarter) into a one-point lead before Robbie Gould nailed an impressive 57-yard field goal for the Bears with just 31 seconds left.
Just because Cousins outshone Griffin on Saturday doesn’t mean he will now be the starting quarterback. If it were a few weeks into the regular season, there might be cause for concern. But for all intents and purposes, it was a practice game, and coach Shanahan has expressed his faith in RG3, naming him the starter long before the preseason games began. The Redskins traded away several years of draft picks to bring RG3 to D.C., and it will take a lot for them to give up on him.
That being said, Griffin will have a chance to redeem himself on Saturday, when he faces off against the Colts’ new QB and number one draft pick Andrew Luck. It will be RG3’s home debut at FedEx Field, and a chance for him to prove the Redskins are betting on the right quarterback.
The Nationals continued their surprise breakout season on Sunday, when Gio Gonzalez pitched them to a 5-2 win against the Mets after a nearly three-hour rain delay. With their win and a loss by the Braves, the Nats extended their division lead by five games.
Gonzalez is one of the team’s strongest pitchers and lasted almost six innings before being pulled, allowing just one run on seven hits. Sunday’s victory not only boosted the Nationals to 75-46, but was Gonzalez’s 16th win of the season—a team record (Livan Hernandez won 15 games their first year in Washington). He now joins Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and Tampa Bay’s David Price for most wins in the Majors.
Gonzalez made sure not all of the credit was put on him, telling reporters it was “definitely a team accomplishment.” He also made sure his relievers got credit: “I couldn’t have done this without them. The bullpen has been our biggest key, and I said it since the beginning: These guys come and clean up our mess. They are constantly working hard for us.”
Also of note was Bryce Harper’s performance. After being benched by Coach Davey Johnson on Saturday, he came out swinging and contributed a triple and solo homerun.
The Nationals will next host the Braves in a very important three-game series beginning Monday night. It is an opportunity for both teams, with the Nats looking to pull away and clinch the division, and the Braves looking to close the gap and keep themselves in the running.