Maybe Robert Griffin III and the Redskins have hit rock bottom. Maybe they haven’t. But they sure did look bad in front of a national television audience on Monday night.
Griffin finished 17 of 27 for 127 yards and one interception. His passer rating of 58.7 was the third lowest of his NFL career. He has had worse ratings in two games in the past six weeks.
But at least in those other games Griffin was able to get his team in the end zone. According to ESPN, Griffin had never played a game at Baylor or with the Redskins in which his team’s offense did not score a touchdown. That streak ended at 67 games.
“We’re all frustrated. Everybody is tired of losing,” said Griffin. One thing to take away, one thing that we’re not, we’re not quitters.”
The Redskins mustered just 30 yards of offense and one first down in the entire second half.
“We haven’t been dominated like that since I’ve been here,” said Mike Shanahan.
Griffin didn’t go into much detail about what went wrong. “What am I supposed to do, come up here and talk about how bad we are?" he asked rhetorically.
It’s not as though Griffin got much help. His line provided scant protection as he got sacked four times and was running for his life on many other occasions. That same line couldn’t provide any running room for Alfred Morris, who picked up just 52 yards rushing on 14 carries. And the Washington defense breathed life into struggling 49ers QB Colin Kapernick.
But last year it seemed that Griffin would lift the team over and above whatever wasn’t going right. But on Monday, as in most of the rest of the season, he either was unable to pull his team past the problems or he contributed to them.
Griffin had a rocky first half. The Redskins went three and out on their first three series with Griffin unable to get anything going with the exception of a few runs. Near the end of the first quarter the Redskins got something going until Griffin threw an interception to safety Donte Whitner.
It was one of those mistakes that Griffin never seemed to make as a rookie last year. Defensive end Justin Smith didn’t bite on a play action bootleg. As the defender zeroed in on Griffin, the quarterback threw the ball towards Pierre Garçon around the hash mark. But Whitner was in much better position to make the catch and he made the easy pick.
San Francisco drove for a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. At that point, Griffin was 0-6 passing with the one interception. His passer rating was a perfect 0.00.
But then things turned around for Griffin and the Redskins. Alfred Morris got a drive going on the ground and they moved into the red zone. But the drive fizzled after Griffin threw into the vicinity of two receivers on first down and he couldn’t get off an accurate pass against an all-out blitz on third down. A Kai Forbath field goal cut the lead to 10-3.
Things got going again on the Redskins’ next possession. Santana Moss snagged a low Griffin pass to pick up 18 yards on third and nine. Then Josh Morgan gained another 18 down the sideline.
But this drive died in the red zone as well. Griffin wasted a timeout after Garçon went out of bounds after a catch and then he fumbled while scrambling. That forced them to burn their final timeout. After a completion to Garçon was inbounds and short of the first down, the field goal team scrambled onto the field and Forbath’s 35-yarder made it 10-6 at the half.
As bad as the half was, it was better than the second.
"For us, as players and coaches, you have to believe,” said Griffin.
It’s hard for people on the outside to see much to believe in right now.