ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Just four games into his NFL career, Robert Griffin III is already carrying the Washington Redskins on his back — instead of the other way around.
The rookie from Baylor gives the Redskins hope in a way they haven't experienced in a long time. They might not win many games — or they might surprise and make a playoff push — but at least with Griffin they always feel they have a fighting chance each week, something that can't be said about some among the merry-go-round of quarterbacks the team has employed over the last two decades.
Santana Moss said Monday that he's played with a lot of them, "And the one thing that I'm sure of: That when it comes down to Robert, he just has that ..."
Moss hesitated in mid-sentence, searching for the right words.
"He's born with whatever he has," Moss continued. "It's in him. So you can be sure when something breaks down he's going to make a play in some kind of way, and I haven't played with a lot of those guys."
Griffin now has his first fourth-quarter, hurry-up-offense comeback win, driving the Redskins 56 yards to set up Billy Cundiff's field goal with 3 seconds to play in Sunday's 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He made some plays that you always want a quarterback to make," coach Mike Shanahan said. "A lot of times they can't make those plays this early in their career."
With the headset malfunctioning, Griffin called some of his own plays during the final drive. One of the biggest gains was made with his feet, a 15-yard scramble that put the Redskins (2-2) in field goal range and saved them from a defeat that might have sent them spiraling toward another long, disheartening season.
The schedule is about to get extremely tough — the undefeated Atlanta Falcons are up next — so Sunday's game was essentially a must-win against the struggling Buccaneers (1-3). Yet the Redskins still managed to blow a 21-3 lead, falling behind on a field goal with 1:42 remaining.
Washington's two victories this season have come against opponents with a combined record of 1-7.
"If we had lost, the way it would have gone down would have been especially demoralizing," tight end Logan Paulsen said. "To be up 21-6 at halftime and then to kind of just slowly like give it away, I think that would have been a disaster. Also, being 1-3, that's pretty serious at this point in the season."
Griffin is on pace to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000. He's completing almost 70 percent of his passes. He's only thrown one interception. And he knows how to light up a room: He quoted the move "The Replacements" in the postgame news conference Sunday.
"I respect all those other quarterbacks," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "But, just athletically, nobody can come close to him. ... It is surprising — I thought he would have more mistakes at this point."
Instead, it's the rest of the team that's making the miscues. Shanahan's supposedly disciplined team leads the NFL with 356 yards in penalties. The secondary got torched again Sunday and has allowed an NFL-high six completions of 40-plus yards. Only the Buccaneers — the team the Redskins just beat — are allowing more yards passing per game than the 326.2 that opponents are putting up against Washington.
"At the end of the day, we're fortunate to have that," said Moss, referring again to Griffin's late heroics. "With that said, we can't rely on that all the time."
Helping to keep the Redskins competitive is a ground game that is producing an NFL-best 175.5 yards per game. Sixth-round pick Alfred Morris had his first 100-yard rushing effort Sunday.
But, right now, it all starts and ends with RG3.
"He doesn't play like his age," Moss said. "He don't approach the game that way. He approaches the game like he's been here before."
Notes: S Brandon Meriweather will miss next week's game — and possibly longer — after re-injuring his left knee in a pregame collision with WR Aldrick Robinson. Meriweather had been planning to play Sunday after missing the first three games with a sprain in the same knee. ... The collision knocked Robinson out for more than a minute, so he also couldn't play Sunday and will be reevaluated later this week. ... Cundiff missed three field goals Sunday before hitting the game-winner. Shanahan said the team won't be working out any kickers this week, although that doesn't rule out a new kicker being signed.
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