LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Robert Griffin III didn't slide, and now the Washington Redskins hope their season isn't sliding away.
Griffin finished his longest run of the year, finally flashing the speed he showed before offseason surgery on a torn ligament in his right knee, with an awkward headfirst dive near the Detroit Lions 29-yard line in the fourth quarter.
The ball popped loose, and the Lions recovered the fumble.
On the next possession, the Redskins gave up the go-ahead score in a 27-20 loss Sunday afternoon, dropping to 0-3 for the first time since 2001.
"I was trying to declare myself down, avoid the big hit from the safeties coming from the middle," Griffin said. "Knee down, elbow down.
"But it's the rule. It can be a (bad) rule, but it's still one of the NFL rules, and they said it's a fumble. So, it's unfortunate, and I've just got to make sure if I dive forward, hold onto the ball."
Said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan: "Probably next time, he'll do a normal slide instead of head first."
Like Griffin on the fateful play, Washington dove headfirst into a season filled with high expectations after winning the NFC East a year ago.
"If you told us we'd be 0-3 right now, we'd all be shocked," Griffin said. "It's fine. Sometimes, you've got to have that wakeup call, and we've had the wakeup call the first two weeks. We played better today, but we didn't get the win. So, it's time for us to dig even deeper."
Several Redskins players expressed their confidence in the team, but the result has yet to change.
"A house divided against itself shall fall," running back Alfred Morris said. "I said the same thing last week."
After the Lions took a 20-17 lead following Griffin's fumble, the Redskins thought they had gone back in front when Griffin hit Aldrick Robinson on a post pattern for an apparent 57-yard touchdown with 9:05 to play.
But replays showed the ball coming loose as the receiver went to the ground.
Incomplete pass. Those celebrations were for nothing.
"It was really unfortunate that we lost the game on two calls, two judgment calls," Griffin said.