A dazed Robert Griffin III watched from the sideline as the Falcons offense marched 69 yards for a touchdown to give Atlanta a 24-17 victory over the Redskins in front of 75,337 fans at FedEx Field. Atlanta improved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Griffin exited the game in the third quarter woozy from a slobber knocker delivered by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The Redskins top pick took a few minutes before being helped to his feet to take a few wobbly steps to the sideline. On the sideline, the Washington medical staff attended to the rookie’s chin.
Before the hit, the Skins top pick had completed 10 of 15 passes for 91 yards. Draft-mate Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin delivering big dividends in the first series of the fourth quarter. Cousins threw for 111 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Most of his passing yards were courtesy of a 77 yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that gave Washington a 17-14 lead early in the final quarter. “I think there was supposed to be a deep safety who just didn’t get back there,” said Cousins. “I just ended up following my read and Santana was the first part of the progression and he popped open.”
Down the stretch, Cousins interceptions cut short the Redskins comeback hopes. “I tried to force it,” admitted Cousins . “I tried to do too much. I need to take the check down.”
Washington running back Alfred Morris had another spectacular day rushing for 115 yards on 18 carries. “I’ve said that from day 1, he’s got all the things you look for in a running back,“ said Washington Head Coach Mike Shanahan. “He’s tough. He’s hard-nosed. He’s a first, second, third down back and doesn’t seem to get tired.”
Atlanta countered Morris’ rushing efforts with not so secret weapon Matt Ryan. Ryan atoned for his back-to-back turnovers finishing with 34 completions on 52 passes for 345 yards and 2 scores. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan intercepted Ryan at the 28 yard line for a pick six and the early lead. Ryan’s fumble on the next series didn’t result in points for the Redskins.
Ryan eliminated the miscues connecting with nine different receivers; three of them had 4 or more receptions for over 50 yards.
Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez looked very much like his twenty-something self finishing the game with 13 receptions for 123 yards and an acrobatic touchdown.
“I thought he did a great job,” said Ryan of Gonzalez’s performance. “Tony, statistically, probably had one of the best games he’s had since he’s been a Falcon.”
Washington’s defense kept the Falcons big plays to a minimum most of the day. “We play well enough at times but not well enough to win,” said Skins defensive lineman Barry Cofield. “ Twenty-four points is too much for us for the goals that we set.
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