A week after suffering a concussion, he wasn’t merely cleared to play; he was cleared for takeoff.
And take off he did, turning on the afterburners, glowing incandescently as he raced past his screaming, fist-pumping teammates and coaches along the left sideline.
Griffin didn’t just win a football game with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, when he took off on one of the most electrifying touchdown runs anyone could remember since Michael Vick used these same Vikings as traffic cones in a 2002 overtime game.
Between his impromptu leap into the howling stands afterward, the smile, the jubilation felt by people falling over each other, it went so much deeper.
For the first time during an NFL regular season game in almost 13 months, people walked out of FedEx Field happy. Groups of fans chanted on the way back to their vehicles parked in the Orange and Green lots. “R-G-III! R-G-III!” Players laughed and clasped hands with teammates in the locker room, knowing they would have Monday off after a home game for the first time since Sept. 18, 2011 — the last time the Redskins won a game here.
For the first time in 48 hours, one of the most crushing Washington sports weekends in recent memory was interrupted by hope. Hope, brought on by one mesmerizing highlight, one magnificent, mood-altering player.
One 76-yard, game-sealing, film-at-11, good-night-Minnesota jaunt off left guard was all it took. Depending upon whom you asked afterward, Griffin hit the corner like either Usain Bolt or Kyle Busch.
Either way, 13 seconds later, it was gone. All of it:
●The thought of another collapse by a team representing the District after the Nationals’ crushing loss Friday night. What was announcer Dick Stockton’s line on the Fox broadcast? “The Vikings could be the St. Louis Cardinals of football?”
●The thought of a ninth straight home loss over two seasons.
●The thought that Griffin’s concussion would force him to scale back on his running.
Every dream-killing, doomsayer moment weighing this town and franchise down died Sunday at FedEx Field when Griffin took off with that football.
And here’s the best part: He knew the larger picture, what was really at stake.
“We knew to lose eight straight at home was unacceptable for any kind of sport,” Griffin said afterward. “ . . . Even though I wasn’t here for that whole time, I’m still part of this organization and I take on those burdens with all the other guys.
“With the Nationals losing down the stretch, of course that’s tough. I saw on my Twitter feed they hoped we would win to get people over that. You take all those things into account. And I think a lot of the fans, a lot of people from around this area, will appreciate us coming away with a victory.”