Griffin’s reaction to the end of the Redskins’ winning drive — a 41-yard field goal by place kicker Billy Cundiff with three seconds left for a 24-22 victory — was one of unrestrained joy. He sprang to his feet as the kick sailed inside the goalpost, then made a beeline to the field, where teammates were mobbing Cundiff.
Between the focus and the joy was a veteran quarterback’s seminar in the two-minute drill, conducted by a 22-year-old rookie in his fourth NFL start who was handed a terrible situation — down by a point in a hostile environment, down to his last timeout, a blown 18-point lead, with a helmet headset that suddenly stopped working. He turned it into the most satisfying sort of victory.
“You try to rise to the occasion,” Griffin said.
Facing a defense that had held the Redskins’ league-leading offense scoreless in the second half until that point, Griffin marched the Redskins 56 yards in seven plays on the decisive drive. He completed all four of his passes (not counting a spike to stop the clock) for 46 yards and scrambled for another critical 15-yard gain.
“A lot of poise there in the fourth quarter,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “That’s what you’ve got to have in your quarterback.”
All the while, Griffin’s headset — the link for play calls between him and the coaching staff — was kaput. When there was time, he veered toward the sideline to get the next play. Otherwise, he called the play himself.
“Every week, we always practice me calling the plays [as if] the headset has gone out,” Griffin said. “The funny thing is, the headset did go out on that drive. . . . So it was neat how that practice scenario played out in the game.”
At the 20, Griffin crouched in the middle of the Redskins’ huddle – the only huddle they would convene on the final, hectic drive. “It was like it was the first play of the game,” said center Will Montgomery. “He’s like, ‘all right, guys. Let’s go do this.’ He’s a cool, calm operator.”
On that first play, Griffin hit veteran wide receiver Santana Moss over the middle for a 15-yard gain. “That was the key play, the first pass to ‘Tana,” said wide receiver Josh Morgan. “That’s the one that got it all started, that gave us some breathing room.”
Next: a pass to a wide-open Fred Davis over the middle, the tight end extending the play with a bruising run for a total of 20 yards. The Redskins were into Tampa Bay territory, with the clock approaching the one-minute mark.