Impressive early as he directed Washington to an 18-point, first-half lead, Griffin was even better in the closing moments of the fourth quarter after Tampa Bay took a one-point lead on a field goal. Griffin took command of the huddle when the Redskins began at their 20-yard line with 1 minute 42 seconds remaining to play. On the first four plays of the game-winning drive, he completed three passes to three receivers for 39 yards and scrambled for another 15-yard gain.
Place kicker Billy Cundiff — who missed his first three field goal attempts — connected on a 41-yarder with three seconds to play. Although Cundiff’s kick provided the difference for the Redskins, who evened their record at 2-2 after consecutive losses, Griffin’s strong performance made the upbeat closing possible.
Griffin’s sound decision-making and accuracy (he completed 74 percent of his passes) got the Redskins started. Coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle, Washington’s play-caller, were determined to do a better job of limited Griffin’s exposure to unnecessary hits while also achieving the creativity on offense they want. On Sunday, they succeeded.
With Tampa Bay’s defense struggling to contain Griffin’s passing (323 yards, 102.4 passer rating), rookie running back Alfred Morris benefited from the problems Griffin presents to opposing defenses by having his first 100-yard rushing game. Morris’s big game also helped Griffin, who was pounded on designed running plays against Cincinnati a week ago, but ran only occasionally by design against Tampa Bay.
The Redskins’ beleaguered secondary showed improvement at times in the first half. The defensive backfield, however, collapsed again as the Redskins almost squandered their big lead.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett hasn’t found the right combination of cornerbacks and safeties. It’s beginning to look like the group is as good as it will be, which isn’t close to being good enough.
Griffin, though, is very good. And on Sunday, the Shanahans’ coaching helped to make him even a little better. Let’s examine what they did:
Redskins fans expressed alarm after watching Griffin get whacked like a piñata during the 38-31 loss to the Bengals in Week 3. The Bengals’ defensive ends, in particular, punished Griffin throughout the game.
After the Shanahans made some halftime adjustments in personnel and play-calling, the Bengals were less aggressive in attacking Griffin in the second half of that game. The Shanahans made even more significant changes against Tampa Bay.