In his long-awaited home debut in front of 80,000 hopeful fans, Robert Griffin III passed for 221 yards, ran for 85 more, rallied his team from one 17-point deficit, and almost erased another 14-point hole.
It’s safe to say that Redskins fans don’t miss last year’s RG3: Rex Daniel Grossman III.
If it’s possible to live up to so much hype, Robert Griffin III might be able to do it, and I’m sure that Gatorade, Adidas, and Subway (did I miss anyone?) are thrilled to have RG3 pitching their products.
But you know what? Red Rifle I is pretty special too.
After three games, Andy Dalton has completed 68% of his passes for 867 yards, six touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 105.0 in leading the Bengals to a 2-1 start.
“He’s playing out of his mind right now,” said tight end Jermaine Gresham. “He’s going through his progressions and finding guys. It’s just tremendous how he’s playing right now. His understanding of the offense in his second year is crazy.”
“I thought we did a nice job of taking what they gave us and not forcing the ball into coverage,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “They were going to make it difficult for us to run, so we beat the one-on-one coverage. That’s what we have to do. If they load the box, we’re going to throw it over their heads.”
Dalton has been especially lethal in the fourth quarter, completing 18 of 22 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and 0 INT. That computes to a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.
“I told you man, once you get Andy going he’s probably one of the best at it,’ said receiver A.J. Green.
“He’s being a leader,” said receiver Armon Binns. “He’s distributing the ball and he’s so calm back there that everybody is confident that he’ll make the right decisions.”
Of course, it helps to be surrounded by weapons.
Dalton’s six touchdown passes have gone to five different targets: Andrew Hawkins (2), A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate, and Armon Binns.
“We have a lot of guys that are capable of doing a lot of things,” said Dalton. “That’s what’s nice about this offense – you don’t have to rely on one guy.”
“Guys are seeing other guys get the opportunity to make plays,” said Lewis. “That ought to push you to work harder, practice harder, and learn more until you get your chance. When you’re the weapon in the chamber, you had better perform.”
Perhaps now, the receiving corps will stop being asked “Who is going to take pressure off of A.J. Green?”
“We’ve been telling you all along that we’re pretty deep,” said Binns. “We have so many guys that can make plays and it just makes our offense that much more explosive when we can hit big plays from so many different parts of the field.”
They even have a wide receiver that can throw the ball.
Mohamed Sanu was 8 for 18 with four touchdown passes as a wildcat quarterback at Rutgers, and while he is still waiting to make his first NFL catch, Sanu’s first pass was a perfectly-lofted 73-yard TD to Green on Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage.
“Sanu can throw the ball and he put it right in the breadbasket,” said Green. “All I had to do was run under it. I was praying, ‘Just let me go get it.’ I was by them, so I was hoping he would just get the ball out there so that I could go make a play on the ball. It was a perfect ball.”
It gave the Bengals the lead 17 seconds into a game that they never trailed in, although the Redskins made it nerve-wracking in the second half.
“That’s NFL football for you,” said Gresham. “You have to keep making plays because no game is a blowout.”
“Coach told us at halftime that this is NFL football and they were going to make a run,” said Binns. “We were prepared for it, we weathered the storm, and we were able to score some touchdowns at the end of the game to put it away.”
Not a bad 54th birthday for Marvin Lewis.
“We found out after the game and sang him Happy Birthday,” said Binns. “We were glad that we were able to get a win for him.
And glad to have RR1 at quarterback.
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