Looking back, Week 9 may go down as the turning point in the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year race.
Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was the unquestioned leader of the pack heading into this week's game with the Carolina Panthers, but after an unfortunately mediocre performance from RGIII, the race has opened up.
It's not that the former Baylor Bear was terrible; RGIII threw for 215 yards and ran for 53 more. He and fellow rookie Alfred Morris even set an NFL record together:
Stat 2 Know: Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III are 1st set of rookie QB-RB 'mates to each rush for 500 yds in NFL history (h/t elias)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo)
The problem is that as RGIII's pace has slowed to a crawl in recent weeks, No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck has been settling into an incredible rhythm.
Luck set a rookie record this week by throwing for 433 yards against the Miami Dolphins. He has now thrown just one interception in the last three weeks and has led the Indianapolis Colts to a surprising 5-3 record.
Luck is gaining momentum and even pulling away in this race because of what he is doing on a team with far less talent than the Redskins possess. Yes, RGIII has the added rushing dimension to his game that has accounted for 476 yards and six scores this season, but wins do matter.
RGIII's Washington team sits at just 3-6. He has not yet shown the fourth-quarter prowess of Luck and has five losses of eight points or less, compared to just two wins of the same variety.
As for Luck's aforementioned fourth quarter prowess, check out this statistic:
Andrew Luck now has 4 game-winning drives in 4th qtr/OT.. the other rookie starting QBs (Tannehill, Wilson, RG3, Weeden) have 4 total— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 4, 2012
Griffin is obviously still firmly in the Rookie of the Year race and has plenty of time to stake his claim to the honor, but he is losing traction right now.
After next week's bye, Griffin will have three straight games against divisional opponents—a perfect chance to turn around the Redskins' season and catapult himself back to the top of the Rookie of the Year discussion.