Robert Griffin III and Redskins Prove They Are Playoff Contenders with Big Win

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 09:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins scrambles with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the second half during a game at FedExField on December 9, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III proved he could work his magic against the Baltimore Ravens, one of the best teams in the league. Then his team proved it could go out and win a game even with its star rookie watching on the sideline.

Put it together and you have the look of a team that is going to make noise in the NFC over the last three weeks of the season.

RG3 had another excellent afternoon, finishing 15-of-26 for 246 yards and a touchdown. He also added seven rushes for 24 yards, and he kept Washington in position to win the game late against the Ravens.

But he twisted his knee late and couldn't continue despite a brave attempt to return to the game. That left the game in the hands of backup Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense, trailing 28-20 with the game on the line.

All Cousins did was lead the Redskins to a touchdown, a two-point conversion and send the game to overtime.

After that, the defense and special teams took over. After holding the Baltimore offense to a three-and-out to start overtime, Richard Crawford returned a punt 64 yards, setting up the Redskins for the game-winning field goal.

And with that, the Redskins kept themselves relevant in the NFC.

At the time of publication, the New York Giants were leading the New Orleans Saints 21-13 at the half. With a loss, the Giants would be 7-6 and create a three-way tie atop the NFC East, one the Redskins would sit atop having the best record in the division.

But the Redskins are alive in the wild-card hunt as well. The Chicago Bears lost on Sunday, falling to 8-5, and at the time of publication, it looked as though the Seattle Seahawks were going to win to move up to 8-5 as well (they lead the Arizona Cardinals 38-0 at the half), putting the Redskins a game out of the wild-card chase.

Who saw that coming before the season began?

And the Redskins have a favorable schedule down the stretch, facing the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Win all three, and this Washington team could very well find its way into the playoffs.

If the Redskins win out, they'll head into the playoffs on the heels of a seven-game winning streak. Unbelievable.

For most of the season, the Redskins success has derived from the huge efforts of Griffin. If his knee injury is serious, I have a hard time seeing Washington make the playoffs. But if he's healthy, look out.

And even if he misses a game or two, the Redskins aren't totally dead. Cousins proved he could make clutch plays when called upon, and the rest of the offense stepped up its game. Plus, the defense forced two turnovers and the special teams won the game in overtime.

This is no longer just Robert Griffin III and his Merry Band of Redskins. The entirety of this Washington team proved its capable of making a playoff run.

Watch out for this team. We knew RG3 would usher in a new era of Redskins football, sure; I just don't think anyone expected it to begin this soon.


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