NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported via Twitter that Griffin was inactive on Sunday while USA Today’s Simon Samano noted that the quarterback practiced all week leading up to the game, and his absence in this game was not expected.
We knew he wouldn't start ... I'm told Robert Griffin III won't dress either in Cleveland. Skins taking no risk if further injury.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 16, 2012
Mike Shanahan’s decision to take precautionary measures with Griffin’s knee injury and start Kirk Cousins was the right move when considering his franchise quarterback’s long-term health, but it was also a risky choice in regards to Washington’s postseason aspirations.
At 7-6 entering the game, another loss would have made it difficult for the Redskins to extend their season, but Cousins came through and led the team to victory. The rookie backup completed 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Now, the Redskins and the New York Giants are both 8-6, but Washington has a better division record and therefore is the current NFC East leader. If the team is able to beat the Philadelphia Eagles next week and the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the year, it will capture its first NFC East title since 1999.
Given Griffin’s ability to practice throughout this past week, he stands a decent chance to be healthy enough to play by next Sunday.
He has already torched both Philadelphia's and Dallas’ defenses for four touchdown passes this season, and if he is on the field for either rematch, he will have similar success.
Griffin’s play this season has turned the Redskins around. Heading into this week’s slate of games, he was tied with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with a passer rating of 104.2, which was the highest mark in the NFL.
He has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,902 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions. But his running ability makes him a uniquely difficult player to defend, and he also has 748 yards and six scores on the ground.
While Cousins proved to be a capable backup, the Redskins will need Griffin to finish out the regular-season schedule.
Even with Philadelphia’s struggles this season, the Eagles should not be taken lightly at home. But Griffin’s presence will be absolutely necessary against Dallas, as a playoff spot could be on the line in this game.
Shanahan has wisely given Griffin an extra week to recover, but with the stakes raised in the next two games and the quarterback’s health continuing to improve, he will not be kept on the sidelines much longer. Once he returns to the field, he will be focused and ready to lead the team to the postseason.