There were four games played on Wild Card weekend, but by far the dominant storyline that came out of the first week of the 2013 NFL playoffs was the knee injury suffered by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The rookie sensation is set for a Monday MRI, and as both fans of the Washington Redskins and the NFL in general wait with baited breath for the results of that test there are no shortage of opinions regarding what happened Sunday afternoon and who's to blame.
This is America, after all, so it has to be somebody's fault.
Here's a look around the internet at what some of the nation's top sportswriters have to say on the subject.
We might as well kick things off from the Twilight Zone.
Granted, it may be a stretch to call ESPN's Skip Bayless one of the "nation's top sportswriters." While Bayless was once a respected scribe for The Dallas Morning News, he's become much better known for picking fights with outlandish comments and opinions on ESPN's "First Take."
Still, Bayless may have outdone himself this time in the lunacy department, as he's apparently decided that Griffin's injury is the fault of Dr. James Andrews, who was featured in a USA Today article about Griffin's December knee injury that was published before the game on Sunday.
Hope Dr. Andrews is pleased w/ self, publicly going after Shanahan, creating doubt in RG3's mind by saying still nervous about RG3's knee.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 7, 2013
For Andrews' next trick he will make Peyton Manning's head explode when he mentions in passing that Manning's forehead is a touch on the large side.
OK, now let's shoot for some opinions from Earth.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated is one of the most respected football writers in America, and his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column is read by millions every week.
Not surprisingly, Griffin was the first topic that King brought up this week, and while he shares the prevailing opinion that a clearly hobbled Griffin should have been pulled earlier in the game he doesn't absolve the young signal-caller of blame.
I do not -- do not -- blame Shanahan entirely here. Even if there's a frosty relationship between noted team orthopedist James Andrews and Shanahan, Andrews is on the staff, at least in part, because he's the foremost expert on knees in the country. He should have the power to speak up when he sees something obviously wrong with the franchise quarterback. And Griffin is not blameless here either. He's an adult. If he swears over and over he's fine, the coach has to listen to that and take that into account. "I wasn't lying,'' said Griffin. "I was able to go out and play, period."
The thing is, Andrews obviously did not have that authority and giving a 22 year-old player's opinion equal weight as his 60 year-old coach is just sticking to the middle of the road so as not to ruffle any feathers.
In other words, it's vintage Peter King.
Not all sportswriters were so moderate in their stance regarding who was at fault for Griffin being allowed to stay in Sunday's game despite clearly being hampered by his knee.
In fact, many placed the blame for what happened squarely at the feet of head coach Mike Shanahan. This includes Sam Gardner, a general assignment columnist for FOX Sports who wrote a scathing article that was published not long after the game ended.
After the game, Griffin speculated that, had Shanahan pulled him, he would have run back out onto the field and continued to play anyway, and his equally blind teammates seemed to agree that the decision should have been left up to the player.
But it’s not up to the player. It can’t be. That’s why the dangers of concussions are such a hot-button issue today, and other injures should be treated with equal care. Leaving Griffin on the field, with a tattered knee and a precedent for knee injuries, was reprehensible, and if the news turns out to be as bad as it looked, Shanahan should be held accountable for what he did to Griffin’s future.
Gardner is spot-on. It's a player's job to play, and a coach's job to coach.
Shanahan should have been thinking about the big picture and the future of both his team and its star quarterback, but in his zeal to win one playoff game he recklessly endangered both.
The consensus among sportswriters (as well as fans) on Monday seemed to place the blame for what happened on Monday squarely on Mike Shanahan's shoulders, and that criticism came from sources both national and local.
Thomas Boswell, a columnist for The Washington Post, penned an excellent piece on Monday that pointed out that while the situation that occurred on Sunday happens on fields all across the NFL every week this was a situation where Shanahan needed to step up and take the reins but chose not to.
Only one person usually says, “Enough” to a star quarterback who wants to continue: the coach. And in close playoff games, they seldom do.
But rarely is that quarterback 22 years old, the face of the franchise and relentlessly driven to prove his courage. If ever a veteran coach needed to accept responsibility for the reins of a player, it was Shanahan over Griffin in this game. Yet he simply passed the buck to his player. Griffin said he could play, was in pain but wasn’t injured and had earned the right to be the quarterback — all the sideline buzzwords to keep yourself in the game. And Shanahan listened and bought it. Soon, we’ll find out the price.
Boswell hit the nail on the head. You can use all the cliches you want about the "heat of battle," but Griffin wasn't just hampered by the knee...he was clearly ineffective. There was no reason to leave him in the game.
Except possibly because he was afraid of getting criticized for pulling him, from either his players or the media.
Shanahan makes a great deal of money to make the tough decisions, and he failed miserably in that regard with Griffin.
Finally, we'll wrap up this little tour of Monday's reactions to Robert Griffin's injury by looking at it from the perspective of the Redskins' opponents.
“If you noticed it earlier, when we rushing the passer, everyone was worried about him getting out and containing him,” Carroll said. “After we saw what he was doing and how he was moving, I tried to encourage the guys to not be worried about [him] breaking containment and running like crazy. It was more like a normal quarterback back there, and [that] we keep our pressure and our rushes and not be so concerned about him, trying to keep him in the pocket.”
OK, so Pete Carroll could see it. The broadcasters calling the game could see it. Casual fans watching the game could see it. The vast majority of sportswriters could see it.
Apparently the only people who couldn't see it were Mike Shanahan and Skip Bayless.