Robert Griffin III came out for his first-ever drive in the National Football League with one of the loudest crowds in the league trying to do whatever it could to throw him off.
The Redskins rookie calmly responded by taking the offense 49 yards in 12 plays — taking 7:29 off the clock — in a drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff, as Washington took an early 3-0 lead against the hometown New Orleans Saints Sunday at the Superdome.
Griffin III’s first drive didn’t feature any big, break-out plays. But it featured several key plays.
His first play in the NFL was a screen pass to his right to wide receiver Pierre Garçon that went for no gain. But on the next play, Griffin III — flushed in the pocket — broke out for a 12-yard run and his first-ever first down.
Griffin III then found Garçon two more times — for 12 and nine yards, respectively — before getting other receivers into the mix. He found Aldrick Robinson for five yards and Brandon Banks for six yards on 3rd and 5 from the Saints’ 25-yard line.
The drive ended with Cundiff’s 37-yarder — his first as a member of the Redskins — as the away team took the early 3-0 lead.
But Drew Brees and the Saints’ potent offense couldn’t be held back for long after going three-and-out on their first drive of the game.
Brees promptly led a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass across the middle to tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught the ball in heavy traffic in the end zone.
That play was immediately following a personal foul call on safety DeJon Gomes, who appeared to get in a little late on a tackle of the Saints’ ball carrier.
Another penalty deflated the Redskins on the ensuing kickoff, which was returned into Saints’ territory by Banks. Rookie linebacker Keenan Robinson was called for holding inside the Redskins’ 25-yard line, putting the ball at their 12-yard-line.
Then came some magic from the Redskins rookie quarterback.
On the first play of their next drive, Griffin III, who had rolled out of trouble in the pocket, found Garçon wide open across the middle. Twenty-one seconds later, Garçon stomped into the end zone for an 88-yard touchdown catch — his first as a Redskins receiver, and Griffin III’s first-ever NFL touchdown throw.
I’m thinking it won’t be his last touchdown throw — or his last to Garçon, for what it’s worth.
Anyway, the Saints stalled on their next drive, thanks to two straight false start penalties and a swarming Redskins defense. They punted back to the Redskins, giving the ball back to Griffin III at Washington’s 43-yard line.
Two straight 2-yard runs by rookie running back Alfred Morris set up a 3rd and 6 from the Redskins’ 47-yard line. With the play clock winding down, Griffin III called timeout with 1:30 left in the quarter. The play drawn up during that timeout was a quarterback keeper by Griffin III to the right side, and a measurement determined the Redskins were literally an inch or two from the first down.
On fourth and inches, Griffin III handed off to fullback Darrel Young, who bounced off one Saints tackler and dove ahead for a 2-yard gain and a first down.
It was an extremely successful first quarter for the Redskins. With the crowd behind the hometown Saints, Washington was able to score on both of its full drives and take a 10-7 lead going into the second quarter.
CHIME IN: What are your thoughts of the first quarter of action today? Feel free to comment below.
Tags: 2012 regular season, new orleans saints, washington redskins
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