In sports there are times when what is expected happens, and there are other times when the team that is supposed to be blown out puts up a fight. The Redskins could have pulled this game out, but lost it in a key moment. The Redskins beleaguered defense was able to do something quite impressive. They were able to shutout Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons until the very end of the first half. It is in that moment though that they lost the game. The second Billy Cundiff’s 31 yard field goal try sailed wide right Atlanta knew they could win.
Having been given great field position and the momentum of the unlikely stop Matt Ryan lead the Falcons down the field and tied the game heading into half-time. Had the kick been good the Redskins would have maintained momentum and even if the Falcons had driven down the field and scored the Redskins would have had the half-time lead. Instead the Falcons went into the locker room with the feeling that they were in just another football game instead of fear at being upset. That missed kick was the moment of the game.
The moment that will get more attention though is the Sean Weatherspoon hit that gave Robert Griffin III a concussion and knocked him from the game. It was a late hit by Weatherspoon and it would be surprising if he isn’t fined for it. Griffin was already into his slide and had been tagged down by another Falcons player when Weatherspoon dove shoulder first at Griffin’s head. Whether or not there was intent is irrelevant as Griffin was knocked from the game and while Kirk Cousins did throw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Santana Moss, but he also ended the two final Redskins drives with picks.
That hit on Griffin will escalate the debate on if he should run or not. That is not an easy answer as part of the reason he was drafted and one of the qualities that makes him a dynamic player is his ability to run, but he is such a good pocket passer that he doesn’t need to run to be effective. Injuries are going to happen in the NFL. A quarterback can stand in the pocket their entire career and one day they are going to get hit and get injured. Robert Griffin III is a better player when he is a threat to run. Take that weapon away from him and the Redskins are not going to get the true value of the player.
Other notable Redskins in this game were Ryan Kerrigan who had an interception he returned for a touchdown, and Alfred Morris who continues to look like an amazing late round find from this past draft. The Redskins have a number of quality pieces on their roster now which is much more than could be said about them two seasons ago. The development of this franchise is starting to be seen even if it isn’t yet showing up in the record. The makings of a good team are there, and the types of pieces the Redskins need are the types that can be found in free agency. It is hard to watch a season that is more about development than winning, but the Redskins did just play a tight game with the best team in the NFC, and could have won if they had a kicker or their QB didn’t get hurt.