RG3 leads Redskins to 27-20 win over Eagles
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
The Associated Press
Published Sunday, December 23, 2012 4:11PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:07PM EST
PHILADELPHIA -- Robert Griffin III used his arm to lift the Washington Redskins within a victory of the playoffs.
Known as much for his running as passing, Griffin threw a pair of touchdown passes in his first game back from a knee injury. Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career, and the Redskins held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 on Sunday for their sixth straight win.
Counted out by their own coach six weeks ago, the Redskins (9-6) are on the brink of their first division title in 13 years. Washington can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home next Sunday.
The game has been flexed to prime-time by the NFL.
The Redskins haven't won it since 1999 and last reached the playoffs in 2007. They could still back into the post-season with a loss.
"We're already onto the next one," Griffin said. "You don't celebrate wins at this point of the season."
Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Redskins 5 before his intentional grounding penalty ended the game.
Trying to play spoiler, the Eagles (4-11) fell short in what could've been Andy Reid's last game coaching the team at home. Reid is unlikely to return to Philadelphia for his 15th season next year. The Eagles, who are missing the playoffs for the second straight year after coming in with huge expectations, finish at the New York Giants.
"I have nothing to tell you on that," Reid said. "I'm the coach right now."
A sprained right knee forced Griffin to miss last week's win at Cleveland. The rookie had a season-low 4 yards rushing but made several big throws to lead Washington.
"Anytime you wear a brace, it's going to restrict your motion," Griffin said. "It didn't slow me down by any means. I felt like myself out there. That's why they call me quarterback. It's not abbreviated with running quarterback. I have to throw the ball and assist guys by handing off."
Griffin was 16 of 24 for 198 yards. He did throw the first interception made by the Eagles in nine games. They hadn't picked off one since Week 6 against Detroit before Colt Anderson intercepted Griffin's tipped pass in the fourth quarter.
That set up a 17-yard TD run by Dion Lewis that cut Washington's lead to 27-20 midway through the fourth.
The Eagles held on defence, forced a punt and started their last drive at their 15. They were at the Washington 17 when Foles bounced a pass to Jeremy Maclin, who was open in the right corner of the end zone on third down. Foles then hit LeSean McCoy for a 12-yard gain on fourth-and-2 to the 5 with 11 seconds left. After an incompletion where Evan Moore dropped a pass near the goal line, Foles was called for grounding, and the last second was automatically run off the clock.
"In that situation, the clock is the most important thing," Foles said. "I didn't feel like anyone was open and was just trying to make a play. I just have to make sure the ball gets to line of scrimmage. That's on me."
While the Redskins celebrated, the Eagles ran off the field to a chorus of boos.
There was talk in Philadelphia leading up to the game whether fans would give Reid a cheerful send-off. The crowd didn't acknowledge him when he took the field before the pre-game introductions, but some chanted "Andy! Andy!" in support when he left.
"We have great fans," said Reid, who gave a slight wave as he walked into the tunnel. "I understand the situation. I appreciate everything."
Griffin was injured late in the fourth quarter of an overtime win against Baltimore two weeks ago. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins stepped in and led the Redskins to the tying and winning scores in that game and then a victory at Cleveland.
But having RG3 back, even if he was limited, was a boost for the Redskins.
"He's a guy we count on to lead us," receiver Santana Moss said. "He's a born leader and he came in here with that mentality. We are very fortunate to have him."
The Redskins and Eagles were both 3-6 when they met last month. Before that game, Washington coach Mike Shanahan suggested the playoffs were out of reach and it was time to play out the string.
It may have motivated his players. The Redskins haven't lost since, beating the Cowboys, Giants and Ravens in the process.
"They know what it means," Shanahan said. "They've been working toward this opportunity to win the division. Any time you win the division, everybody knows you have a home game in the playoffs. We talked about that from Day 1. They knew what we had to do to get there. We haven't accomplished anything yet."
The Redskins went up 20-10 on the opening drive of the third quarter. Griffin threw a 29-yard pass to Pierre Garcon to get it started and Alfred Morris ran in from the 10 for his 10th TD.
Griffin's perfectly thrown 22-yard TD pass to Moss in the left corner of the end zone put the Redskins ahead 27-13 late in the third.
McCoy was back in the lineup after missing the last four games with a concussion. He had 45 yards rushing. Michael Vick was inactive, though he was cleared to play after missing five games with a concussion.
Forbath hit field goals of 45 and 42 yards in the second quarter. The second was his 17th straight, breaking Garrett Hartley's record for consecutive field goals made to start a career.
Notes: Shanahan has 174 wins, including post-season. He tied Mike Holmgren for 11th all-time in NFL history. ... Morris ran for 96 yards. ... Redskins had a season-high five sacks. ... Only two other times Griffin had less than 10 yards rushing were in losses to Atlanta and Pittsburgh. ... Eagles have committed 36 turnovers while forcing only 13. .... Foles finished 32 of 48 for 345 yards, one TD and one interception.