It took Robert Griffin III nearly 19 minutes to throw his first incomplete pass. Prior to that, the Washington Redskins rookie was 8-for-8 with 149 passing yards, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon.
When the first incompletion finally came, Griffin calmly brushed it aside and proceeded to string together two more complete passes, the latter of which was a 5-yard touchdown to Aldrick Robinson.
Washington took a 20-14 lead over the New Orleans Saints into the locker room at halftime.
From all appearances, the Redskins and Mike Shanahan have their man.
Griffin’s first half stat-line read like a quarterback in Madden playing on easy — 11-for-13, 182 yards, two touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating.
Meanwhile, Jim Haslett’s defense kept Drew Brees and the Saints on their heels for the bulk of the first half.
Washington forced three three-and-out drives against an offense that had the fewest in football last season.
It wasn’t just Robert Griffin III ushering in a new era for the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Shanahan, in his third season as head coach, is showing the future is now as rookie Alfred Morris started ahead of second-year players Roy Helu and Evan Royster at running back.
In addition, veteran quarterback Rex Grossman was deactivated for the season opener, leaving fifth-round draft pick Kirk Cousins as Griffin’s backup.
The coach’s confidence in his young players appeared well placed. Griffin led the team on a 12-play, 49-yard opening drive that was capped by a 37-yard Billy Cundiff field goal that just snuck inside the right upright.
The only flaw on Griffin’s opening chapter was a botched exchange with Morris. However, he was able to scoop up the loose ball, evade two Saints defenders and turn what would have been a loss of 15 yards into just a five-yard snafu.
Overall, the Heisman Trophy winner was 6-for-6 with 35 yards passing. He also added a pair of rushes for 12 yards.
After the Saints were held to a three-and-out on their opening drive, Drew Brees took New Orleans on a seven-play, 80-yard drive the culminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham who used a size advantage to beat Washington’s double coverage.
The touchdown unleashed the competitor in Griffin.
The Baylor product took a shot, but connected with Garçon for an 88-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the subsequent drive. The Saints held the lead for all of 21 seconds.
Griffin’s first career touchdown was the longest pass play by the Redskins since Ed Rubbert’s connected with Anthony Allen on Oct. 4, 1987 on another 88-yard scoring strike.
The Saints struggled to keep up with Washington’s suddenly high-powered offense. When Brees and Co. did threaten, the defense stepped up.
Cedric Griffin saved a would-be Saints touchdown by stripping Marques Colston at the goal line. The ball rolled through the end zone, resulting in a turnover.
Undeterred, New Orleans’ defense forced Washington’s first punt of the afternoon with less than one minute remaining in the half. Sav Rocca’s effort was blocked by Martez Wilson who ran uncontested into the backfield. Courtney Roby recovered it and rumbled into the end zone to cut Washington’s lead and stop the bleeding just before the close of the half.
The big second half question for Washington will be Garçon’s status. The wide receiver left the game with a foot injury and is questionable to return.