Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

Cousins Can Handle Job If RGIII Can't Go

The 'Skins remain just one game out of the playoff race

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 09: Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins reacts during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField on December 9, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    The Redskins continued to defy logic and common sense by defeating the Ravens in dramatic fashion Sunday, an overtime thriller that ended on a Kai Forbath field goal.

    But the celebration was muted, at least by "Are we really in the playoff race in December?" standards, because the 'Skins' fourth consecutive win came at a potentially huge price: Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a knee injury that could have been catastrophic. Luckily, it was diagnosed as a knee sprain later Sunday night.

    With less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter and the 'Skins trailing 28-20, RGIII dropped back to pass, didn't see anyone open, and took off running -- as he's done so many times this season (and a situation that usually causes heart palpitations for 'Skins' fans).

    Nothing out of the ordinary until Griffin was tripped up and Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (all 340 pounds of him) was there to clean up the mess. The force of Ngata's hit whipped Griffin's right leg with such force that it left the quarterback grimacing on the turf. He limped off the field, returned several plays later, but the pain was too much and he was replaced for by rookie backup Kirk Cousins. (Remember when there was talk of a quarterback controversy back in the preseason? That was cute.)

    Cousins promptly threw a touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon, and calmly converted an RGIII-esque quarterback sneak for the game-tying two-point conversion.

    Washington went on to win in overtime, 31-28, but the big story after the game was the health of their franchise quarterback.

    "It's sore right now, but he wanted to go back into the game, which is a good sign," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told the media. "It's a positive."

    "I knew as soon as I got hit, as I screamed, like a man, of course. It hurt real bad," Griffin said before adding: "I'm going to be all right. Nothing's broken."

    And 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen tweeted this shortly after the game that Griffin didn't think he tore his ACL. “I know what an ACL feels like,” Griffin said, who suffered the injury in college. “[Doctors] told me it felt like my ligaments all feel good. I'm not too nervous.”

    Turns out, Griffin's also a medical professional; according to PFT.com, an MRI on Sunday night showed that RGIII didn't have a torn ACL and the injury is being characterized as a sprained knee.

    The other big story, of course, is that the Redskins are now 7-6, winners of four in a row, and this close to the playoffs. The Giants maintained their one-game lead by defeating the Saints, and the Seahawks remained the No. 6 seed with their blowout win over the Cardinals. But there's plenty of football remaining, and the hope is that Washington will have Griffin for the Browns next week (and the Eagles and Cowboys after that.)

    So while the 'Skins avoided the worst-case-scenario with RGIII's injury, he's still not out of the clear. PFT reports that "Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Griffin will get treatment and will be evaluated in the coming days.  His status for next Sunday’s game against the orange-hot Browns is up in the air."

    But even if RGIII has to sit, Cousins has shown in limited duty that he can handle the job. (Remember when he made fun of Shanahan for taking two rookie quarterbacks when the team had so many other needs? Yeah, we don't know what we're talking about.) We first wrote about it back in October after Griffin suffered a concussion against the Falcons, but history suggests that if Cousins gets the call he'll be fine. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that.