SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL
Redskins’ Robert Griffin III is king of the rooks in NFL Week 1
‘RGIII’ outshines four other rookie quarterbacks, including Colts’ Andrew Luck, in regular-season debut, passing for 320 yards and two TDs in 40-32 upset of Saints.
|Robert Griffin III threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images / September 9, 2012)|
There was only one miserable failure Sunday for the young quarterback.
He flopped at looking like a rookie.
Playing in the city where both of his parents were raised, Griffin had the ease and aplomb of a seasoned pro in a 40-32 victory at the Superdome, where no visiting team had won since the 2010 season.
On a pick-fest of a day for the other rookie quarterbacks — Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden had four passes intercepted, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill had three each, all in losing efforts — Griffin played turnover-free football. In a late game at Arizona, rookie Russell Wilson had the Seahawks on the doorstep of victory, but Seattle lost, 20-16, on three end-zone incompletions from the four-yard line.
Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall draft pick, made good on all of the hype surrounding him, throwing for more yards than any rookie in a season opener except for Cam Newton, who rolled up 422 yards last year in a Week 1 loss at Arizona.
Griffin completed his first eight passes, including one toPierre Garcon for an 88-yard touchdown, the Redskins’ longest pass play in 35 years. His passer rating was a gaudy 139.9, and he triumphed on a day when the Saints’ Drew Brees threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college,” said Griffin, who also threw a five-yard scoring pass to Aldrick Robinson in the second quarrter. “But to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and to win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it’s at the top.
“After the game, [Brees] told me he was proud of me. That’s big for him to say after he just lost the game.”
With the regular game officials still locked out, replacements worked the games with varying levels of effectiveness.
An official threw — then picked up — a flag at Green Bay when Packers returner Randall Cobb ran back a punt 75 yards for a touchdown. The call appeared to be for a block in the back by the Packers and would have nullified the touchdown. When the flag was picked up, San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh looked as if his head might pop.
In Tennessee, the Titans weren’t happy about three non-calls on what they thought should have been pass interference. Coach Mike Munchak said there will always be calls that aren’t made by officials, whether the regulars or replacements are on the field.
In Houston, referee Don King drew laughter when he called a penalty on “Texas,” but that could happen to anybody.
Hello, Canton. Clear a space for David Akers‘ shoe.
The San Francisco kicker booted a 63-yard field goal at Green Bay, the ball doinking the crossbar and just popping over, to tie the league record shared by Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski.
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