WNY and revamped Bills defense get first look at Redskins rookie RG3
But it was smooth-sailing thereafter for the Baylor product, known as “RG3,” during Thursday evening’s preseason opener with the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Griffin finished 4-for-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown, helping the Redskins to a 7-6 victory.
Griffin – the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and reigning Heisman Trophy winner – was particularly sharp during his third and final drive. After failing to connect on a dip-and-dunk sidearm attempt on first down, he guided the Redskins along a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive. In the process, he also appears to have found a favorite target; Garçon – an offseason free-agent signee, formerly with the Indianapolis Colts – caught three straight Griffin completions for 58 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown on third and 3, with 5 minutes and 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“It felt extremely good to come out [and play],” Griffin said. “Coach [Mike Shanahan] did a good job calling plays, got me in a rhythm and helped get the offense in a rhythm on that third drive.”
“It’s very good to watch him,” Garçon said of Griffin. “I can help him out as much as I can because I’ve been around a great quarterback [Peyton Manning] and have been in this league for a little bit.”
The Bills’ revamped defense, led by the offseason signings of defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, did little to rattle the rookie quarterback, though neither team dug too deep into its respective playbook. In fact, Griffin, who’s known for his ability as a runner, did not log a statistic on the ground.
“One thing we were looking for is for him to showcase his running ability and his arm,” Williams said of Griffin. “But they kept it pretty basic, too.”
“I wanted to run the keeper,” Griffin said. “It would have been fun, but the one thing I know I had to do is play smart.”
Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played the first quarter, finished 6-for-14 for 61 yards. Tyler Thigpen, currently battling with Vince Young for the role of Fitzpatrick’s backup, connected on 3 of his 8 passes for 38 yards with an interception. Young played most of the second half, finishing 5-for-12 for 50 yards. He also ran the ball five times for a team-best 37 yards, including a 21-yard gain on a third-and-20 situation.
RG3 notwithstanding, the game certainly had a kick-the-rust-off feel to it – a point that Bills head coach Chan Gailey summed up in less than 10 words.
“It looked ugly; it felt ugly; it was ugly” Gailey admitted afterward.
Freelance sportswriter Charles Roberts covers the NFL and University at Buffalo football program for MetroWNY.com. Reach him at CharlesHRoberts@yahoo.com or twitter.com/cHartleyRoberts.