Washington Redskins fans saw enough of their future at quarterback in the person of Robert Griffin III that they booed lustily when backup and former starter Rex Grossman entered the game halfway through the third quarter. They didn't want to be reminded of a recent past with far too many false starts at the position. But before Grossman's ignoble entry, Griffin put on a sufficient show to get people legitimately excited about the player the 'Skins gave up a host of draft picks to move up and select.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts fans were able to continue to marvel at the fact that with just one year of drought between them, two elite quarterbacks wore the blue horseshoe. First-overall pick Andrew Luck stayed the course and continued to show unusual grace under pressure. Perhaps inspired by the presence of Griffin. Luck also dialed up more than one laser shot downfield, refuting claims from some analysts that he lacked a sufficient "big arm" to make certain plays.
It was an outstanding referendum for the future of the NFL at quarterback, and the games two new marquee players lived up to their hype -- for the most part. Both Luck and Griffin put up their stats behind iffy offensive lines, and both benefited from start turns from unexpected sources. Redskins running back Alfred Morris, selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, started due to an injury-depleted Washington backfield and put up 107 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Colts rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton, taken in the third round, caught a beautiful touchdown pass from Luck in the second quarter.
Griffin missed on a few deep throws, but looked very good on shorter and intermediate passes, completing 11 of 17 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. His athleticism proved a stressor to the Colts' defense on several occasions, including on the 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Santana Moss in the second quarter. Taking a quick fake-run step off the snap to make the Colts' defense think that an option run was coming, Griffin then pulled the okey-doke with a perfect touch pass. He also rushed once for 5 yards.
Luck was as poised in the pocket as Griffin and was impressively mobile when he had to be. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown, and scrambled out of several broken plays in which his offensive line provided insufficient protection. Griffin didn't take a sack, but was also hurried several times.
It was the first time Griffin has played at his new home stadium, and the hype machine was certainly out. Adidas, whose products Griffin endorses, lit up the names of thousands of passionate football fans on a massive, moving projection of the quarterback displayed across the Newseum's 74-foot-high marble First Amendment tablet, down the street from the White House.
Each young star played one series into the third quarter, and each backup performed well. Grossman responded to the FedEx boos by going 8 for 8 against the Colts' reserve defense for 127 yards and two touchdown passes, while Colts rookie Chandler Harnish -- the man selected last in the 2012 draft -- went 12 of 19 for 147 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions.
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