LANDOVER, Md. -- Robert Griffin overcame his team's ugly start and a sprained right knee ligament in December to become the highest-rated rookie passer and most prolific running quarterback in NFL history. He led Washington to seven straight victories and its first NFC East title since 1999.
No wonder Griffin has been portrayed as Superman in a nation's capital that waited more than a generation for a franchise player at the league's most important position.
However, in Sunday's wild-card game against visiting Seattle, Griffin re-injured his knee twice, and his ailment helped the hard-charging Seahawks rally from an early two-touchdown deficit and beat the Redskins 24-14.
Griffin was re-injured in the first quarter, but he remained in the game until he was hurt again with 6:19 remaining.
The extent of Griffin's injury won't be clear until he undergoes an MRI, but after lying on the field a few minutes, he walked off without assistance. He later walked into and out of his press conference without a noticeable limp.
"Coming off the field I thought it was just the same thing, but we'll see what it is," Griffin said.
Griffin's exit came in the wake of a USA Today report that famed surgeon James Andrews, who is on retainer with the Redskins, hadn't cleared Griffin to return after the quarterback was initially injured in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin was more seriously injured later in that game, and he missed the following contest at Cleveland. Andrews was on hand Sunday as Griffin hurt the knee when he planted on a first-quarter throw to receiver Pierre Garcon.
"Doctors always worry anytime somebody has an injury, rightfully so," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, adding that Andrews cleared Griffin to continue after Sunday's early knee injury. "They clear a player if they think he's able to play, and we obviously take their recommendation very seriously. ...
"(During the Baltimore game, Andrews) said, 'Robert started showing us he could run.' He felt Robert was OK to go back in. I promise you, if we thought it had something to do with Robert's career and his injury, we would've (taken) him out."
Shanahan's statement was in sharp contrast to Andrews' comments to USA Today, as the orthopedist said he didn't examine the quarterback before Griffin returned to face the Ravens.
Griffin admitted that he was OK with putting himself at risk by continuing to play against Seattle after the initial re-injury less than 12 minutes into the game, two plays before his second touchdown pass gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead. He threw for just 20 yards and ran for 9 yards the rest of the way.
"Mike asked me if I was OK," Griffin said. "I said yes. I'm the quarterback of this team. My job is to be out there if I can play. I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I'm the best option for this team. That's why I'm the starter. The knee didn't affect me trying to throw, (but) it was hard to explode off it while running."
Shanahan admitted that he still weighed whether to replace Griffin with fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, the hero of the victory over the Browns.
"It's a very tough decision," Shanahan said. "You have to go with your gut. I'm not saying my gut is always right, but I've been there before. Everybody could see after the first quarter that he wasn't exactly the same. I'll probably second-guess myself ... should you have (taken him out) earlier? You always do that, especially when you don't win. We weren't the same team (after Griffin's first-quarter re-injury). There's no question about it."
Asked what he would have done if Shanahan had removed him earlier, Griffin said, "I probably would've been right back out there on the field."