How dazzling was Robert Griffin in his debut for the Redskins that was still the talk of Washington a day later?
How about a 139.9 passer rating, the highest ever for an NFL quarterback straight out of college? How about two touchdowns and no turnovers from a position that produced just 16 touchdowns with 30 turnovers for Washington in 2011?
How about the 22-year-old rookie watching his first career touchdown pass, an 88-yarder, conclude while sitting on the Superdome turf where he had been rudely deposited by a New Orleans defender? How about the reigning Heisman Trophy winner barely making a mistake in a 40-32 victory in the raucous Superdome against a New Orleans defense that was as fired up as its fans to stick it to the NFL for the league's BountyGate penalties?
How about radio hosts wondering whether Griffin had suddenly put the Redskins in the mix in the NFC East in which they finished last the past four years and are favored to do so again this season?
That might be a stretch, but it sure seems that coach Mike Shanahan was smart to send three first-round draft picks and a second-rounder to St. Louis in March for the right to draft Griffin second overall six weeks later. A franchise that had started 21 quarterbacks over the previous 19 seasons with only Brad Johnson (in 1999) going to the Pro Bowl might have finally found its long-awaited star and much-needed keeper at the game's most important position.
Only Baltimore (which has dominated with defense), Chicago, Detroit (Matthew Stafford somehow wasn't chosen in 2011 despite becoming just the second 5,000-yard passer ever) and Miami have gone longer without sending a passer to Hawaii.
Shanahan, who coached Hall of Famers Steve Young and John Elway but struck out during his first two years in Washington with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, started Griffin slow with six straight screen passes. But then came the long strike to Pierre Garcon and Griffin and the Redskins were off and gunning. He became the first rookie quarterback to finish his first half with a perfect 158.3 rating and wound up with 320 yards, the second-most ever for a neophyte passer in his welcome to the NFL.
"The poise that he played with and some of the throws that he made (were great)," Shanahan said. "Just to execute the offense in this environment (was impressive)."
Griffin was only sacked once -- when he tripped and fell and was touched down by New Orleans' Patrick Robinson -- while completing 19 (of 26) passes to eight different receivers. With Garcon gone after the touchdown following four early catches with a supposedly short-term foot injury, Griffin didn't target anyone more than four times.
"It's at the top," Griffin said when asked where his performance in his parents' hometown ranked among his accomplishments that includes a trip to the 2008 Olympic Trials as a hurdler. "You can win a high school state championship or get there a couple of times. You can win a bowl game in college. But to get to the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game playing against a Hall of Famer in (Saints quarterback and fellow Texan) Drew Brees. At the end of the game he told me he was proud of me. This is definitely number one on my list."
And if Griffin keeps playing the way he did in New Orleans, he's going to be shooting up the list of outstanding Redskins quarterbacks that includes Hall of Famers Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen, MVP Joe Theismann, Super Bowl MVPs Doug Williams and Mark Rypien and NFC Championship Game hero Billy Kilmer.
Rypien, the youngest of those passers, played his last snap for Washington on New Year's Eve 1993. That's going on 19 years ago. Maybe the long-awaited hunt for his replacement has finally ended with a 22-year-old from Copperas Cove, Texas
--Redskins long-snapper Nick Sundberg broke his left arm when the Saints overran him in blocking Sav Rocca's punt with 40 seconds to go in the first half. Amazingly, Sundberg refused to leave the game, snapping for five more punts and four more kicks in the second half of Washington's 40-32 victory upset in the Superdome.
"I broke the same bone in college so I knew right away," the Cal graduate said. "I told (special teams coach Danny Smith) a long time ago that I'm not coming out of the game, I don't care what happens (to me). I wanted to stay true to my word."
-- While most of his fellow 2011 Redskins draft picks spent their rookie seasons starting or at least contributing, receiver Aldrick Robinson lingered on the practice squad for 16 weeks. The sixth-round selection was finally promoted for the finale but didn't play.
With the Redskins having signed free agents Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan this winter, Robinson was a long shot to make the team. However, he won a job after catching eight passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in preseason. And when Pierre Garcon went down with a foot injury on Sunday in New Orleans, Robinson stepped in and caught four balls for 52 yards and a touchdown while also drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone that set up another Washington touchdown.
"It felt real good," Robinson said with the ball he caught for the touchdown tucked away in his travel bag. "Hard work pays off. I kept grinding and now I'm here. (On the 5-yard scoring slant) I seen the coverage that was going to get me the ball. My quickness got me open. I just had to catch the ball."
-- Kory Lichtensteiger missed the final 11 games of 2011 with a torn right ACL. After the first two non-contact practices this July, the left guard had the knee scoped, costing him the entire preseason. So starting in the victory at the Saints was a special moment for the 27-year-old Bowling Green product.
"I'm here," said the smiling Lichtensteiger, who wears a brace to protect the knee. "I'm a little sore, but I'm good. That's a good way to come back."
-- S Jordan Bernstine is out for the year after tearing his right ACL, MCL and PCL on a kickoff at New Orleans. With expected starting SS Brandon Meriweather out at least one more week with a left knee injury, the Redskins signed S Jordan Pugh on Monday.
-- WR Pierre Garcon will try to play this week with the foot injury that forced him from the New Orleans game during the first half. Aldrick Robinson took most of Garcon's snaps in New Orleans and played well.