Seahawks vs. Redskins: In Sticking with RG3, Mike Shanahan Made the Right Call

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

Would the Washington Redskins have won their first home playoff game in 13 years with a healthy Kirk Cousins at quarterback, rather than a severely hobbled Robert Griffin III? 

We'll never know for sure, but based on the performance the Seattle Seahawks defense delivered at FedEx Field, it's probably safe to assume that this wasn't a game the Redskins would have won regardless of which rookie quarterback was taking the snaps in the first, second and third quarters. 

Heroes with 20/20 hindsight are now coming down hard on Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan for keeping his No. 2 overall pick in the game until his damaged knee finally forced the issue, but Griffin's injury really put Shanahan and his staff in a lose-lose situation. 

I can't criticize Shanahan for leaving RG3 in for as long as possible, because the reality is that a large chunk of those bandwagon critics would have been just as outraged had Griffin sat the entire second half in a game with the same outcome. 

RG3 threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter. His right knee did appear to become more of an impediment as the hits kept coming and the game wore on, but Shanahan stuck with his franchise player because he likely felt that was the only hope this team had. And he was probably right.

Did that put Griffin in danger? Yes, but that's an accepted risk in the NFL. It was now or never for this team, facing the NFL's No. 1 defense with no momentum for the final three quarters. 

This was not the time to stop and think about 2013. Anyone who says the 'Skins lacked long-term vision by putting RG3 at risk doesn't understand how this league works. You only get a limited number of chances to win in January in the NFL, so when you have an opportunity, you leave it all on the field. Griffin knows that, and I'll bet that's why he'll say he wanted to be out there. 

How would Shanahan have looked had they still lost with Cousins relieving Griffin and with RG3 admitting that he wanted to be on the field? Like I said, lose-lose for Shanahan. 

Griffin might have aggravated that injury on Sunday, but that sometimes goes with the territory when you're a mobile quarterback. And now, he has eight months to focus on getting back to 100 percent. 

The Redskins lost because they were the the inferior team Sunday. Griffin was injured further because they went all in. For that, Shanahan and Griffin deserve kudos. This team defied expectations for 17 regular-season weeks, and when they could no longer find magic, at least they defined heart, throwing punches until the final bell.