“He’s a tremendous football player,” Wilson said. “I just prayed he was all right.”
Just how bad the injury is won’t be known until Griffin gets an MRI on Monday. He said after the 24-14 loss that he wasn’t sure himself whether he had further injured it.
But the dreadlocked rookie star made it clear that standing on the sideline watching the game wasn’t an option. He carried the Redskins into the playoffs, and they weren’t going to play without him.
“I had to go out there and do what I could to help the team win,” he said. “Period.”
It was a disconcerting end to a spectacular season for Griffin, whose personality and promise got him sandwich shop commercials even before he started winning games for the Redskins. He and Luck started the year as the most talked about pair of quarterbacks coming into the NFL in years, and both lived up to their billing by carrying their teams into the playoffs.
Luck, though, couldn’t overcome a Baltimore defense fired up by the pending retirement of Ray Lewis. Luck was pressured all day, and his receivers dropping six passes didn’t help as Indianapolis was eliminated 24-9 by the Ravens.
And while Griffin looked as though he would pile up some points for the Redskins by opening the game with two touchdown drives, he felt the knee go while planting to pass on the second drive and was never the same. By halftime, his team was barely clinging to the lead, and he faced a talk with Shanahan about his immediate future.
On that, both agreed. He had gotten them this far, and deserved the chance to take them even further.
“He said, `Trust me, I want to be in there. I deserve to be in there,’” Shanahan said. “I couldn’t disagree with him.”
Almost lost in the debate over whether Griffin should have stayed in was that Wilson still had some work to do to bring the Seahawks back. He did it on a fourth-quarter drive that Lynch capped off a 27-yard, broken-field run – with Wilson barreling ahead of him to block at the goal line.
That’s hardly surprising because the quarterback that even Seattle didn’t really seem to want when training camp opened – the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to a lucrative offseason deal to be their No. 1 – always seems to flourish when it matters most. Wilson doesn’t play with the proverbial chip on his shoulder because he felt slighted in the NFL draft, but the whole team plays that way because Seattle wasn’t even in the postseason discussion when the year began.
“I don’t know,” Wilson said when asked if he had felt left out of the rookie quarterback discussion. “The goal is to win a lot of games and help my football team win games. That’s all I know.”
Something else Wilson should know is he’s two wins away from being the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks will have to do it on the road, but they’re peaking at just the right time and are just slight underdogs in Atlanta next Sunday.
Who knows, soon there may be a lot of people ending their sentences with a “Go `Hawks!” the way Wilson likes to end his. If it sounds a bit collegiate, just remember he is still a rookie quarterback.
Only now there’s something different. He’s the only one left.
(Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on twitter @timdahlberg.)