New Orleans • Robert Griffin III brought his Heisman Trophy swagger to New Orleans and made his NFL debut look like a Big Easy.
Showing a veteran's composure by scrambling only when necessary, the dynamic Redskins rookie quarterback tormented New Orleans' defense with 320 yards passing and two touchdowns, and Washington held on for 40-32 victory over the Saints on Sunday.
"I've won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, [Brees] told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."
Opening with several short, quick throws, Griffin completed his first eight passes. His seventh pass, released just before he was leveled on by blitzing safety Malcolm Jenkins, hit Pierre Garcon in stride over the middle for an 88-yard touchdown, tying the second-longest scoring pass by a quarterback making his NFL debut. Griffin finished 19-for-26 with no interceptions and a passer rating of 139.9. He also scrambled for 42 yards.
"Robert did an unbelievable job to play the way that he did in his first game in the National Football League," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, marveling at "the poise that he played with and some of the throws that he made."
Brees quickly dismissed the idea that disruptions from the bounty probe, which resulted in a season-long suspension for coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton, was to blame for New Orleans shaky start.
"Not at all. It's the NFL. You better bring it every week," Brees said. "We knew the type of team they were. We knew the type of defense they were. They just came in and played better than we did, made fewer mistakes than we did, made more plays than we did."
The Saints pulled to 40-32 on Darren Sproles' 2-yard reception. But when Washington required a first down to all but put the game away, Griffin delivered a 22-yard strike to tight end Logan Paulsen. Redskins 40, Saints 32
Washington 10 10 10 10 40
New Orleans 7 7 3 15 32
Was • FG Cundiff 37, 7:05.
NO • J.Graham 20 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 3:49.
Was • Garcon 88 pass from Griffin III (Cundiff kick), 3:28.
Was • A.Robinson 5 pass from Griffin III (Cundiff kick), 11:33.
Was • FG Cundiff 41, 6:08.
NO • Roby 4 blocked punt return (Hartley kick), :40.
Was • Morris 1 run (Cundiff kick), 11:24.
Was • FG Cundiff 37, 7:10.
NO • FG Hartley 21, 1:50.
Was • FG Cundiff 45, 10:59.
NO • Moore 33 pass from Brees (Sproles run), 6:19.
Was • Morris 3 run (Cundiff kick), 3:18.
NO • Sproles 2 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 2:25.
Attendance • 72,180.
First downs 22 24
Total Net Yards 464 358
Rushes-yards 44-153 10-32
Passing 311 326
Punt Returns 4-34 2-14
Kickoff Returns 2-49 3-103
Interceptions Ret. 2-50 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 19-26-0 24-52-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-9 2-13
Punts 4-34.8 5-55.6
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 12-127 12-107
Time of Possession 39:10 20:50
Rushing • Washington, Morris 28-96, Griffin III 10-42, Royster 2-10, Young 2-3, Helu 2-2. New Orleans, P.Thomas 4-17, Ingram 6-15.
Passing • Washington, Griffin III 19-26-0-320. New Orleans, Brees 24-52-2-339.
Receiving • Washington, Garcon 4-109, A.Robinson 4-52, Moss 3-47, Helu 3-25, F.Davis 2-38, Paulsen 1-22, Morgan 1-21, Banks 1-6. New Orleans, Moore 6-120, J.Graham 6-85, Sproles 5-35, Colston 4-71, P.Thomas 1-12, Henderson 1-11, D.Thomas 1-5.