Handing out labels after the Redskins’ improbable 40-32 win over the New Orleans Saints. As you might expect, the Winners section runs a little bit long.
Robert Griffin III – It’s only one game, but … man. For today, at least, Griffin somehow managed to live up to the hype, the multiple draft picks given up, and the insane weight of expectations. He finished with 320 yards on 19-of-26 with 2 touchdowns and no turnovers, after starting the game 8-for-8 for 149 yards and a touchdown; his first incomplete pass as a pro came 17:48 into his NFL career. He demonstrated toughness, poise, accuracy, arm strength … all the abilities he was touted with after his Heisman-winning season at Baylor were on display. Perhaps most impressively, he managed to live up to his pregame wardrobe, above.
Kyle Shanahan – Called a hell of a game, putting RG3 in position to do all the stuff above. His offense broke 30 33 points for the first time in his tenure, which is a nice way to start the season.
Pierre Garçon – 4 catches for 109 yards and a TD would get him into the Winners section no matter what. Doing it all in the first quarter before leaving with a foot injury is even more impressive, and earned him a fan in Clinton Portis. Hopefully the injury isn’t serious.
Alfred Morris – Almost everyone assumed he was just the name spit out by the Mike Shanahan QB RB Dispenser today. Instead the rookie delivered 96 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 carries, getting visibly stronger later in the game.
Steven Bowen & Barry Cofield – I don’t pretend to be qualified to describe intricacies of interior D-line play, but they certainly seemed to be collapsing the pocket, pressuring Drew Brees, knocking down passes, and doing all that other good stuff.
DeJon Gomes – Pressed into starting duty following a near-biblical assortment of plagues striking everyone else in his position group, the second-year safety acquitted himself well throughout. Oh, and he had a slightly crucial pick-and-return to halt what could’ve been a tying New Orleans drive. Actually, the much-maligned defensive backfield probably belongs here (despite Brees throwing for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns). [EDIT TO ADD: Except for Madieu Williams. He probably belonged in the Losers section below, but I’ll let the inevitable NFL fine take care of his performance.]
DeAngelo Hall – Notched his first career sack with a third-down takedown of Brees. It wasn’t particularly pretty, and it involved an alarming amount of wrestling given that Brees is notoriously short (by NFL standards), but it was a sack. Also seemed to be covering pretty well in the slot.
London Fletcher – Did all the things that make him always a winner. Even managed to seem like a winner when being abused by Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, because Graham is an utter freak.
Aldrick Robinson – Another second-year guy who had a strong day: 4 catches for 52 yards, plus his first NFL touchdown.
Billy Cundiff – I was skeptical after his first field goal of the day, which I thought was needlessly exciting for 29-yarder. Then he kicked a bunch of touchbacks and extra points and a few more field goals and made me eat my words.
Burgundy Blog – Had vowed to lick a urinal if Pete Prisco was correct in his prediction that the Redskins offense wouldn’t break 21 points this season; didn’t even have to worry past the third quarter of the first game.
Sean Payton – Sure, his team lost, but for at least half the game they looked like a different team without their head coach. And that makes him a winner? I guess?
Everyone who tried to cover Jimmy Graham – Graham finished with “just” 6 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, but it felt at points like he could do whatever he wanted on the field. When DeJon Gomes tried to tackle him, he appeared to be from a different sport, one featuring much shorter people.
Danny Smith – Never a favorite of the folks on this blog, the blocked punt given up for a TD at the end of the first half totally shifted the complexion of the game and gave the Saints their first hint of life.
Rex Grossman – May have made the roster, but didn’t make the active gameday roster. Kirk Cousins is your backup QB.
Fred Davis – 2 catches for 38 yards, and at least a couple of noticeable drops. Davis certainly didn’t do anything to calm anyone upset about the release of Chris Cooley.
Pete Prisco – When called on his “Redskins offense won’t break 21 this year” prediction on Twitter, the CBS Sports writer owned up to the mistake, tweeting “Yeah wrong about that one”. Sure, to do otherwise would’ve required him to rewrite the laws of basic mathematics, but still.