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RG3 shows “It” factor in leading Redskins to victory

By George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel –

TAMPA, Fla. — He is a Baylor grad just four games into his NFL career.

But at first and second blush this season, the kid who should still be riding on training wheels or sucking a pacifier is looking like he might stick around long enough to share Washington Redskins lore with old-time legends such as Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III is making the capital beltway all giddy, documented by the front page of The Washington Post that ran the phrase “RG3” 29 times in boldfaced characters in its Sept. 13 edition.

You can add another boldfaced headline to the mix:

RG3 rallies Redskins to victory in closing seconds.

The Tampa Bay Bucs, led by Josh Freeman, rallied from an 18-point deficit to give the Bucs a one-point lead with 1:42 to go at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

One problem. There was 1:42 to go.

Griffin moved the team to the Tampa Bay 56 in seven plays, setting up the game-winner for kicker Billy Cundiff.

Washington’s 24-22 victory simply served to fuel the passion among Washington fans about a rookie who has essentially chucked most of that learning-curve stuff in the garbage.

Griffin is the “It Guy.”

“He’s a winner. He’s a winner,” Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said twice for emphasis. “And it’s starting to rub off. We always knew he was going to be able to come in and make plays.”

It’s now clear why, after trading four draft choices to St. Louis to be able to select Griffin with the second pick of the NFL Draft, owner Daniel Snyder took his front-office staff to the Bahamas to celebrate.

Party favors all around, people. “He’s perfect,” former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot said recently.

Pretty close to it, statistically, anyway. Griffin was 26 of 35 for 323 yards and ran seven times for 43 yards, including a 5-yard quarterback draw in the second quarter.

He was on the move again on the final drive, scrambling for 15 yards around right end on one play.

“Anytime you can extend the play with your feet and make plays happen with your feet running the ball, you got a chance to catch defenses off-balance,” Hall said. “He’s been able to do that all season so far. He’s got a great arm. He’s always looking to pass. Anytime you put those things together, you have a chance to be good.”

The Redskins are 2-2 but fully energized to jump-start their rivalries with the Cowboys and other franchises. The Bucs, playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league, are staggering out of the gate at 1-3.

This one wasn’t on Freeman. For all his inconsistencies — witness the 22 interceptions vs. the 16 touchdowns last season — Freeman did his due diligence on the Bucs’ final possession, going 36 yards on seven plays to set up the go-ahead field goal by Conner Barth.

Now 45 games into his NFL gig, Freeman has struggled with moments when he looks like a guy deserving of those atrocious Creamsicle uniforms from the dog days instead of the pewter, black and orange established in 1997 to improve the team’s image.

“Losing is not acceptable,” Freeman said. “There are no moral victories.”

I’d say it’s a little down and out at the moment for Freeman and the Bucs, although the ebb and flow of the NFL is much different than the college game, where one lousy weekend can ruin an entire year. The Bucs have 12 more of these scrums to figure it all out.

I wouldn’t call Griffin and the Redskins locks in your Super Bowl pool either, but the potential here is huge. The aforementioned Post is so caught up in Griffin’s rise to power that it has assigned a reporter to write a series of large profile pieces chronicling the season.

Griffin is the “It Guy.”

Baugh, Jurgensen and the rest of them might find it a bit crowded soon when people start talking about Redskin greats.

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