LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Robert Griffin III didn’t slide, and now the Washington Redskins hope their season isn’t sliding away.
Griffin finished his longest run of the year, finally flashing the speed he showed before offseason surgery on a torn ligament in his right knee, with an awkward headfirst dive near the Detroit Lions 29-yard line in the fourth quarter.
The ball popped loose, and the Lions recovered the fumble.
On the next possession, the Redskins gave up the go-ahead score in a 27-20 loss Sunday afternoon, dropping to 0-3 for the first time since 2001.
“I was trying to declare myself down, avoid the big hit from the safeties coming from the middle,” Griffin said. “Knee down, elbow down.
“But it’s the rule. It can be a (bad) rule, but it’s still one of the NFL rules, and they said it’s a fumble. So, it’s unfortunate, and I’ve just got to make sure if I dive forward, hold onto the ball.”
Said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan: “Probably next time, he’ll do a normal slide instead of head first.”
Like Griffin on the fateful play, Washington dove headfirst into a season filled with high expectations after winning the NFC East a year ago.
“If you told us we’d be 0-3 right now, we’d all be shocked,” Griffin said. “It’s fine. Sometimes, you’ve got to have that wakeup call, and we’ve had the wakeup call the first two weeks. We played better today, but we didn’t get the win. So, it’s time for us to dig even deeper.”
Several Redskins players expressed their confidence in the team, but the result has yet to change.
“A house divided against itself shall fall,” running back Alfred Morris said. “I said the same thing last week.”
After the Lions took a 20-17 lead following Griffin’s fumble, the Redskins thought they had gone back in front when Griffin hit Aldrick Robinson on a post pattern for an apparent 57-yard touchdown with 9:05 to play.
But replays showed the ball coming loose as the receiver went to the ground.
Incomplete pass. Those celebrations were for nothing.
“It was really unfortunate that we lost the game on two calls, two judgment calls,” Griffin said.
The Lions got their insurance touchdown with 3:56 remaining on Matthew Stafford’s 11-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, who had four Redskins around him as he fought his way across the goal line.
Washington pulled within seven with a field goal with 1:40 to play as Griffin pushed his stats higher.
Griffin completed 32 of 50 passes for 326 yards and had his fourth interception of the season, one shy of his total from all of 2012.
He becomes the first Redskin with three straight 300 yard passing games, a byproduct of spending most of the season playing catch-up.
Leading up to the game, Griffin said he would run the ball more to give his team a spark.
He rushed only six times for 37 yards, including his first carry out of the zone read this season. The Redskins also scored an offensive touchdown for the first time this season.
The Redskins’ defense, which allowed 1,023 yards in the first two games, gave up 441 more.
DeAngelo Hall gave Washington the early lead with a 17-yard interception return for a touchdown, but he was sick at the thought of losing.
The Redskins lost at home to the Lions for the first time since 1939, a 21-game streak that comes to a halt as the second-longest in NFL history.
The Redskins’ last home loss in the series came in 1935, when they were still Boston Redskins, two years before the move to Washington.
“The food isn’t going to taste that good tonight,” Hall said. “Still trying to wrap my head around what we can do to get better.”
Notes: Redskins injuries: LB Brandon Jenkins (right ankle), TE Jordan Reed (bruised right knee). … Washington K John Potter made two field goals subbing for Kai Forbath (groin), TE Fred Davis missed the game with a sprained ankle. … A moment of silence was held before the game for the victims of last week’s Navy Yard shooting. The Navy Yard Ceremonial Honor Guard presented the colors for the national anthem.
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