Redskins 31, Falcons 28
LANDOVER, MD. -
The Atlanta Falcons steamrolled into the nation's capital as one of the few remaining teams still undefeated in the NFL. The league's leading passer, Matt Ryan, looked to help the Falcons set a team-record 5-0 start with the win on Sunday.
In contrast, the Redskins and their exciting rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, simply hoped to get their record above .500 on their home turf in D.C.
The weather wasn't going to cooperate with the offenses, given temperatures in the 50s and a heavy coat of rain to make the field surface slick and treacherous.
Griffin drove the Redskins down the field in their opening drive, bringing them to the Atlanta 25-yard line, when Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson intercepted a pass and weaved his way between his would-be tacklers before finding open space and an 80-yard touchdown return.
After the Redskins' second drive ended in a punt, Ryan took the ball for the Falcons and led them down the field with a balanced attack that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown pass to ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez, giving the Falcons a 14-0 lead.
As the second quarter began, the Redskins found their rhythm after halfback Alfred Morris took a run 47 yards from scrimmage to eventually set up a two-yard touchdown run by Griffin, who carried the ball into the end zone on a quarterback draw to cut the lead to seven points.
The Falcons' elite duo of wide receivers would make their presence felt in the second quarter. On third and long, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones out-jumped a pair of Washington defenders for a deep gain, and set the Falcons up in Redskins territory once again. Fellow receiver Roddy White made an amazing, one-handed circus-catch at the Redskins' five-yard line, which was immediately followed by a Ryan touchdown pass to fullback Lousaka Polite as the Washington faithful roared in their displeasure.
Rookie runner Morris continued to gain big yards on the ground as the Falcons played it safe with their lead, and Griffin's skill as a runner could not be denied on a 13-yard, play-action quarterback rollout to the right that gave the Redskins their second touchdown of the day to keep the deficit at seven as the first half expired.
After an uneventful third quarter in which both teams blocked and parried but didn't land a solid blow, the Falcons struck first in the fourth quarter. After a long pass from Ryan to receiver Harry Douglas, halfback Michael Turner took the ball up the middle from five yards out to give the Falcons a 28-14 fourth-quarter lead.
But Griffin wasn't done. With less than seven minutes left in the game, and on third-and-long, Griffin rolled out to his right, shook off a would-be tackler and delivered a strike downfield to Morris, who rumbled another 30 yards with the ball. One play later, Griffin ran for his third touchdown of the game to close the Redskins to within a touchdown of tying the contest.
Not content to merely rest upon their lead and eat the clock, Ryan and the Falcons took to the air, getting to midfield before their drive eventually stalled. With only three minutes left in the game, Griffin and the Redskins would have one last opportunity to tie.
Fear of Griffin's fleet feet put the Falcons' defense in no-man's land, and the Redskins' rookie quarterback was able to drive the ball deep into Atlanta territory. A clutch third-down pass to Pierre Garçon had Washington in scoring position, and Griffin took advantage of a timid defense with yet another scramble for a touchdown -- his fourth of the game on the ground, and his most important yet.
After the extra point tied the game at 28-28, the D.C. crowd was in a frenzy as the Falcons took the ball with only a minute and a half left to play. That boisterous Washington crowd may have rattled Ryan, as he threw three quick incompletions; forcing a punt that gave the Redskins the ball at their own 40-yard line with 46 seconds left to play.
An 18-yard reception by Josh Morgan got the Redskins down to the Falcons' 29-yard line, and Washington immediately called their final timeout with only two seconds left to line up a potential game-winning field goal.
After being "iced" by Falcons coach Mike Smith, Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff lined up his 46-yard field goal attempt on the wet and slippery field. Cundiff, who was the goat for the Ravens in the playoffs last year, hit it true, clearing the crossbar as time expired to give the Redskins an improbable win and significant momentum going forward.
With their electric young quarterback celebrating on the soggy turf, Redskins fans streamed out of FedEx Field, hopeful and excited about what the rest of the season might hold.
The Madden 13 Futurecast is simulated using 11-minute quarters with a 20-second accelerated clock and modified sliders that result in final game statistics within standard NFL norms. Every effort has been made to adjust for current depth charts and injury statuses, taken directly from the teams themselves.