Robert Griffin III hasn’t had an Adrian Peterson-type year returning from knee surgery.
Statistics suggest a sophomore slump at the midway point for the Washington Redskins quarterback, the NFL Offensive Rookie of Year in 2012 — the same season Peterson won the NFL MVP a year removed from major knee surgery.
However, Griffin has slowly looked more like the same dual-threat quarterback the Vikings saw last season, with Washington attempting another second-half push into the postseason.
Griffin had a career-high 138 rushing yards in a 38-26 victory over the Vikings at FedEx Field on Oct. 14, 2012. He broke a 76-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“A lot of people will remember that run, and I think they will for the rest of my career,” Griffin said. “It’s tough to reflect on it now going up against the same team. They’re not going to want that to happen. They’re going to try to do everything they can possible to make sure it doesn’t.”
Through the first half of this season, Griffin showed flashes of his rookie self, but nothing consistently resembling that same aggressiveness 10 months removed from lateral collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament surgery in his right knee.
He initially suffered the injury against the Ravens on Dec. 9, 2012. Griffin returned and helped Washington clinch the NFC East with victories over Philadelphia and Dallas, but his knee buckled again in the wild-card game against the Seahawks.
“I feel good, that’s all that needs to be said about that,” Griffin said. “I think everyone talks about my health enough. I don’t need to join in on that conversation.”
Griffin was limited to being a pocket passer, posting three consecutive games of more than 300 passing yards to start the season. He is projected to surpass his rookie total of 3,200 passing yards, but Griffin has nearly doubled his interceptions in the process.
In a 30-24 overtime victory over the Chargers on Sunday, Griffin threw his ninth interception; he had only five as a rookie.
Last season, Washington had 14 turnovers, fewest in the NFL. This year, it is already at 16 through eight games, with Griffin accounting for 12 (he has lost three fumbles).
”We take pride in our protecting the ball and that’s what I do,” Griffin said. “It’s been unfortunate that I’ve had more turnovers this year than last year, but that’s not a trend I plan on continuing.”
Griffin had a season-high .719 completion percentage (23-for-32) on Sunday as Washington piled up 500 yards of offense. In the 45-41 victory over the Bears two weeks ago, Griffin had 382 total yards and season highs in passer rating (105.2) and rushing yards (84).
“We’ve had a few games where we started to play better and hopefully we can continue to do that the rest of the year,” coach Mike Shanahan said during Tuesday’s conference call.
The Redskins are 3-5 and hoping for a second-half push similar to last season, when they won their last seven regular-season games to take the NFC East.
“As long as we keep doing what we need to do, stick together and trust our preparation, then we’ll eventually come out of it,” Griffin said. “We do believe we’re tough mentally, that’s what we’ve had to be as a team.”