ST. LOUIS (CBSDC) — It wasn’t quite the encore performance Robert Griffin III was hoping for. Then again, Mike Shanahan said not to get carried away with all of the hype surrounding the new face of the Washington Redskins.
Tempers began flaring early and a chippy battle between the Redskins and St. Louis Rams culminated in a costly personal foul on Joshua Morgan in the game’s closing moments.
The frustrated wide receiver threw the ball at Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, drew the flag that cost Washington a 48-yard field goal attempt to tie the game. Instead, Billy Cundiff was tasked with a desperation 62-yard attempt that sailed well right, sealing a 31-28 win for the Rams.
Sunday started with a bang for Washington as Josh Wilson returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown 11 seconds into the game.
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However, the enthusiasm was quickly tapered by injuries to key members of the defense.
Defensive end Adam Carriker, who was selected by the Rams in the first-round of the 2007 NFL Draft, suffered a right knee injury on the next series. It appeared the Nebraska product’s knee gave out while attempting to get around the Rams right tackle.
Trainers heavily wrapped Carriker’s knee and packed it with ice after he very gingerly walked off the field with assistance. He did not return.
Head coach Mike Shanahan said Carriker will undergo an MRI to determine whether surgery is necessary, but the initial assessment “doesn’t look good.”
A short time later, linebacker Brian Orakpo came up holding his shoulder after sacking Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. The 26-year-old was visibly upset following the play.
Orakpo underwent surgery to repair torn pectoral muscle this offseason. He also sustained a left shoulder injury in the second game of the preseason, but was able to return in time for last week’s season opener.
The Redskins diagnosed Orakpo’s injury a “shoulder strain.”
The play on the field was largely overshadowed by the officiating by the replacement referees who appeared to blow calls on both sides of the field.
Rams running back Steven Jackson was ruled down short of the goal line after it appeared he scored a one-yard touchdown in the first half. Jackson thought he scored, got up, spiked the ball and was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
St. Louis was forced to settle for a field goal.
The group also did not throw a penalty flag in the fourth quarter on what appeared to be a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Fred Davis.
“I don’t think anything really needs to be said,” Shanahan said of the officiating. “I think that if you watched the game you could see what happened.”
The coach also said he hopes the regular officials are back in the near future.
“The game was a little bit out of control and you don’t like to see that,” Shanahan said.
Griffin completed 20 of 29 passing attempts for 206 yards, which included a 68-yard touchdown strike to Leonard Hankerson in the second quarter. He also threw the first interception of his NFL career.
The Heisman Trophy winner’s versatility was again on display as he nearly matched Alfred Morris’ rushing totals.
Griffin ran the ball 11 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns while flashing Houdini-like escape abilities at times.
Morris carried the ball 16 times for 89 yards in St. Louis.
Washington’s secondary continued to give up large chunks of yardage to their opponents.
Sam Bradford torched the defense for 310 yards and three touchdowns behind a 26-for-35 matinée performance.
Amendola accounted for more than half of those yards and completions. Raheem Morris’ group had no answers for the wide receiver, who racked up 160 receiving yards, 15 catches and touchdown.
His only blemish came on the first play from scrimmage when his fumble was returned for a touchdown.
Washington will now lick their wounds and prepare for next Sunday’s home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.