LANDOVER, Md. (CBSDC) — Robert Griffin III was in the midst of orchestrating a fourth quarter drive that seemed destined to break a 17-all tie and put the Washington Redskins ahead of the Detroit Lions when the game turned on a dime.
He rushed up the middle, flashing the RGIII of old, before diving head first to avoid a collision with a Detroit defender. The ground forced the ball to pop loose and Lions safety Glover Quin scooped it up.
Six plays later David Akers kicked a 28-yard field goal to put Detroit ahead for good.
By rule, had Griffin chosen to slide feet first he would have been ruled down. The decision cost Washington dearly.
“I was declaring myself down to avoid the big hit coming from the safety that’s coming from the middle,” Griffin said. “Knee down, elbow down, but that’s the rule. It could be a sucky rule, but it’s still one of the NFL rules. They said, ‘It’s a fumble.’ It’s unfortunate.”
“I hit the ground, thought I was down and the ball came out. I’m looking at the ref like I was down and they told me I wasn’t.”
But was he consciously making the decision to go head first?
“I think it’s just an instinct thing,” Griffin said. “On the sideline I slid with (Glover Quin) coming at me. I slid feet first because I didn’t want him to hit me in the face. On the run I had the fumble on, I went face first because they were a little further away. You can’t really be out there thinking bout that kind of stuff. You’ve just got to do what happens when you react and hold on to the ball.”
Griffin said he was aware of the rule before the game.