- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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OAKLAND -- The corner blitz was picked up, but the pressure was still forcing its way to Robert Griffin III. Worse, his first two reads were covered. That’s when Griffin did something that Washington Redskins fans had been waiting to see: he returned to 2012.
Griffin, with a defender at his feet, escaped to the right and running back Roy Helu scampered to an open area. Griffin then dumped a pass to Helu, who hurdled a Raiders defender en route to a 28-yard gain to the Raiders’ 14-yard line.
It was set up by Griffin’s slowly-returning mobility after his January knee surgery. Helu’s hurdle returned some of the pizazz to an offense that has shown little of it this season. One play later Helu crashed through an opening for a 14-yard touchdown, sealing a much-needed 24-14 victory.
For Griffin, it was another game of mixed results as he completed 18-of-31 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, a slant to Pierre Garcon for a 17-14 third-quarter lead. He did not turn the ball over, but he also had a costly intentional grounding penalty that left Washington with a third-and-goal from the 18-yard line.
But he again showed glimpses against a solid defense that gave the Redskins headaches all day with its multiple looks and blitzes. For a while, Griffin was unable to do much of anything as the Redskins had two three-and-outs and a four-play series on their first three times with the ball.
However, Griffin and the offense started to get a rhythm when they went to a no-huddle attack at the end of the first quarter. It led to a field goal drive, but it enabled them to get confidence after a bad start.
“When nothing is going your way you’ve got to try something,” Griffin said. “Guys responded to it well.”
Griffin did run three times for 10 yards, and still does not look like the same player he was a year ago. The Redskins knew it would take some time and it has. But he did do a better job avoiding pressure in the second half. The difference now is that instead of turning those plays into big gainers like a year ago, he’s turning them into throwaways on the run.
But he also showed excellent presence on one third-quarter pass to tight end Logan Paulsen. It resulted in a fumble by Paulsen after 32 yards. However, Griffin made the play by sliding to his left to avoid pressure, keeping his eyes downfield and zipping a pass to Paulsen.
More than Griffin, though, having Helu come through with Alfred Morris on the bench with bruised ribs was a must. Helu had not done much this season after missing most of last season with turf toe. He looked good this summer, but it wasn’t until late in the game that he resembled the player who was visible in training camp.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Garcon said. “We made a lot of plays … We left some yards out there. We still have a lot to do.”
The Redskins said that each of the past three weeks. This time they could say it after a win. They’re not complete yet. They did show more of what they used to be.
2dJohn Keim and Adam Caplan