The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 15, 2012

RG3 ran smarter, but aggressive for Redskins in Vikings game

One week after his first NFL concussion, Robert Griffin III ran more, ran smarter, ran bigger.

And won.

He left the Minnesota Vikings in his wake, never more so than on his 76-yard touchdown run that put the game away for the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter. His final rushing tally: 13 carries, 138 yards, two touchdowns. His passing numbers: 17 for 22 for 182 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 97.2 rating.

The scoreboard: Redskins 38, Vikings 26. The soundtrack: Chants of "RG3!"

"I told the team," Griffin said, "I wasn't going to leave them hanging."

Griffin was upset that he wasn't there for his teammates after a shot to the head forced him to leave the seven-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons a week earlier, and it was fair to wonder whether the hit — and the NFL-required battery of post-concussion tests that followed — would stop RG3 from being RG3.

No way. He did run out of bounds a couple of times, and he slid once to avoid a tackle, but the former college hurdler also produced the longest touchdown run by an NFL quarterback since Kordell Stewart scampered 80 yards for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers in 1996 — as well as the fifth highest rushing total for a quarterback in league history and the most since Michael Vick ran for 166 in 2006.

"You try to play smart," Griffin said. "But stay aggressive."

Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't about to rein in the rookie. Quite the contrary. The coach figured that Griffin's designed runs made the game safer for the quarterback because otherwise the vaunted Vikings pass rush would have blitzed away on passing downs and piled up a few bone-jarring sacks.

"Robert, by doing what he does, keeping the defense off balance, really gives him a chance, in my opinion, to stay healthier," Shanahan said.

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