ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – The only thing missing from Robert Griffin III’s NFL preseason debut was the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback showing off his ability to run the ball on Thursday night.
Give it time, Griffin said. He wouldn’t mind saving something for the regular season.
“I don’t mind that,” he said. “I didn’t get touched today. That was a great feeling.”
Though he didn’t get a chance to run the ball, Griffin did show off his arm in producing the lone touchdown drive for the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) in a 7-6 win over the Buffalo Bills (No. 19).
After a muffed handoff and no first downs in his first two series, RG3 found his rhythm by completing his final three passes for 58 yards, capped by a 20-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon.
Garcon celebrated by doing a front-first somersault in the end zone. And he was quickly joined by Griffin, who raced over to congratulate him with a leap in the air. With 5:54 left in the first quarter, it was the go-ahead score after the Redskins fell behind 3-0.
It was an eventful cameo for the Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted with the No. 2 pick out of Baylor. Griffin finished going 4 of 6 for 70 yards and a lost fumble.
“It was fun to get out there and run around, suit up in the Redskins gear for the first time officially,” Griffin said. “It’s something I don’t want to forget.”
Coach Mike Shanahan was pleased with what Griffin managed to accomplish in just 14 plays.
“He did everything you asked him to do,” Shanahan said. “He stepped up. Made some plays, some excellent throws. He was very calm cool collected. Excellent for his first game.”
Defensive end Mario Williams made a debut of his own for the Bills in his first game since signing a six-year, $100 million contract in free agency in March. Williams, the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, and the Bills’ new-look defensive front was solid in limiting the Redskins to 11 yards and no first downs in the first two series.
The real trouble for Buffalo came on offense, which was sloppy and lacked finish.
Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick went 6 for 14 for 61 yards, and squandered a scoring opportunity when the Bills got the ball at the Redskins 21 following Griffin’s fumble. The Bills were undone by a false start penalty, and then an illegal formation that negated what would’ve been a 20-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson.
Buffalo instead settled for Rian Lindell hitting a 43-yard field goal.
“There was more bad than good tonight,” Fitzpatrick said. “I thought it was really poor, but luckily it’s the preseason.”
Discipline was an issue. The Bills were penalized 14 times for 134 yards.
“It looked ugly. It felt ugly. And it was ugly,” coach Chan Gailey said. “It was a great lesson in our lack of discipline at this point.”
Lindell also hit a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. But he also pushed a 22-yard attempt wide left to end a series in which backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen couldn’t produce a touchdown despite six chances from inside the Redskins’ 10.
Griffin’s only real miscue was the fumble, which was credited to him because he was the last player to have possession. Replays, however, showed running back Evan Royster was also to blame because he never closed his hands on the ball.
Though the play had been whistled dead when Buffalo’s George Wilson recovered the ball, Griffin still chased down Wilson and punched the ball out of his hands as the safety ran toward the end zone.
Shanahan was impressed.
“If I’ve got a quarterback running the other way when there’s a fumble and a guy right there, then I’ve got the wrong quarterback,” Shanahan said.
The touchdown came after Griffin completed 20- and 18-yard passes to Garcon. Coming out of a time out, Griffin then smartly hit Garcon on a screen pass.
The game was otherwise dull and sloppy. And the replacement officials struggled.
They were booed late in the first quarter after muffing a call on a touchback. Bills punter Brian Moorman hit a 49-yard punt, which Buffalo’s Ruvell Martin downed at the Redskins 4. Back judge Craig Burd, however, ruled it a touchback.
Gailey challenged the play, which was reversed shortly after referee David Scott reviewed it.
The NFL is using replacement officials after locking out its regular officials, whose contract expired.
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