Rookies Rule in Week 14 of the NFL

Newbies continue to play like seasoned pros as the season gets ever closer to the business end

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Patrick Semansky / AP

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins spikes the ball after a two point conversion to tie the game and force overtime during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Landover, Md. on Dec. 9, 2012.

RG IIInjured. Both forms of football had fantastic finishes on Sunday. In England, Manchester United defeated local rivals Manchester City on pretty much the last kick of the match. In Washington, the Redskins managed to defeat their neighbors, the Baltimore Ravens, in similarly dramatic fashion. What made the 31-28 overtime victory even more unlikely was that, down by eight entering the final drive of the fourth quarter, star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III went down with a knee injury. Surely this would mean that Baltimore’s defense would be able to withstand RG III’s fellow rookie, backup QB Kirk Cousins, who’d only played in one other game this year?

Not exactly. Cousins made a couple of important plays before finding Pierre Garcon for a TD pass with 29 seconds left, then had the chutzpah to run a quarterback draw for the 2-point conversion needed to tie the game. Another Redskins rookie, Richard Crawford, returned a 64-yard punt in overtime, which set up Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal.

As for RG III, he likely won’t need season-ending surgery torn ACL, but may well miss next week’s game in Cleveland. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said Griffin underwent an MRI, has a sprained right knee but “everything is clear” when it comes to serious ligament damage.

(Q&A: Washington D.C.’s NFL Savior, Robert Griffin III)

A Pair of 50s. The Redskins needed to beat the Ravens in order keep pace with the defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, in the competitive NFC East. New York put up an impressive 52 points to put away the New Orleans Saints, 52-27. Yet another remarkable rookie, New York running back and kick returner David Wilson, had a game for the ages: Wilson piled up 227 return yards, including a 9-yard-dash for a TD, and rushed for 100 more yards, and two more TDs. The Giants weren’t the only team to hit the half-century mark. The underrated Seattle Seahawks utterly embarrassed the Arizona Cardinals 58-0, making – you got it – rookie QB Russell Wilson the first QB to start and win his first six games at home since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Wilson sat out the last 25 minutes of the game, giving him plenty of rest during the fourth-largest shutout in the NFL since 1940.

Good Day for Green Bay. The Packers are making their move to win the NFC North, while getting some welcome help from their division rivals. Earlier Sunday the suddenly spluttering Chicago Bears, who been in charge for much of the season, lost to the Minnesota Vikings (who may yet make the playoffs themselves). So if Green Bay defeated Detroit on Sunday Night football, the Pack would be one more win away from clinching the NFC North title. Green Bay took care of business, though the Packers weren’t very sharp in their 27-20 win over Detroit. The Lions actually raced to a 14-0 lead but ended up blowing a 10-point plus advantage for the third game in a row. Detroit hasn’t won in Wisconsin in 22 years, the longest such streak in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 36 games at Lambeau Field, though his 27-yard scoring run was the longest of his career (and, crazily, the team’s lengthiest of the year). In the NFL, ugly doesn’t matter. The math is pretty simple for the Packers: beat the Bears next weekend at Soldier Field, and they win the division.

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