LANDOVER, Md. — Robert Griffin III walked gingerly through the Washington Redskins locker room, his sprained right knee in a big black brace.
Teammates stood at their lockers, mixing the emotions of an improbable 31-28 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens with the fear that their franchise player could be seriously hurt.
“We’re happy that we won, obviously," left tackle Trent Williams said. “But that is concerning, knowing he went down. Everyone wants to know how he’s doing."
Griffin went down during Washington’s final drive of regulation Sunday, with the Redskins trailing by eight. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who had played in only one other game this season, stepped in and hit Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining, then ran a quarterback draw for the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Yet another rookie, Richard Crawford, returned a punt 64 yards in overtime to set up Kai Forbath’s 34-yard game-winning field goal. The Redskins (7-6) have a four-game winning streak — remaining one game behind the New York Giants in the race for the NFC East title — but the day’s most important result was still to come. About three hours after the game ended, the Redskins said an MRI exam showed no major ligament damage.
The worst-case scenario would have been a season-ending ACL tear, like the one Griffin had on the same knee while playing for Baylor in 2009. But team spokesman Tony Wyllie said the MRI showed “everything is clear" and ruled out that sort of significant injury.
With the Redskins trailing 28-20 after Ray Rice’s 7-yard touchdown run with 4:47 to play, Griffin started moving his team before he was tackled by Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble. Griffin left for one play, then returned for four more, completing two passes to get the Redskins deep into Ravens territory. But he was also hopping on one leg. Eventually, he fell to the turf and could no longer continue.
In came fourth-round pick Cousins, who was a clutch two for two — back-to-back to Leonard Hankerson for 15 yards and 11 yards to Garcon. Then came the quarterback draw on the 2-point try, a call that Griffin heard through his headphones while getting treatment on the sideline.
The Ravens got the ball to start overtime but went three-and-out. Seventh-round pick Crawford, getting a chance to handle punts for the first time after a disappointing set of games from Brandon Banks, had the big return to Baltimore’s 24-yard line, putting the Redskins easily within the range of Forbath, who hasn’t missed in 14 attempts in his debut NFL season.
Also on Sunday:
CINCINNATI — The grieving Cowboys rallied for a significant win on Dan Bailey’s 40-yard field goal as time ran out. Dallas overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes behind Tony Romo, who held his hand over his heart during a moment of silence to honor teammate Jerry Brown before the kickoff. Brown died in an auto accident early Saturday. Defensive lineman Josh Brent, who was driving, was charged with intoxication manslaughter. The Cowboys (7-6) learned about Brown’s death on their flight to Cincinnati on Saturday. A late comeback was just enough to beat the Bengals (7-6). Romo threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, then led the drive to Bailey’s kick.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 72-yard run. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground as the Panthers racked up 475 total yards to avenge an early-season loss with a dominating performance against the NFC South champion Falcons. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan threw for 342 yards and two scores and had a costly fourth-quarter interception. The Panthers opened a 23-0 lead en route to snapping a five-game losing streak against the Falcons.
MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score. Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings (7-6) overcome another lackluster day from quarterback Christian Ponder to get a win that will keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Jay Cutler threw for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and couldn’t finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of their past five.
CLEVELAND — Rookie Travis Benjamin’s electrifying 93-yard punt return touchdown gave Cleveland momentum and the Browns won their third straight game. Benjamin’s game-changing runback helped the Browns (5-8) continue their resurgence under second-year coach Pat Shurmur, whose future in Cleveland remains uncertain. The Browns have one more win than last season, and their longest winning streak since 2009. Jamaal Charles ran for 165 yards, breaking off an 80-yard TD run on the game’s first play from scrimmage for Kansas City.
PITTSBURGH — Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Danario Alexander, and San Diego won for the first time in 15 regular-season visits to Pittsburgh. The Chargers (5-8), who snapped a four-game losing streak, dominated from the outset. They never let Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get comfortable in his first game in nearly a month. Roethlisberger completed 22 of 42 passes for 285 yards and three second-half touchdowns. But he also threw an interception and had a botched screen pass turn into an easy San Diego score as Pittsburgh (7-6) hardly played like a team readying for a postseason run.
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck led Indianapolis back from a 13-point second-half deficit and Adam Vinatieri made two fourth-quarter field goals. Luck has now engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks for Indy (9-4). It wasn’t all Luck. Delone Carter cut the deficit to 20-14 with a 1-yard TD run on Indy’s opening possession of the second half. And after Pat McAfee’s 52-yard punt went out of bounds at the Titans 1-yard line, Cassius Vaughn jumped in front of Nate Washington, picked off Jake Locker’s pass and scored on a 3-yard interception return to make it 21-20. Rob Bironas gave the Titans (4-9) a 23-21 lead with a 25-yard field goal, but Vinatieri hit from 53 yards to retake the lead and from 40 to seal it.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell ran for short touchdowns and the New York Jets kept their postseason hopes alive. The Jets (6-7) were shut out at halftime for the second consecutive week, but they didn’t need to change quarterbacks to spark the offense this time. Instead, they just pounded the Jaguars (2-11) up the middle.
TAMPA, Fla. — Nick Foles threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final four minutes, including a 1-yarder to Jeremy Maclin with no time remaining. The rally allowed the Eagles to end an eight-game losing streak — their longest in 42 years. Foles completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards in his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick. The rookie threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard game-winning drive after the Philadelphia defense forced a Tampa Bay punt.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Sam Bradford threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds left. Bradford was five of eight for 68 yards to cap a 14-play, 84-yard drive. St. Louis (6-6-1) continued its late-season resurgence by winning its third straight for the first time since closing the 2006 season with three victories. The Bills (5-8) blew a lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter for the second time this season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rookie David Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for one touchdown, ran for two more scores and piled up 327 all-purpose yards and Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes to lead the Giants. The loss all but ended the playoff hopes of Drew Brees and the Saints (5-8), who turned the ball over four times in losing their third straight.
SEATTLE — Marshawn Lynch had three touchdown runs and Seattle set a franchise record for points. The Seahawks forced eight turnovers. Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions. Seattle (8-5) kept a firm grasp on the final NFC wild-card spot and kept alive slim chances of catching San Francisco in the NFC West race. The Seahawks also picked up their first division victory and assured coach Pete Carroll of his first eight-win season in three years with them.
SAN FRANCISCO — Frank Gore ran for a 1-yard touchdown and reached 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career. Gore finished with 63 yards, Anthony Dixon also had a 1-yard scoring run and Colin Kaeper- nick ran for a late 50-yard touchdown and threw for 185 yards in his fourth straight start since being promoted over Alex Smith. NFL sacks leader Aldon Smith added two to his total for 191⁄2, passing Fred Dean’s franchise-best mark of 17 1⁄2 set in 1983.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay is a victory away from clinching the NFC North title after beating Detroit. DaJuan Harris rushed for a score in his first NFL game, Aaron Rodgers added the longest TD run of his career, and Mike Daniels returned a fumble 43 yards as the Packers (9-4) opened a one-game lead over Chicago. Beat the Bears next weekend at Soldier Field, and Green Bay will win the NFC North for a second straight year.