Just like that, Griffin was done. And so were the Washington Redskins.
The Seattle Seahawks finally won a road playoff game, snapping an eight-game postseason skid away from home with a 24-14 NFC wild-card victory Sunday over the Redskins, who lost Griffin to another knee injury in the fourth quarter.
"I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there," Griffin said. "But every time you get on the field, you're putting yourself on the line."
Griffin didn't know what the injury was, and coach Mike Shanahan said he was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
Washington won seven straight games to win the NFC East title and become the only team in the last 16 years to make the playoffs after a 3-6 start. But any hope for a late comeback win against the Seahawks ended once Griffin's heavily braced right knee buckled badly as he strained to field a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter. He lay on the ground, unable to recover the ball as the Seahawks pounced on it.
Many fans in the stands stood in silence, their hands covering their faces as Griffin was being attended to. Several of Griffin's Redskins teammates also stood around the quarterback to see if he was OK.
Though Griffin walked off the field under his own power after several minutes and saluted the fans, the Redskins (10-7) quickly announced he would not return.
"If you didn't pull him out then, you should get fired," Shanahan said.
Griffin suffered a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament located on the outside of the knee against Baltimore on Dec. 9, caused when he was hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble. He was limping earlier in this game, clearly still ailing from that injury.
"It was hard to watch RGIII tonight," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It was hard on him. He was freaking gallant."
Despite Griffin's struggles, Shanahan left him in the game. Not that Griffin would have accepted an early exit.
"I probably would been right back out there on the field," Griffin said. "You respect authority, and I respect coach Shanahan. But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man, sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game."
Griffin went to the locker room to get checked out after going down in a heap in the fourth quarter, but walked back out a few minutes later and stood on the sideline as only a spectator for the rest of the game.
Seattle's Steven Hauschka kicked his third field goal of the game, and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins couldn't pull off the late-game heroics he displayed a few weeks ago against the Ravens when Griffin was first injured. Griffin was playing in his third game since spraining his right knee against Baltimore, which also brought Cousins into that game.
While setting a rookie quarterback record with 815 rushing yards this season, Griffin captivated the D.C. area — and the football world — with his dazzling ability to pass and run. After four straight last-place finishes in the NFC East, the Redskins appear to have a bright future with their No. 2 overall pick.
As long as Griffin is healthy, of course.
Sunday's game was only the second playoff contest in NFL history between rookie quarterbacks, and before his injury, Griffin looked more like a first-year player than he had during Washington's impressive run to end the regular season. He completed 10 of 19 passes for 84 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and ran for 21 yards on five carries.
"I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way," Griffin said. "I'm the best option."
Shanahan said he spoke with Griffin throughout the game about the quarterback's health.
"He said, 'Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,'" Shanahan said. "I couldn't disagree with him."
Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards for the Seahawks, who broke an eight-game postseason losing streak away from home.
Wilson was among those who watched and worried after Griffin went down.
"He's a tremendous football player," Wilson said. "I just prayed he was all right."
Seattle (12-5) will visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.
Lynch's 27-yard run with 7:08 remaining gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game - and then Seattle held on for the win.
Griffin tossed touchdown passes to Evan Royster and Logan Paulsen as Washington scored on its first two drives to take a 14-0 lead, but Seattle rallied to move on to the next round.
"We actually got a chance to sit at the dinner table and experience success," Griffin said. "It was a good meal, but now we want to go back and get dessert, and we'll be ready to get dessert next year."
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