Take heart, Redskins fans.
Yes, Washington's best season in 21 years ended Sunday in the first round of the playoffs with a 24-14 loss to Seattle. And yes, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III re-aggravated an injury to his right knee in the fourth quarter. It twisted so unnaturally that fans winced as it happened, and then again with each replay. Griffin was scheduled for an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
At least Redskins fans in Hampton Roads could cheer - quietly, and not in earshot of other 'Skins fans, obviously - for another rookie, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played high school football just down the road in Richmond and whose grandfather was a longtime president of Norfolk State University. Wilson has shown grace and maturity in his first year in the pros.
Losing to the Seahawks disappointed Redskins fans, to be sure. But this season still gave them many reasons to cheer, chief among them a batch of talented rookies. Griffin conducted himself with humility and class even as he lifted his team to heights it has not seen in decades.
His backup, Kirk Cousins, ably stepped in when injury kept Griffin on the sidelines. Running back Alfred Morris rose from the obscurity of a sixth-round draft pick to make a name for himself with a team record for rushing yards and the third-highest total in NFL history for a freshman pro. Kicker Kai Forbath finally provided an accurate leg to bolster the team's scoring ability.
It's the first Redskins squad in more than a decade to harken back to the team's glory days.
For the final half of the season, this was a team that played with composure, grit and the kind of considerable smarts that were the hallmarks of the franchise when it regularly wrestled the division title from the best teams in the NFL.
Sunday's game ended the Redskins' playoff run more quickly than fans had hoped. But perhaps it was a blessing in disguise: time for Griffin to heal and to condition for a stronger, healthier second season, time for the team to cement its lineup into a powerhouse.
Time to get ready for a longer run into the post-season next year.
That hope is more than Redskins fans have had in a very long time.
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