When Robert Griffin III steps onto the field, the read-option he runs for the Washington Redskins gives opponents fits.
He initially had his way with the Ravens in Week 14, driving the Redskins on a 10-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown and scoring another in an 8-play, 83-yard drive.
Griffin, who finished with just 34 yards rushing on 7 carries, didn’t have a single rush on those scoring drives.
The Ravens were without linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Dannell Ellerbe and lost Jameel McClain for the rest of the season with a spine contusion during the game.
Going into the Feb. 3 Super Bowl vs. the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens believe they have an edge in preparing for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and their version of the read-option.
“Both of them can run. Both of them got great deep balls,” Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee said. “The offense revolves around them. If we shut out dude like we shut out RG3 … that’s basically their offense. That’s what we got to focus on, him and Frank Gore.”
Gore has been a 1,200-yard rusher for two consecutive seasons for the 49ers. Just because Kaepernick isn’t getting his yards on the ground doesn't mean Gore won’t.
Alfred Morris, the single back behind Griffin, chewed up the Ravens for 129 yards and a TD. The good news, however, is that only 48 came in the second half. The Ravens lost 31-28 in overtime mostly because of a pair of third-quarter turnovers in Redskins territory by quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Ravens used an extra linebacker in rookie Courtney Upshaw in place of a defensive end to contain Griffin.
Late in the fourth quarter, Griffin scrambled for a 13-yard run. He was hit hard by Haloti Ngata as his body helicoptered and injured his right knee. The blow ruined his otherwise stellar rookie season. The way the Redskins run the read-option is different. It makes Griffin more vulnerable to hits while Kaepernick isn't.
“We did a pretty good job in that game once we got our feet on the ground against RGIII,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They took the first drives down there, but once we had a feel for the offense, I thought we did OK. It’s a similar offense, obviously, style-wise, but it’s not the same offense by any stretch. So, it’s hard to compare those two games.”