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Robert Griffin III: 'It Was Tough For Me'

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The 10 Days with No. 10 series continues on Redskins Nation and Redskins.com, as Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III talks about the most difficult part of his rookie season, when he was sidelined in Weeks 14 and 15 with injury.

In his much-celebrated first season in the National Football League, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III rarely had the opportunity to experience disappointment.

The lone glaring exception was the knee injury suffered in Week 14 in a showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.

Both teams entered the game needing a victory: the Redskins, to continue an improbable win-streak to the playoffs, and the Ravens in search of a division-clinching 10th victory on the season.

Over the first 55 minutes of the contest, the two teams played a physical brand of football familiar to both franchises, setting the stage for a comeback finale for the ages.

It began with Robert Griffin III starting the drive deep in Redskins' territory, looking to erase the Ravens' eight-point lead.

Taking the snap at the 27-yard line, Griffin III escaped the blitz and raced up the left sideline, cutting back to the middle of the field.

Ravens 330-pound defensive lineman Haloti Ngata sprinted from the line of scrimmage, colliding with Griffin III near the 40-yard line.

Griffin III lay on the field after the play, grabbing at an injured right knee. He would return after several plays, but was forced to the sideline when the pain grew too severe.

"It was tough for me," he explained to Larry Michael of Redskins Nation. "One, because I had been protecting myself much better over the course of those games, sliding, getting out of bounds, throwing the ball. At that moment when we're trying to come back near the end of the game, I was trying to get down. I was sliding."

Replay revealed that Ngata made full-body contact with Griffin III, causing his right knee to whip and hyperextend, leaving him with a Grade 2 strain of the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

The ensuing media firestorm focused on the value of his mobility vs. his overall value to the team.

"It was just a tough situation for me because I felt like man I was protecting myself and I still got hurt," he said during the '10 Days With No. 10' series. "Many other people might not look at it that way, but that's what I felt in that moment.

"[In the future,] somebody like [Haloti Ngata] is going to come after you and all I can say is I just get down without my legs flaring up. I mean there's no other answer."

The Redskins went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens behind the gutsy play of rookies quarterback Kirk Cousins, punt returner Richard Crawford and kicker Kai Forbath.

After a week of speculation, head coach Mike Shanahan named Cousins the starter for the team's game in Cleveland. For Griffin III, it was hard to mask his disappointment.

"I was upset, but I mean I think as a player you're never going to be happy that you're not playing," he said in retrospect. "I worked really hard that whole week to make sure that I was suitable to play…but coach felt like it was a better and the doctors feel like it was a better idea that I sit out a game, and so you accept that. 

"I think as a player, you're supposed to want to play. I want to play and then at the end of the day they take your helmet and they take everything from you. You're not playing. That's why I had a beanie on with a jacket. I'm sitting there coaching. That's basically all I could do."

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