Robert Griffin III Ran Even Faster Than You Thought On That Long Touchdown Run
Robert Griffin III is fast. You knew that because of the Olympic-level hurdling skills, his rushing for over 2,200 yards and 33 touchdowns during his Baylor career, and his 4.4ish 40 time at the draft combine. In a league full of exceptionally fast humans, RGIII is among the fastest. And once he did this yesterday:
...any doubt was eliminated. He outran an NFL defense - a defense that was playing quite well going into yesterday's game, at that - for 76 yards. One of the longest TD runs by a quarterback of all time, and the longest since 1996. Whether you base it on pure straight-line speed or what he does in games, RGIII is about as fast as it gets.
So how fast is RGIII fast, exactly? A few people tried to figure that out, by measuring how quickly he completed the final 40 yards of his run against the Vikings. A quick stopwatch-ing of the run by CBS' Will Brinson yielded a time of anywhere between 4.3 and 4.4 seconds, while the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin came away with an even more impressive measurement of 4.08. Conservatively, let's use the slowest of those three times - 4.4 seconds. As Brinson notes, the time is artificially sped up relative to a 40-yard dash one might run at a combine because Griffin had a running start here.
But as Brinson also notes, think of what RGIII has working against him here. He's in full pads, for one. For another, he looks back at Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford, who unsuccessfully tried to chase him down, several times near the end of the run. That slowed him down too - indeed, especially near the end of the run, he doesn't even look like he's running all-out (probably owing largely to the "looking back" thing). Granted, that might be more a function of an easy, fluid striding motion than actually not running as fast as he could, but... judge for yourself.
So. Embarrassing confession time. How did we - OK, fine, how did I - come to actually underestimate just how fast RGIII is?
Maybe it's that while his rushing totals at Baylor were impressive, they weren't astronomical. 4.9 yards per attempt in 2008, 4.3 in 2010, 3.9 last year - these are still good numbers, and one has to keep in mind that college rushing totals for quarterbacks include yardage lost on sacks, but this wasn't quite Cam Newton's 1,473-yard thrashing of the SEC in 2010, or Denard Robinson putting up 1,700 yards on the ground that same year. RGIII played in a much more pass-happy offense at Baylor, another factor that can't be ignored, but the likes of Newton and Robinson were averaging more yards per carry on more rushing attempts.
Maybe I should say it was Griffin's football speed I underestimated - yeah, he can run amazingly fast in a straight line and it clearly translated to some great in-game running, but was he on the same level as a running threat as Cam Newton, despite RGIII's faster 40 time? There's no doubt now. Not only did RGIII torch the Vikings in a way few NFL quarterbacks have ever torched an opposing defense, but it looked to me like he could have found yet another gear, had he really needed it.
But of course, he didn't. Running 40 yards in 4.4 or so seconds while essentially wearing a suit of armor is insanely fast even if it is the fastest you can possibly go. But like when Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds in Beijing, blew everyone else away, and was clearly capable of even more, we may yet see Griffin run away even faster from some helpless defender sometime in the future. Black Jesus? Not sure about that just yet, but if Griffin winds up feeding an entire FedEx Field crowd with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish anytime soon, at this point I wouldn't be totally shocked.
Getty photo, by Larry French
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