Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/9/12

NEW ORLEANS -- So much for that steep learning curve.

Showcasing his amazing athletic package of speed and accuracy, Robert Griffin III toyed with a dazed New Orleans Saints defense to power the Washington Redskins to a 40-32 victory Sunday in a spectacular NFL debut at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Griffin completed 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and he burned the Saints for an 88-yard touchdown strike to Pierre Garcon in the first quarter for the first touchdown pass of his career that gave the Redskins the lead for good, 10-7.

Griffin's 139.9 QB rating was a record for NFL rookies in their first start. As he stood at the podium in the interview area after the game, Griffin beamed as he held the ball Garcon gave him from the 88-yard score. He had thoroughly impressed his veteran teammates.

"I'm still a rookie to them, but after the game, they said I'm not a rookie anymore," Griffin said.

Even Drew Brees, who struggled trying to bring the Saints back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, told Griffin when they met at midfield after the game that he was impressed by the rookie's performance.

"He told me he was proud of me," Griffin said. "That's big for him to say after they just lost the game. I respect him for that. That's definitely No. 1 on my list."

Of all the plays Griffin made with his feet -- rolling out and then pulling up to fire a bullet across the field with accuracy -- Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he was most impressed with the way in which Griffin didn't seem awed by playing in a raucous, sold-out Superdome, where the Saints were 8-0 last season and beat opponents by an average of 23 points.

"I just liked the way he handled himself," Shanahan said.

Except for a kneel-down at the end of the first half, Griffin led the Redskins to scores on seven of Washington's first eight possessions.

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan decided to ease Griffin in on his first NFL series, calling for a series of quick hitches to allow the rookie to settle in. Not that he needed it. Griffin completed all six passes for 35 yards, and Billy Cundiff's 37-yard field goal put Washington up 3-0. Cundiff had four field goals on the day, the others coming from 41, 37 and 45 yards.

Brees answered with a gorgeous 20-yard TD strike over the middle to tight end Jimmy Graham that put the Saints up 7-3, but that lead lasted only 21 seconds.

With first down on the Washington 12, Griffin saw a corner blitz and looked for his hot read, who was covered, and then came back over the middle to Garcon. Safety Roman Harper was out of position on the crossing pattern, giving Garcon the freedom to motor the length of the field.

After another Saints' three-and-out, Griffin took the Redskins 57 yards on 12 plays to widen the lead to 17-7. Griffin flashed his dual-threat nature on the big play of the drive, rolling left and then throwing back across the field for a 26-yard completion to wide open tight end Fred Davis. The scoring pass was an easy five-yard flip to Aldrick Robinson.

Griffin made another big play with his feet on the Redskins' next possession, rolling left and throwing a 27-yard bullet to Santana Moss on third-and-6. That led to a 41-yard field goal by Cundiff and a 20-7 lead.

Brees, who was forced into an every-down pass mode and completed only 24-of-52 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, said he did not consider the Saints' head coaching carousel to have had an impact on the game. Aaron Kromer lost his first game as the Saints' interim "interim" head coach.

Brees isn't panicking.

"We lost the first game of the year last year and finished 13-3," Brees said. "It's disappointing because this was our home opener. We did all the things that prevent you from winning football games -- turnovers, penalties, and that cost us drive and kept our defense out on the field."

Notes: Brees' 20-yard touchdown strike to Graham in the first quarter gave him a TD pass in 44 consecutive regular-season games, three shy of Johnny Unites' all-time NFL record. ... Griffin's parents are New Orleans natives, and Griffin had about 50 extended family members in the Superdome, which was about a 12-minute walk from his relative's former home. ... Garcon left the game shortly after his 88-yard TD catch with a foot injury.

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