LANDOVER, Md. -- Robert Griffin III isn't the type of quarterback to run out of bounds, and Sean Weatherspoon knew it. The Atlanta Falcons linebacker kept up the pursuit, and his upper body rammed into the helmet of the rookie who doesn't shy from contact.
Griffin was down and done. A mild concussion, according to Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. On a day in which the Falcons' usually powerful offense was a bit out of sync, the defense had made a play that changed the game.
Matt Ryan went on to lead three scoring drives in the fourth quarter, scraping together enough points to give the Falcons their first 5-0 start in franchise history.
"I felt like he was still turning upfield, so I was just trying to make a play," Weatherspoon said. "Most quarterbacks would probably slide out of bounds or run out of bounds, but he's a tough guy."
The play turned a third-and-goal from the 3 to a fourth-and-goal from the 5 late in the third quarter. The Redskins then kicked a field goal to take a 10-7 lead, and Griffin's replacement, fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, managed one big play in his NFL debut, a 77-yard scoring pass to Santana Moss that put Washington ahead 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, the post-Griffin section of the game belonged to the Falcons. Julio Jones got both feet inbounds on an 18-yard catch. Matt Bryant stayed perfect on the year with a 53-yard field goal. Michael Turner ran 13 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:46 to play. The defense intercepted Cousins twice in the final two minutes.
The Falcons didn't score until the final minute of the first half, but Ryan kept throwing and throwing and throwing. He finished with 34 of 52 for 345 yards with two TDs and one interception.
Up next: Raiders at Falcons, noon Sunday; Vikings at Redskins, 3:25 p.m. Sunday