LANDOVER, Md (WUSA) -- A little more than two hours following the Redskins 45-41 victory over the Chicago Bears, the parking lot at Fed Ex Field was still stewing with animated burgundy and gold faithful.
Expensive cigars were being puffed. Shots of fireball were being downed. Dozens of kids were gleefully imitating Robert Griffin III scrambling. Hundreds remained outside the Redskins tunnel exit, hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite player.
One particular feeling was glowing amongst the thousands of people who chose to bask in the victory: optimism.
It starts with the franchise, Robert Griffin III. Although slightly less accurate and not quite up to his superhuman standards, RGIII is back. Knee brace be damned, Griffin slapped Chicago's defense in the face on the second play of the game, bolting for 23-yards up the sideline -- kind of reminiscent of his iconic 2012 Vikings run. You can debate about the longevity of Griffin's health when he rushes for 84 yards on 11 carries (I thought he terrifically got out of bounds in most cases) but you can't argue that it isn't effective. The first run was a subtle but game changing play.
Griffin prancing around the field puts linebackers, safeties and defensive ends into over-thinking mode -- a mental state Griffin knows all too well. RGIII forced himself not to run early in the season, for an army of reasons, which impacted everything he was doing as a quarterback. Reads, timing, foot work were all unnatural. Now, he's a free bird, and the NFL needs to watch out for number 10 and his two compadres in the backfield.
The Redskins running game is a well-oiled machine. As we saw against the Bears, Griffin is only the engine. Alfred Morris is the body of the car, willing to smash through brick walls for any extra yardage. Roy Helu is the steering wheel and accelerator, capable of making defenders miss and bursting up the field. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called a brilliant game, mixing in the no huddle at appropriate times. But getting all three of these unique runners their touches keyed the Redskins win.
Washington's run game indirectly set up the biggest play of the game. As lucky as the touchdown was, how do you think Aldrick Robinson was able to separate himself from two Bears defenders? If you watch the replay, Charles Tillman's eyes are locked onto RGIII for the first 25-yards of Robinson's route. Tillman was never able to fully shift his focus back onto the receiver.
Hope for meaningful Redskins games late in the season extends elsewhere on the roster.
Rookie Jordan Reed looked like a miniature Tony Gonzalez against Chicago. He's typically the last player off the practice field in Ashburn and his dedication to outwork Fred Davis has been rewarded. Upcoming opponents have to treat him like a pro bowler when they game plan, or they'll pay for it.
DeAngelo Hall may be having the best season of his career. He's made key third down deflections in the last four games and was clearly in Jay Cutler's head before the Bears quarterback was knocked out with a groin injury. It's evident a pay cut has humbled the once overly confident Hall.
Trent Williams is a shoe-in for the pro bowl. Was Julius Peppers on the field Sunday? I asked that to the left tackle as we walked out of the stadium Sunday and he said "Not really," with a smile.
And how about Brian Orakpo? I've been one of his biggest critics for the lack of impact plays he produces. Sunday Orakpo "was trying to get his Ryan Kerrigan on," and he did so, scoring the first touchdown of his entire life. When contract extensions talks begin this offseason, all Orakpo's agent has to do is pull up film of this game. He was everywhere.
The 2-4 Redskins are miles away from what an NFL contending team smells like. The secondary was torched by a backup quarterback most people had never heard of. The special teams unit might be the worst in NFL history. Big passing plays down are how teams win playoff games now, and the Redskins can't consistently reel those off yet.
But for now, at least for one week, Redskins fans won't be dreading the game against the Denver Broncos. Some kool-aid sippers will even present you with this case: wouldn't it be ironic for Peyton Manning to lose back-to-back games to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III? Sort of like a passing of the torch.
Even though times aren't rosy right now, Redskins fans were reminded against the Bears why there is a tombstone that reads RIP Redskins: 1993-2011. This era is Robert Griffin III's and he'll do his best to ensure it isn't a failure.