ASHBURN, Va. — Late in the third quarter of Robert Griffin III’s NFL debut, Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg grabbed the rookie quarterback on the sideline and made a request.
“I know we’re rolling right now, but keep it up,” Sundberg said he told Griffin. “Because I don’t want to go out there for another punt.”
This wasn’t a teammate simply urging the offense to score more points. Sundberg was in pain.
It’ll go down as the other remarkable performance in RG3’s stellar first game. Sundberg broke his left arm in the first half and continued to play — snapping the ball four times for punts, twice for field goals and twice for extra points in the second half of Washington’s 40-32 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“We’ve got a story to tell to our kids and our grandkids, how we played with a guy who played a whole game with a broken arm,” defensive tackle Barry Cofield said Monday. “I’m going to remember both. RG3’s going to come first, obviously, because that’s what they’re going to ask me about, but when my grandson scrapes his knee, I’ll tell him about the guy who played with a broken arm.”
Sundberg has been fitted with a cast that’s bulky and restrictive, so he won’t be able to play again for at least a few weeks. The Redskins will audition replacements Tuesday and will have to decide whether to keep the third-year veteran on the active roster or put him on injured reserve.
Sundberg was hurt when his arm was squeezed between a helmet and a facemask during the punt that was blocked by the Saints and returned for a touchdown. He knew immediately what had happened because he broke the same bone in high school. The doctors on the sideline kept urging him to get an X-ray, but Sundberg instead kept asking for something to ease the pain so he could keep playing.
“I think at the end of the day you’ve got to look at yourself and see what you’re made of,” Sundberg said. “It was terrible, but I felt like I really didn’t have another option.”
Sundberg said he got hit on the broken arm a few more times during the game. Yes, it hurt.
“It’s one of those things you’ve kind of got to keep telling yourself it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt,” he said. “At some point, you convince yourself: There’s only a few more minutes left, only a couple more snaps, I can get through it, I can get through it.”
Then came that conversation with Griffin in the third quarter, which naturally caught the rookie off guard.
“He was like, ‘What do you mean?’” Sundberg said. “Dude, my arm hurts so bad, and it hurts so much worse to throw punt snaps. I was like, ‘Don’t make us punt again.’ Then we kind of laughed about it, and I was like: ‘I’m serious.’ He’s like, ‘Oh.’ No pressure rookie, but I don’t want to punt again.”