By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Two former Baylor standout quarterbacks got their opportunity to return the starting lineup for their respective NFL teams on Sunday.
Robert Griffin III, who threw for more than 10,000 yards at Baylor from 2008-2011 and won the Heisman Trophy in 2011, returned to the lineup for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday against its Ohio rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Griffin had been absent from the lineup since suffering a shoulder injury in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener on Sept. 11.
Unfortunately for Browns fans and members of the Baylor faithful that have followed Griffin’s career, Sunday’s return did not spark enough life in the offense to bring the Browns their first win of the season, as Cleveland fell 23-10 and dropped to 0-13.
“It felt good. When you don’t play a game for three months and come back, you can be a little bit rusty. There are some things, just routine things that I could have hit and done a better job of. When that does happen, you have a decision to make. You can either fold or fight through it. I’m happy with how I fought through it,” said Griffin III at his post-game press conference. “The guys helped me get through some of that. We just have to find ways to start fast and finish strong. I felt like we did a good job of coming out in the second half and putting points on that board and giving ourselves a chance to win the game. We can’t dig ourselves into a hole like that to have to claw out of it.”
Griffin struggled to find any kind of rhythm from the pocket. He completed just 12 of 28 passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns. He was also intercepted once and sacked three times by the Bengals’ defense. However, his legs did serve as an asset for the Browns, as he rushed for 31 yards on seven attempts and scored the Browns lone touchdown.
“I thought he had good poise. I didn’t feel like it was too big for him,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson said after the game. “Obviously, there are some plays that we wish we had back and he will wish that he had back. That is Robert’s [second] game where he has been really been out there playing in two years. Like I said the other day, if things go great, good. If they do not go as good, that is OK, too. We have to grow from it. He will grow from it and continue to get better.”
Griffin and the Browns remain searching for their first win as they travel to Buffalo, NY. on Dec. 18 to take on the Bills. Kickoff is slated for 11:00am CT.
The other former Bears quarterback that found himself in the thick of the NFL action on Sunday, is Jets quarterback Bryce Petty.
Petty was at Baylor from 2011-2014 and starred for the Bears under center during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, where he led Baylor to berths in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Cotton Bowl Classic.
Petty has seen action several times this season in a replacement role for struggling quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He did start on Nov. 13 against the Rams, a 9-6 loss for the Jets. Despite the loss, head coach Todd Bowles announced on Dec. 6 that Petty would be the Jets starter for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Petty got off to a slow start against the 49ers, as the first pass he threw on Sunday was intercepted. However, he helped erase a 17-3 halftime deficit and led the Jets to a 23-17 win in OT. Petty completed 23 of his 35 passes for 257 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
“I felt pretty good all week. Had good practices all week and then for whatever reason, just had to settle down,” Petty said at his post-game press conference. “Hats off to the team for just sticking with me and we just kept fighting and plugging away. The end result is a win and that is all we care about.”
Despite not having a touchdown pass, Petty converted the two point conversion that would later set up the game-tying field goal by 10th year placekicker Nick Folk.
Petty and the Jets will be back in action 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 when they will host the Miami Dolphins.