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Robert Griffin III Excels In Return Home In Redskins’ Victory Over Cowboys

By ZAC BOYER | @ZacBoyer

ARLINGTON, Texas – With the spotlight again shining at its brightest, leave it to Robert Griffin III to rise to the occasion.

Griffin III

Playing in his home state for the first time as a professional, the rookie quarterback helped the Washington Redskins claim their first Thanksgiving victory in nearly four decades in a 38-31 romp over the Dallas Cowboys before 90,166 at Cowboys Stadium.

It was a seminal victory for the Redskins (5-6), who equaled their win total from last season. And, depending on the outcome of the New York Giants’ game against Green Bay on Sunday night, they may have the opportunity to play for first place in the NFC East in a Monday night game against the Giants on Dec. 3.

Washington scored 28 points in the second quarter, and answered the Cowboys’ gradual whittling away at the deficit with an 11-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a 48-yard field goal by Kai Forbath.

“I told the guys it was probably the drive that saved our season,” said Griffin, who finished 20-for-28 for 311 yards, threw four touchdown passes and ran six times for 29 yards. “You have a huge lead and the other team’s roaring back. They have all the momentum, and then you go out there and you convert third down after third down after third down and you get in field goal range … it showed a lot of poise of all the guys on the team to just have that resolve of, ‘Who cares what they just did? We’re gonna go get points and we’re gonna end this game.”

Dallas (5-6), which has annually hosted a Thanksgiving game since 1966, had not lost such a contest in the five previous seasons Tony Romo has been the Cowboys’ starting quarterback.

Romo, in fact, had not lost any of the previous 14 games he had played at home in November, but that streak unraveled Thursday as he was inconsistent and inaccurate early on.

The Redskins intercepted Romo twice – once in the second quarter, once in the third – and were able to take a 28-3 halftime lead mostly because of the Cowboys’ errors. Romo finished 37-for-62 for 441 yards, with 334 coming in the second half.

Griffin found Aldrick Robinson, who grew up in suburban Dallas and played in college at SMU, for a 68-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter that was reminiscent of his wide-open grab against Philadelphia on Sunday.

It began a cascade of scoring for the Redskins, with Alfred Morris running one yard for a touchdown, Pierre Garçon scoring on a 59-yard reception and Santana Moss delivering one last blow before halftime with a six-yard grab.

“We were feeling good, because this was the way we should have been playing all year,” said Morris, who ran for 113 yards on 24 carries. “At the same time, we wanted to stay focused because we had to finish the game. The game wasn’t over.”

The Cowboys emphatically began chipping away at the deficit in the third quarter, with Romo completing an 85-yard pass to Dez Bryant for a touchdown with 1:24 remaining. They then answered a touchdown from Niles Paul with a pair of touchdown passes – one to Felix Jones, then another to Bryant – to pull within seven with 8:18 remaining.

That’s when Griffin stepped up again. With family, friends and several other fans in attendance, including Art Briles, his head coach at Baylor, the quarterback helped piece together a backbreaking drive that culminated in Forbath’s field goal.

“He’s kind of like ‘Cool Hand Luke,’” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “He just handles himself and goes about his business.”

Not all went flawlessly for Griffin, who threw his first interception since Oct. 28 in the fourth quarter. But he did have a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating in the first half for the second consecutive game, and he became the first Redskins quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in consecutive games.

The Redskins, who entered 1-6 in Thanksgiving games and hadn’t won since defeating Detroit in 1973, will now have 10 days to prepare for the Giants – and a shot at reviving a season once considered lost.

“Being 3-6, the character of your team is tested,” Grifin said. “I experienced playing on some teams that had tough years, but it’s how they respond after those losses.

“Hey, we might have thought we could do it. Now we know we can do it – and it’s in our hands.”