For the second straight game, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, allowing his team to put up more than 30 points on an NFC East opponent. Washington's 38-31 Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys was not nearly as convincing as last Sunday's 31-6 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles, but the 5-6 Redskins will take whatever they can get. Even in a division that nobody seems to want, the Redskins are in must-win mode through the rest of the season.
One wonders just where they'd be without their incandescent rookie quarterback, who keeps riddling defenses that should know better. Like the Eagles' defense, the Cowboys were consistently befuddled by Washington's backfield motion, read-option plays, and route concepts. And like the Eagles, the Cowboys were out of position to an embarrassing degree at times -- especially their safeties, who kept biting on the threat of Griffin's rushing ability and the specter of running back Alfred Morris, the fellow rookie who gained 113 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown of his own.
The Cowboys, who came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to beat the Cleveland Browns, 23-20, last week, tried to mount the same kind of furious comeback against Griffin's team. Down 28-3 at the half, Dallas managed to look great at times in the last 30 minutes of the game as Washington reverted to less pressure and more soft zone defense. With 1:24 left in the third quarter, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo hit receiver Dez Bryant for an 85-yard touchdown, closing the score to 28-13. After Griffin put the Redskins further up with a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Niles Paul with 12:48 left in the game, Romo answered with a touchdown pass to Felix Jones and another scoring throw to Bryant.
That put the Cowboys within a touchdown with enough time to make it a real challenge, but Washington proved able to slow the game down when necessary. Multiple running plays from Griffin and Morris kept the ball on the Redskins' side for 11 plays, 50 yards, and over five minutes. Kicker Kai Forbath made it a 38-28 game with three minutes left, and the Cowboys didn't have enough left in the tank to keep their comeback rolling. It took Dallas 13 plays to get within field goal range at the Washington 33-yard line, and Danny Bailey made a 51-yarder with 33 seconds left. Bailey's subsequent onside kick was unsuccessful. Griffin kneeled down once, and the Redskins had the game.
Before their bye, the Redskins had lost four of their last five games, and any playoff hoped seemed to evaporate. However, the week off certainly seemed to do them a world of good. The Cowboys, who were hoping to mount a late-season stand on a great defense and easy schedule down the stretch, found this setback particularly tough to take. They also stand at 5-6, but it's amazing how the same record can feel so differently when momentum carries the day.
Right now, it's on the side of the Redskins, and their amazing rookie quarterback.
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