It’s an annual Thanksgiving game in Dallas Thursday, and this time around it’s two old foes in the Redskins and Cowboys doing battle in Big D.
The Cowboys escaped after being down 13-0 last week at half to the Browns, and are seeking a third consecutive victory overall and a seventh in eight meetings with the Redskins.
Dallas sits at 5-5, getting up to a game of NFC East-leading New York after Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory over Cleveland.
Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, though, certainly made things difficult on the Cowboys, who trailed at half and needed Dan Bailey’s 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of regulation to send the game into OT.
“We are going to enjoy this one for another 10 minutes or so and then get on to the Redskins,” coach Jason Garrett said afterward.
Garrett knows his team faces quite a challenge in trying to slow down Redskins star rookie QB Robert Griffin III, who will play his first NFL game in his home state.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and former Baylor standout was nearly perfect Sunday, completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a 31-6 rout of the Eagles, adding 12 carries for another 84 yards on the ground.
“(The Redskins) are certainly playing different offensive football than they’ve played in the past because of RG3 being their quarterback,” Garrett told the Cowboys’ official website. “We certainly have to do our best to get on top of what they’re trying to get done. They’ve certainly been very impressive at different times and they do a variety of things, and we’ve got to make sure we can contain him.”
Griffin, who ranks fifth in the league with a 101.0 passer rating, leads all quarterbacks with 613 rushing yards and six rushing TDs.
“I’m tired of talking about Robert,” said Santana Moss, whose only reception Sunday went for a 61-yard score. “Nothing’s going to change; Robert’s going to go out there and be special. That’s the gift that he has, he’s a special guy. He brings that kind of ‘specialness.’ I don’t know if that’s a word, but he brings it to our offense.”
Another impressive display from Griffin could help Washington (4-6), which has dropped three straight to Dallas by a combined eight points, break through. A win Thursday would move the Redskins into a second-place tie with the Cowboys.
“If we had lost (Sunday), we’re going into (this) week with a whole different mindset of, hey, ‘spoiler’ – maybe fight to see if the stars align just right,” Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “But now we have a legitimate shot with the way this division is right now. There’s definitely a belief right now.”
Though Washington surrendered its lowest yardage total of the season (257) against the Eagles, it’s still giving up an average of 383.8 to rank 26th in the league.
Already without defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, things could get more difficult after safety Brandon Meriweather suffered a season-ending torn right ACL last weekend. The two-time Pro Bowler was making his season debut after missing the first nine games with sprained ligaments in his other knee. He had an interception and two pass deflections before exiting.
London Fletcher, meanwhile, is uncertain to be available due to a sprained ankle. The veteran linebacker has played in all 234 games during his 15-year career.
“Knowing London, he’ll be back if possible,” coach Mike Shanahan said.
The key in this one will be if the Cowboys can slow down Griffin and the Redskins offense. Washington should be able to keep Romo and his mates in check, and they need to stay away from big mistakes.
Dallas does have fun playing on Thanksgiving, and seem to get up for the game. Look for Romo to use a little Turkey magic, and for the Cowboys to do just enough to snag a big win.
Dallas 20 Washington 17