RG3 sparkling, steady as ‘Skins top Cowboys, 38-31

Robert Griffin III will always be RG3. That didn’t stop
Washington coach Mike Shanahan from trying something a little
different after his rookie quarterback was equal parts sparkling
and steady in his Texas debut.

”He’s kind of like `Cool Hand Luke,”’ Shanahan said. ”He
doesn’t get too upset about anything.”

The Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor threw for three touchdowns
in a dazzling second quarter, then calmly quelled a Dallas rally
reminiscent of a comeback that made Cowboys vs. Redskins on
Thanksgiving famous, leading Washington to a 38-31 victory
Thursday.

Griffin told anyone who asked he didn’t think his first pro game
in his home state on Thanksgiving would overwhelm him. He wasn’t
kidding.

”I knew I had that feeling that I was back home where I had
spent so many years, but it didn’t drive me through the roof
emotionally as far as getting charged up for the game,” said
Griffin, who grew up a Denver Broncos fan in Central Texas. ”It
was a normal game, even though it was a Thanksgiving Day
game.”

Griffin finished with 311 passing yards and four TDs, and made
Dallas look like an overmatched college team in building a 28-3
halftime lead thanks to a 28-point second quarter, the first for
the Redskins (5-6) in 13 years.

After Tony Romo threw the longest touchdown of his career – an
85-yarder to Dez Bryant late in the third quarter – Griffin
answered by becoming the first Redskins quarterback with four TD
tosses in consecutive games.

When the Cowboys (5-6) got within a touchdown and really had
people thinking back to Clint Longley’s miracle TD to Drew Pearson
in the final seconds of a one-point Dallas victory over Washington
on Thanksgiving in 1974, Griffin calmly led the Redskins on a
clock-killing drive to a field goal for a 38-28 lead.

”Really, I have to almost pinch myself to realize that he was
out there playing against Texas Tech about a year ago, and here he
is really doing a number on us,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in
referring to a Baylor win at Cowboys Stadium in which Griffin
played just half the game because of concussion-like symptoms. ”I
was in awe of RG3, and the plays that he was making.”

Romo lost for the first time in six starts on Thanksgiving,
despite a career-high 441 yards and three second-half touchdowns.
After the long TD to Bryant, who matched his career high from last
week with 145 yards receiving, Romo threw a TD to Felix Jones, ran
in the 2-point conversion and threw another scoring pass to Bryant
to help Dallas close to 35-28 with 8:24 remaining.

”I thought we had a good chance,” said Romo, who tied a career
high with 62 pass attempts.

Griffin, who threw just his fourth interception the previous
possession, responded by completing three passes for first downs –
including a third-and-1 near midfield – and the Redskins ran nearly
5 1/2 minutes off the clock before Kai Forbath’s 48-yard field goal
with 3:03 remaining.

”I told the guys that that was probably the drive that saved
our season,” Griffin said. ”You have a huge lead, 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 get in field goal range.”

Dallas drove to a field goal with 23 seconds left, but DeAngelo
Hall easily picked up the onside kick and ran untouched before
sliding down short of the goal line, clinching Romo’s third loss in
three career 400-yard games. It also was the Cowboys’ first loss to
the Redskins in seven games on Thanksgiving.

”That quarterback is obviously a very good player, and they use
him well,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ”We didn’t do enough
offensively to keep up with them in the first half.”

The Cowboys actually contained Griffin in the first quarter,
getting a sack and forcing an intentional grounding penalty that
gave them good enough field position for an easy drive to a 3-0
lead.

Everything changed on Griffin’s first big NFL play in Texas. He
hit Aldrick Robinson in stride for a 68-yard touchdown and a 7-3
lead. Griffin’s next big throw wasn’t nearly as accurate, but
Pierre Garcon somehow came down with it and outran the Dallas
defense the final 45 yards on a 59-yard score for a 21-3 lead.

”As Pierre is running on his long touchdown, and I was like,
`Man, that was a great catch.”’ Griffin said. ”I had to throw it
to only that spot, and you don’t see many guys make catches like
that.”

Romo’s first interception in four games gave the Redskins a
chance to get one more score before halftime when Hall returned it
to the Dallas 33 with 30 seconds left. Out of timeouts at the
Dallas 6 with 10 seconds left, the Redskins trusted Griffin to try
to get a touchdown, and Santana Moss kept both feet in while
falling out of bounds for a 28-3 lead with 5 seconds left.

Griffin completed 12 straight passes from the middle of the
first quarter to the middle of the third and finished 20 of 28.

It was hard to tell from his final numbers, but the Cowboys did
manage to put some pressure on Griffin. They sacked him four times,
forced him to sprint out of the pocket a number of times and
delivered hard hits after several throws.

The Dallas offense, playing most of the game without Miles
Austin after he injured a hip early, never could answer in the
decisive second quarter. The Cowboys had only two first downs while
the Redskins were scoring four touchdowns.

Alfred Morris had 113 yards on 24 carries and one of
Washington’s second-quarter scores.

NOTES: Redskins LB London Fletcher, who also had an
interception, extended his consecutive games streak to 235 and made
his 190th straight start. He left the game later after re-injuring
the ankle that put his streak in jeopardy. … The Cowboys had
three injured defenders that didn’t return: LB Bruce Carter
(elbow), DE Jason Hatcher (concussion-like symptoms) and DB Orlando
Scandrick (hand/wrist).

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