IRVING, Texas – Robert Griffin III, the Texas-bred quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, comes to his home state for the first time as a pro for the most traditional of Thanksgiving rivalries — Cowboys vs. Redskins.
Hold on a minute with all that drama and emotion building for Thursday’s game. The Washington rookie grew up in central Texas rooting for the Denver Broncos.
“It’s one game,” Griffin said. “We’ve got the Dallas Cowboys and that’s what I’m going to play like.”
Hold on another minute before deciding he’s completely blowing off the pretty cool idea that he’s coming home for a big game on a unique stage. He gets it.
“It will be fun. I’ll see a lot of familiar faces,” Griffin said. “It’s Cowboys-Redskins or Redskins-Cowboys, whatever way you want to put it. Me being a Texas kid, I know how big the rivalry is and I get my fair shot at it.”
Griffin has practical reasons for approaching Thursday’s game as one Washington needs to win. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo does, too.
The Redskins (4-6) kept themselves in the playoff conversation by coming off the bye with a 31-6 blowout of Philadelphia, sparked by 14 of 15 passing and four touchdowns from Griffin. A win puts the Cowboys (5-5) a half-game behind the New York Giants in the NFC East five days after they risked ruining their season against last-place Cleveland before winning 23-20 in overtime.
“It started for us two weeks back,” Romo said. “We’ve been putting our head down and grinding, going forward and trying to put together win after win.”
The Cowboys have played the Redskins more than any other team in their annual Thanksgiving home game, and Dallas has won all six previous meetings. The Cowboys also are trying to win their fourth straight against Washington, which would be the longest streak in eight years.
But the Redskins haven’t brought a quarterback like Griffin into this game in a long time. Statistically, he’s ahead of the other four rookies who began the season as starters, and he’s right there with most of the veterans. He’s one of the six quarterbacks with a rating of at least 100, completing 67 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The Redskins lost 6 of 8 after Griffin’s remarkable debut in a win at New Orleans, so maybe it was easy to forget about him. He sort of reminded everyone by picking apart the Eagles.
“You can’t go into a game worried about this guy scrambling because it will slow you up and put you in a worse situation than just trying to go after him,” said Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears. “Obviously we have to have awareness of where he is and where he can escape.”
PACKERS: Receiver Greg Jennings returned to practice for the first time since having surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.
CARDINALS: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said rookie Ryan Lindley will start at quarterback Sunday against St. Louis.
• Arizona activated running back Beanie Wells from the NFL’s new injured/designated to return list, clearing the way for him to play Sunday against St. Louis.
BROWNS: Safety T.J. Ward appealed a $25,000 fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday at Dallas, and said the NFL rules on vicious hits need to be changed.
• Cornerback Joe Haden returned to practice and may play against Pittsburgh after missing last week’s game with an oblique injury.
PAUL TAGLIABUE, the former commissioner, plans to complete all hearings in the bounty probe by Dec. 4 and make a ruling shortly after.
COWBOYS: Running back DeMarco Murray is likely to miss his sixth straight game Thursday against Washington with a sprained foot, and receiver Kevin Ogletree is out with a concussion.
BRONCOS: Running back Willis McGahee was placed on recallable injured reserve.
EAGLES: Quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy aren’t practicing because of concussions and their status for the Monday night game against Carolina is uncertain.
CHIEFS: Quarterback Brady Quinn will start Sunday’s game against Denver, regaining the job he lost when he sustained a concussion against Oakland.
BILLS: Running back Fred Jackson was cleared to play at Indianapolis this weekend after passing a series of NFL-mandated concussion tests.
JAGUARS: Jacksonville placed quarterback Blaine Gabbert and receiver Laurent Robinson on injured reserve, ending their season.