4:25 PM ET, November 22, 2012
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
The Dallas Cowboys pulled out a narrow win last weekend despite struggling to contain a couple of formidable rookies.
They figure to have their hands full again with Robert Griffin III coming to town.
The Cowboys, seeking a third consecutive victory overall and a seventh in eight meetings with the Washington Redskins, try to hold Griffin in check during this Thanksgiving showdown.
One week after beating Philadelphia 38-23, Dallas (5-5) climbed to within one game of NFC East-leading New York with Sunday's 23-20 overtime victory over Cleveland. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, though, certainly made things difficult on the Cowboys, who trailed 13-0 at halftime 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 Griffin, 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.
Washington's depleted defensive unit could catch a break if Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith can't play. The No. 9 overall pick in last year's draft didn't practice Tuesday after suffering a high left ankle sprain against the Browns. Dallas could also be without centers Ryan Cook and Phil Costa.
While those offensive line issues contributed to Tony Romo being sacked a career-high seven times Sunday, the Cowboys may need to lean on their quarterback all the more with DeMarco Murray (foot) likely to miss a sixth straight game and Felix Jones (knee) banged up.
Aside from the sacks, Romo fared well against the Browns, completing 35 of 50 passes for 313 yards -- including a 28-yard scoring strike to Dez Bryant, who hauled in 12 receptions for a career-high 145 yards.
Romo was picked off 13 times over his first seven games but has no interceptions in his last three. He's compiled an 8-1 record over his last nine November games while throwing 17 TDs and just three picks.
Dallas has gone 28-15-1 all-time on Thanksgiving, winning five of its last six. The Cowboys have taken all six Thanksgiving matchups against Washington.
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• Make Dallas one-dimensional: The Cowboys struggle to win games without a balanced offensive attack. Dallas has been banged up in the backfield (running back DeMarco Murray is doubtful) and along the offensive line, and the Cowboys should struggle running the ball. On the flip side, Washington's defense is stronger against the run than the pass. The Redskins will look to stymie the run on early downs in order to give defensive coordinator Jim Haslett the opportunity to take more chances with man- and zone-blitz packages to force an inconsistent Cowboys offense into turnovers.
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|Avg Points Allowed||25.9||23.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||WSH|
|Rush Yds Allowed||WSH|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Dallas leads 15-9|
|Nov 20, 2011||WSH 24, DAL 27|
|Sep 26, 2011||WSH 16, @DAL 18|
|Dec 19, 2010||WSH 30, @DAL 33|
|Sep 12, 2010||WSH 13, DAL 7|
|Dec 27, 2009||WSH 0, DAL 17|
|Nov 22, 2009||WSH 6, @DAL 7|
|Nov 16, 2008||WSH 10, DAL 14|
|Sep 28, 2008||WSH 26, @DAL 24|
|Dec 30, 2007||WSH 27, DAL 6|
|Nov 18, 2007||WSH 23, @DAL 28|
|Nov 5, 2006||WSH 22, DAL 19|
|Sep 17, 2006||WSH 10, @DAL 27|
|Dec 18, 2005||WSH 35, DAL 7|
|Sep 19, 2005||WSH 14, @DAL 13|
|Dec 26, 2004||WSH 10, @DAL 13|
|Sep 27, 2004||WSH 18, DAL 21|
|Dec 14, 2003||WSH 0, DAL 27|
|Nov 2, 2003||WSH 14, @DAL 21|
|Dec 29, 2002||WSH 20, DAL 14|
|Nov 28, 2002||WSH 20, @DAL 27|
|Dec 2, 2001||WSH 14, DAL 20|
|Oct 15, 2001||WSH 7, @DAL 9|
From Elias: For the 14th time since 1963, the Cowboys will play a game on November 22nd, which is the anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. They are 8-5 on that date including 4-1 vs the Redskins and 3-0 vs them at home since 1963.
Tony Romo has completed 35.1 percent of his throws more than 10 yards downfield at home this season, compared with 58.6 percent on the road (second-highest in league). Romo had completed at least half of those passes at home in each of the last three seasons since Cowboys Stadium opened at the start of 2009.[+]
Tony Romo Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield - Last 4 Seasons At Home
Robert Griffin III has the best Total QBR facing five or more pass rushers this season (97.6), but faces a Cowboys defense that has allowed the third-lowest QBR when using such pressure (19.4). The Cowboys have sent five or more only 23.5 percent of the time this season (league avg: 29.3 percent), the first time they've been below league average in the last five years.[+]
Passing with 5 or More Rushers - This Season
Tony Romo is 14-0 all-time at home in the month of November. According to Elias that is tied for the most home wins ever by a starting QB in any month without a loss. Frank Ryan - who started games for the Rams and Browns in the 1950s and 1960s - also won 14 home games in November without suffering a loss (although he did have a tie).[+]
Week 12 is make or break time for 3 teams this weekend as the Saints, Cowboys and Bengals all enter at 5-5. Under the current playoff format, teams that are 6-5 through 11 games are nearly 3 times more likely to make the playoffs than 5-6 teams.[+]
Chances To Make Postseason By W-L - Under Current Playoff Format (Since 1990)
ESPN Stats & Information