In light of what appears to be the unbelievable end to Robert Griffin III’s flash of a career in Washington, let’s be thankful for what he provided on Thanksgiving two years ago. For a lifelong fan like me, it was my favorite RG3 day and one of the most satisfying Redskin days of the last 20 years.
The backdrop for that game was a combination of misery and hope. The misery was wrapped up in memories. Memories of Clint Longley, Emmitt Smith, and a zero for 6 Thanksgiving Day record in Dallas. The hope was reflected in a quarterback rookie sensation. Robert Griffin III had electrified us all season with unforgettable performances against the Saints, Bucs, Vikings, and Giants. The team was 4 and 6 and the playoffs were a distant dream but Griffin gave Skins’ fans hope that Thanksgiving in Dallas might be different this time.
The game started slowly for Griffin. He went 2 for 5 with a sack and two punts in the 1st quarter. Then came the 2nd quarter.
Down 3-zip with a 1st & 15 on their own 32, Griffin went play-action and threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson…7-3 Skins.
The next drive included a 19-yard completion to Garcon and a deep shot to the end zone that drew a pass interference penalty. Alfred Morris scored from the 1 and it was 14-3 Skins.
With the ball near midfield on their next drive, Griffin threw a 59-yard catch and run to Garcon and the lead grew to 21-3.
After a D-Hall interception, Griffin threw a 2nd & 10 ball to Josh Morgan for 11 and then a perfect back-shoulder TD throw to Santana Moss with :05 seconds left. It was 28-3 at the break and damn if the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy didn’t taste better than they should have.
Dallas did their best to fight their way back but with the Skins still up 28-13, RG3 kept the ball on two read-option plays for 19 yards before throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Niles Paul. It was his 4th touchdown pass of the day and it gave the Skins what seemed to be a commanding 35-13 lead.
Dallas didn’t quit. Afterall, beating the Redskins on Thanksgiving was supposed to be a given. Tony Romo warmed up and the Cowboys roared back to within a touchdown at 35-28 with 8:18 left. With the crowd amped up and Redskins on the verge of blowing it, Griffin led the team calmly on an 11-play clock-killing drive that ended in a game-clinching Kai Forbath field goal with 2:58 left in the game.
Griffin made two key throws to Santana Moss on the drive. The first was a 23-yarder on 2nd & 11 from their own 19 and the next one was a monster 3rd & 2 throw to Moss running a 4 yard curl.
RG3 said about that final drive, “I told the guys that was probably the drive that saved our season. 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.”
Mike Shanahan said about Griffin on that drive, “he’s kind of like ‘Cool Hand Luke, he doesn’t get too upset about anything.”
Griffin finished 19-27 for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. He ran for another 29 yards on 7 carries. Dallas coach Jason Garrett said afterwards, “that quarterback is obviously a very good player, and they use him well. It was challenging for us to slow those guys down.”
Two years later in the midst of another Redskin mess, we’ll always have RG3 on Thanksgiving, 2012.