ARLINGTON, Texas – This is exactly what the Cowboys feared back in April.
As soon as Washington announced Robert Griffin III would be drafted with the No. 2 overall pick, immediate fears of the Heisman Trophy winner shredding the Cowboys' secondary with relative ease were born.
Those fears were a brutal reality for the Cowboys on Thursday.
RG3 ran. He threw. He threw some more. He scored. He scored some more. He did just about everything but serve the cranberries here at Cowboys Stadium as he simply put the Redskins on his back and willed his team to a 38-31 win over Dallas.
Griffin did his dirty work in the second quarter, ripping the Cowboys with a four-touchdown explosion, including three passing touchdowns.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
What a homecoming for Griffin, who grew up in Copperas Cove – about three hours from Dallas – and then starred at Baylor, just down the road in Waco. And all week long, he reiterated he was never a Cowboys fan. Grew up following the Broncos.
So this really wasn't personal for Griffin. It was business. And he was all business in putting a personalized show against the Cowboys here Thursday.
Now, the Cowboys, like they tend to do, made it interesting. And they even used the one mistake Griffin made – a fourth-quarter interception – to get back to within seven. But it's how RG3 handled himself on the following drive, when he led the offense to a few third-down pickups en route to a game-clinching field goal.
So, be honest and ask yourself this two-part question: What's really worse about this game? The fact the Cowboys were dominated here Thursday and went to 5-6 and probably wasted a chance to make a legitimate playoff run?
Or what about the fact that RG3 is just getting started? This is the first of what will be many, many battles with the Cowboys and what we saw here Thursday might just be the start of a decade full of games like that.
I know the circumstances are way different because the Cowboys never had a shot to get Griffin. (And truth be told, he wasn't the No. 2 player on their draft board after Andrew Luck. That would be Morris Claiborne, but that's a whole other story.) But did anyone else have the same feeling from 14 years ago when Randy Moss came in here for Thanksgiving. You just had that feeling back then that he would torch the Cowboys and that's exactly what he did. Three catches, three touchdowns – all over 50 yards. And then he didn't stop for his entire career.
It's a little different because Moss made it clear he wanted to be in Dallas and the Cowboys passed on him. But while there wasn't the same animosity toward the Cowboys, it had to feel good for Griffin to come back here on Thanksgiving and do this in front of the home state.
To me, what's actually even scarier about the whole thing from the Cowboys' perspective is that Griffin really didn't play a phenomenal game. Don't get me wrong, he was great. But if you go back and watch some of the plays in that second quarter, Griffin got a lot of help from his receivers. That first touchdown pass, a 68-yarder to Aldrick Robinson, was a thing of beauty, but the other throws were a product of his receivers making plays.
Guys like Pierre Garcon and, of course Santana Moss, an original Cowboys' killer, simply made outstanding catches in traffic for Griffin. Let's not forget that RG3 has a cannon of a right arm and he knows how to fire the ball into those tight spots. He has confidence in his playmaking ability and his receivers.
Neither quarterback really got a lot of support from their offensive line, but the biggest difference in this game was the receivers making big plays for them. The Redskins got Garcon back and Romo lost Austin in the first quarter.
Even after that, those guys for Washington made play after play. Whether it was a clutch grab between defenders or catching the ball and breaking tackles. Not saying Romo didn't get good play from his receivers, but it wasn't on the same level.
Again, it goes back to Griffin, though.
I mean, is Garcon really a better player now than he was? Moss had been declining but is having a better season this year. Robinson? Hankerson? When you have a guy like RG3 back there making plays, it builds camaraderie within the group and he's raising the level of play in his receivers.
Hey, this is about Griffin. That's not a slight toward Romo and what's going on with this offense. I think Romo fought his tail off again Thursday and kept getting off the mat when he was pounded play after play.
But that guy on the other side was just a little better on this day. And the scary part is, he's not going anywhere for a long, long time.