ARLINGTON, Tex. — If he is lucky, and if he stays healthy, and if he doesn’t get bored with lighting up scoreboards, Robert Griffin III will make many visits to Cowboys Stadium as the quarterback of the Washington Redskins. But he may never again match the impact of his first time, when he introduced himself to the Dallas Cowboys with an epic Thanksgiving Day performance.
Playing on the biggest stage of his young NFL career, Griffin turned his Texas homecoming into another in a string of jaw-dropping games that has turned his rookie season into something that is starting to feel more like a coronation. He threw four first-half touchdowns, building a 25-point lead, then — after the Cowboys had closed to within a touchdown — drove the Redskins to a fourth-quarter field goal that iced a 38-31 victory.
“I feel as if something is building,” Griffin said of his 5-6 Redskins. “We might have thought we could do it. [But] now we know we can do it, and it’s in our hands.”
The superlatives, records and historic achievements continued to pile up for Griffin. Combined with his four touchdowns Sunday at home against Philadelphia, he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history — and the first quarterback in Redskins history — to pass for four or more touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Those eight touchdowns came over a span of just five days, as Griffin and the Redskins shredded the Eagles and Cowboys to put themselves back in playoff contention at 5-6.
At one point late in the first half, as the Cowboys were imploding and the Redskins were threatening to turn the game into a rout, the home fans went silent and a chant of “RGIII, RGIII!” — faint but clearly audible — went up from the stands. Griffin, who led his Baylor Bears to a victory here over Texas Tech, was on the verge of stealing Jerry Jones’s opulent palace right out from under him.
“I was in awe of RGIII and the plays he was making,” Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, said after the game. “We don’t have to play [him] but one more time. I’d hate to [have] to line up against him five or six times.”
But as impressive as that first half was — with Griffin compiling another perfect passer rating of 158.3 — the poise he showed in the fourth quarter, as things were unraveling, was what most impressed teammates.
After throwing an interception — his first in more than a month — early in the fourth quarter, Griffin watched the Cowboys score quickly to pull to within 35-28. If ever there was a moment where a rookie quarterback might wilt, this was it.
“I’ve seen good quarterbacks let a game go down the drain after a big interception,” guard Chris Chester said. “But as soon as that pick was thrown, I knew it wouldn’t be an issue. We all knew. We’ve been watching this kid all year.”
Indeed, when Griffin got the ball back, he led the Redskins on a 50-yard drive, converting a clutch third-and-one and picking up two other first downs through the air, to put the Redskins in position for Kai Forbath’s 48-yard field goal that essentially put the game out of reach.
“It was huge,” Griffin said. “I told the guys that it was probably the drive that saved our season.”
After signing dozens of autographs in the tunnel next to the Redskins’ locker room, Griffin strolled into his postgame news conference, looked out at the banks of television cameras and reporters, and opened his remarks by wishing a happy Thanksgiving to “all the Redskins fans out there.”
And then he vanished into a balmy Texas night, exiting a building that will see him plenty more, but that already has seen enough.
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