The following day, with family and friends and his former college coach in attendance, Griffin carried out his mission, leading the Redskins to a 38-31 victory over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
Griffin, who starred in football and track at Copperas Cove High School and won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor University, looked right at home in Cowboys Stadium. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 311 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, and became the first Redskins quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.
“It was good, emotionally, to come back. I got to see my Baylor head coach, Coach Art Briles. Hadn’t seen him in a long time,” Griffin said. “Being back in Texas, I felt like I was back home, where I’ve spent so many years. But it didn’t charge me through the roof. It was a normal game, even though it was a Thanksgiving game. That’s how we approached it.”
Said Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan: “He’s kind of like Cool Hand Luke. He just handles himself and goes about his business, works extremely hard to prepare for a game. . . . He focuses on his job and doesn’t seem to let anything bother him. That’s why he has the success he has, because he’s very disciplined, very determined.”
Griffin’s heroics — along with a 24-carry, 113-yard performance by running back Alfred Morris, a defensive effort that forced three turnovers, and a win-sealing 48-yard field goal from Kai Forbath — gave Washington its first Thanksgiving victory over Dallas in seven tries.
The win was Washington’s second straight — its first two-game win streak since Weeks 1 and 2 of the 2011 campaign — and its second consecutive victory in the NFC East following Sunday’s 31-6 triumph over Philadelphia.
At 5-6, the Redskins are tied for second place in the division. If the New York Giants lose to Green Bay on Sunday night, Washington will host the Giants on Dec. 3 with a share of first place in the NFC East on the line.
Thursday’s nationally televised game had no shortage of fireworks. After a slow start, the Redskins went on a 28-point scoring tear in the second quarter, then had to weather a 28-point second half by the Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo, who completed 37 of 62 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns. It also took a strong defensive stand for the Redskins to escape victorious.
“I was really proud of our football team,” Shanahan said. “They played extremely hard. It was a little exciting in the second half. We had to make some plays there on that last drive, played eight minutes, had to get a couple first downs. Really impressed with [Forbath] to come up with the big field goal there in the last couple minutes of the game. . . . But more importantly, it was a game we needed, and really pleased with our total effort.”