Born in Japan, but raised primarily in Texas, where he starred in football and track at Copperas Cove High School and Baylor University, Griffin sees this game as a true homecoming.
He’ll play in front of a large number of family and friends, at the stadium and on televisions in homes across the state.
“It’ll be fun. I’ll get to see a lot of familiar faces,” Griffin said Tuesday. “I have a lot of fans down there who got to see me grow up in Copperas Cove, Texas, and then go to college at Baylor. It’ll definitely be a good homecoming. More so a homecoming than New Orleans was. But, certainly looking forward to having fun.”
Griffin also understands that he now represents the arch-rival Redskins. Griffin grew up cheering for the Denver Broncos, but most of his friends are Cowboys fans.
He remembers gathering at their houses on Thanksgivings past and watching Dallas play. Now those same friends will be watching Griffin against their Cowboys, and will do so with mixed feelings.
“They tell me they’ll be cheering for me, but that they still want their guys to win,” Griffin said with a grin. “I can accept that, but we’ve still got to go out and get the victory.”
Thursday will be the second time Griffin plays at Cowboys Stadium.
In 2011, he led Baylor to a 66-42 win over Texas Tech there, rushing for 62 yards and two touchdowns and passing for another.
Now Griffin hopes he can orchestrate a similar performance, or something that resembles Sunday’s dazzling 31-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Griffin entered the Eagles’ game with great confidence after using the bye week to reflect, refresh and sharpen his understanding of the offense.
With his team in a must-win situation, Griffin — who had told teammates that he wanted to dominate in that game — completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
“Basically, we knew what was at hand, the hole we dug ourselves in,” Griffin said. “Like I said, we were in every single game and we could have won every single game. It’s just a matter of going out and executing. I thought guys came back fresh — fresh legs, fresh hands, fresh mind. I just felt a vibe like we were going to go out there and click. . . . We went out and dominated.”
Griffin and the Redskins face another pressure situation this week.
In addition to playing in a nationally televised game in Griffin’s home state, Washington faces yet another must-win situation. At 4-6, with six games remaining, they can’t afford losses — particularly inside the NFC East — if they want to defy the odds and reach the postseason.
Griffin is well aware that the chances of him again completing 93 percent of his passes – something that hadn’t happened since Steve Young did it for the San Francisco 49ers in 1994 — aren’t great.
But with the Redskins facing a short work week and minimal preparation time, they will rely on Griffin’s abilities to spark their offense. His coaches expect him to rise to the occasion again this week.
“Robert doesn’t change,” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s the same every day, at practice, since training camp, to the season, to games. No moment’s too big for Robert, and I think he’ll be the same, show up with a lot of energy and play well.”