Redskins' RG3 returns to Texas for Thanksgiving Day game vs. Cowboys

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Photo - Alex Brandon/AP
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III grew up in Texas and attended Baylor University, about 100 miles away from Dallas.
Alex Brandon/AP Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III grew up in Texas and attended Baylor University, about 100 miles away from Dallas.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

ASHBURN -- The anticipation will be fun for Robert Griffin III. He gets to go home, play in front of numerous people who once cheered his every move and see family. He gets to play in a Thanksgiving Day game as a rookie, perhaps enabling him to add to his growing legend.

Dallas doesn't view it the same way. Here's what the Cowboys know: They had only three days to prepare a game plan to stop the Redskins quarterback, who runs plays they rarely see. And that could present trouble.

Fun is not the word they would use.

"You'd rather have more time," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "There's no question about that, particularly when you're facing him, and the scheme they're using is different. But it is what it is."

Yes it is. The Cowboys have no choice but to face Griffin and the Redskins' zone read option with only three days of preparation. Fortunately for Dallas, it faced Carolina's Cam Newton, who operates a similar offense, earlier this season. Newton threw for 233 yards and rushed six times for 64 yards in a 19-14 loss.

Garrett said the teams use their quarterbacks differently overall, which other teams have said as well. And Griffin said he can see defenses struggle with the complexity of the Redskins' system, especially those seeing it for the first time.

"There is so much focus on the new things that we're doing. They don't really focus on what we have done," Griffin said. "We're mixing it up, throwing different formations out there, different routes at them. That's what you have to do. [Dallas' defense] isn't easy by any means. The way they run it and the blitzes that they do, so I think both teams have a problem when it comes to the short turnaround. We'll both hopefully make the most of it."

But for Griffin, the trip also is a homecoming as he starred collegiately at Baylor, approximately 100 miles away from Dallas in Waco, Texas. Griffin grew up in Copperas Grove, Texas, though he was a fan of the Denver Broncos. He did play once at Cowboys Stadium in college -- leading a 66-42 win over Texas Tech in which Griffin threw for 106 yards a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and another two scores.

"I had some friends who were big, big Cowboys fans," Griffin said. "They told me that they would be cheering for me, but they still want their guys to win. I guess I can accept that. We still have to go out and get the victory."

Going home also means receiving postgame analysis from his father, who likes sharing his thoughts on his son's performances. Even after last week's performance in which Griffin threw one incompletion, his father picked apart his game.

But, in the end, Thursday is less about a homecoming and more about trying to win a game. Griffin wants a repeat of Sunday; he told teammates he was going to dominate and that's what he did, completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and another 84 yards rushing.

This week?

"It's the same message," Griffin said. "I haven't seen this team play as physical as they did this past Sunday, offense and defense. It wasn't perfect by any means, but there was a certain tenacity, a certain attitude that was brought to the game and you could feel it. The fans could feel it. The players could feel it. I think that's the kind of mindset you have to bring into every game. That will be the call this week."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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