Thom Loverro: Biggest plus for RG3 is Redskins' lack of turnovers

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Thom Loverro

Robert Griffin III completed nine of 18 passes for only 100 yards in the Washington Redskins' 28-18 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday that clinched the NFC East title. But you could make the case it was perhaps his greatest NFL performance to date.

Why? Because he never put his team in a position to lose.

The key statistic -- zero turnovers for the rookie quarterback. No interceptions. No fumbles.

Given RGIII's remarkable season, we sometimes tend to forget that this is a 22-year-old kid. He was playing, for all intents and purposes, an NFL playoff game, the biggest professional game of his career, and he was as cool as ... well, Cool Hand Luke.

The guy on the other team -- Tony Romo, a 10-year veteran who is rewriting the Cowboys' record books -- threw three interceptions and would have had a fourth if London Fletcher caught one that hit him in his hands.

It's those moments -- the turnovers -- that change games in this league. No one can stop anyone defensively anymore in the NFL, so the way to play defense is to create turnovers.

This is perhaps the greatest measure of RGIII's value this season -- five interceptions in 15 games. For a veteran quarterback who had thrown the ball nearly 400 times over the course of a season, throwing only five interceptions would be impressive.

For a rookie, it's beyond remarkable.

When your offense turns the ball over, it puts pressure on your defense. It often forces it back on the field defending bad field position and does so quicker and more often than the defense was prepared for.

RGIII's ball security has given the Redskins' suspect defense the opportunity to right itself during the team's seven-game winning streak. The defense has played better, but let's face facts -- this is a unit that would never recover if the quarterback was throwing three interceptions.

When an offense commits turnovers, it sucks the life out of a defense.

"The way our offense takes care of the ball is key for our defense," nose tackle Barry Cofield told me on "The Sports Fix" on ESPN 980. "[RGIII] has five interceptions on the year. There are really good quarterbacks in this league who throw four interceptions in a game.

"For him to be that young and take care of the ball is what separates him from other quarterbacks in this league," Cofield said. "When the offense turns over the ball, it's very disheartening for the defense. It wears on you as the season progresses. It wears on you game to game."

The Redskins were plus-17 in turnover ratio for this season. Last year they were minus-14. That's a turnover turnaround of 31.

They set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season with 14.

That's why the Redskins finished 10-6 and are the NFC East champs.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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