The NFC East division will be decided in the very last game of the final week of the regular season. Sunday night in Washington America will see two fairly desperate quarterbacks give it all they have to advance to the postseason.
For the Cowboys it’s a matter of proving themselves and making it back to the postseason. Tony Romo can shed so much of the weight on his shoulders by beating the Redskins, and even more if he were to win a playoff game. The team has developed a reputation over the last few years of completely giving it away every December, but they haven’t really done that so far this season.
The Redskins, on the other hand, are on a 6 game winning streak—their longest since 1996. Second overall pick Robert Griffin III has been a wunderkind for Washington. It appears the Redskins really have found the franchise quarterback they have been searching years for. Having already defeated the Cowboys in grand fashion on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, the Redskins get to finish the season at home. And you can bet that the capital crowd will be in full roaring force to see their ‘Skins competing in a meaningful game for the first time in what must seem like forever.
The Cowboys have something to prove to the world, to their coach, and to themselves. The Redskins are young and just lucky to be here. Regardless of how much they want it, the fact that they were never expected to be in this position in the first place alleviates so much pressure… the exact same amount of pressure, as it turns out, that in turn is placed upon Tony Romo’s shoulders.
It’s going to be the defense which Dallas will be forced to rely on for the win. If the Dallas defense doesn’t hold either Robert Griffin III or running back Alfred Morris to a weak day then it’s going to be a long day for them. Both are rookies and both are having what would be career years for 95% of the people that play their positions.
Everyone knows about Griffin III’s extraordinary rookie year, in which he is competing neck-and-neck with Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck for Rookie of the Year. It’s a testament to the shift in focus across the league as Morris has ran for 1,413 yards over 15 games. Mike Shanahan has clearly re-adopted his gameplans from his years in Denver—where he turned unknown guys names Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, and Tatum Bell into 1,000-yard rushers.
Shanahan has this Redskins squad perfectly poised to make noise, and they’ll look to double-prong and hopefully overwhelm the Dallas defense, particularly in midfield where it has been proven before that if you disrupt the linebacker corps enough the secondary could follow. Look for more attempts to expose rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys offense, led by Romo, can always answer any Redskins attack with one of their own. The problem with these Cowboys all season has been their inability to get ahead. It’s as if they have been playing behind all year long, and as the game winds down they scramble to get a firmer grasp on the outcome. Last week Romo threw 2 touchdowns in the final 2 minutes… but, clearly those two touchdowns were only needed in the final two minutes because they weren’t scored anytime earlier in the game.
They can’t afford to let the highly-explosive Robert Griffin III do what he did on Thanksgiving and walk all over this defense. The more they let the Redskins advance the more effective Alfred Morris becomes. They have to eliminate Griffin’s options at the outset. Make him hesitate and think. It’s always been a weak spot for highly-athletic quarterbacks that they’re used to relying on instinct, but quarterback is not running back and when you make a guy like Robert Griffin III think (especially because he’s a rookie) he’ll make mistakes.
If they fail to pressure him up front or fail to confuse his reads then they’ll get ruined, and they’ll lose the division to the hated rivals in Washington.
One of the greatest rivalries in NFL history is apparently back in full force. Let’s see who comes out on top and who takes up residence in the dog house.
Where To Watch Online: Cowboys at Redskins