The Dallas Cowboys pulled out a narrow win last weekend despite struggling to contain a couple of formidable rookies.
They figure to have their hands full again with Robert Griffin III coming to town.
The Cowboys, seeking a third consecutive victory overall and a seventh in eight meetings with the Washington Redskins, try to hold Griffin in check during this Thanksgiving showdown.
One week after beating Philadelphia 38-23, Dallas (5-5) climbed to within one game of NFC East-leading New York with Sunday's 23-20 overtime victory over Cleveland. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, though, certainly made things difficult on the Cowboys, who trailed 13-0 at halftime and needed Dan Bailey's 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of regulation to send the game into OT.
"We are going to enjoy this one for another 10 minutes or so and then get on to the Redskins," coach Jason Garrett said afterward.
Garrett knows his team faces quite a challenge in trying to slow down Griffin, who will play his first NFL game in his home state. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and former Baylor standout was nearly perfect Sunday, completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a 31-6 rout of the Eagles, adding 12 carries for another 84 yards on the ground.
"(The Redskins) are certainly playing different offensive football than they've played in the past because of RG3 being their quarterback," Garrett told the Cowboys' official website. "We certainly have to do our best to get on top of what they're trying to get done. They've certainly been very impressive at different times and they do a variety of things, and we've got to make sure we can contain him."
Griffin, who ranks fifth in the league with a 101.0 passer rating, leads all quarterbacks with 613 rushing yards and six rushing TDs.
"I'm tired of talking about Robert," said Santana Moss, whose only reception Sunday went for a 61-yard score. "Nothing's going to change; Robert's going to go out there and be special. That's the gift that he has, he's a special guy. He brings that kind of 'specialness.' I don't know if that's a word, but he brings it to our offense."
Another impressive display from Griffin could help Washington (4-6), which has dropped three straight to Dallas by a combined eight points, break through. A win Thursday would move the Redskins into a second-place tie with the Cowboys.
"If we had lost (Sunday), we're going into (this) week with a whole different mindset of, hey, 'spoiler' - maybe fight to see if the stars align just right," Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "But now we have a legitimate shot with the way this division is right now. There's definitely a belief right now."
Though Washington surrendered its lowest yardage total of the season (257) against the Eagles, it's still giving up an average of 383.8 to rank 26th in the league.
Already without defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, things could get more difficult after safety Brandon Meriweather suffered a season-ending torn right ACL last weekend. The two-time Pro Bowler was making his season debut after missing the first nine games with sprained ligaments in his other knee. He had an interception and two pass deflections before exiting.
London Fletcher, meanwhile, is uncertain to be available due to a sprained ankle. The veteran linebacker has played in all 234 games during his 15-year career.
"Knowing London, he'll be back if possible," coach Mike Shanahan said.
Washington's depleted defensive unit could catch a break if Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith can't play. The No. 9 overall pick in last year's draft didn't practice Tuesday after suffering a high left ankle sprain against the Browns. Dallas could also be without centers Ryan Cook and Phil Costa.
While those offensive line issues contributed to Tony Romo being sacked a career-high seven times Sunday, the Cowboys may need to lean on their quarterback all the more with DeMarco Murray (foot) likely to miss a sixth straight game and Felix Jones (knee) banged up.
Aside from the sacks, Romo fared well against the Browns, completing 35 of 50 passes for 313 yards - including a 28-yard scoring strike to Dez Bryant, who hauled in 12 receptions for a career-high 145 yards.
Romo was picked off 13 times over his first seven games but has no interceptions in his last three. He's compiled an 8-1 record over his last nine November games while throwing 17 TDs and just three picks.
Dallas has gone 28-15-1 all-time on Thanksgiving, winning five of its last six. The Cowboys have taken all six Thanksgiving matchups against Washington.
The Associated Press News Service
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