Cowboys can't make up deficit against Redskins, lose 38-31

Cowboys can't make up deficit against Redskins, lose 38-31

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks for an open receiver under pressure against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day at Cowboys Stadium on November 22, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)



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Posted on November 22, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 10:22 AM

ARLINGTON – Thursday afternoon turned into a football feast for Robert Griffin III as he took the field in his first NFL game back in his home state on Thanksgiving day. The rookie led a big-play offense that blew away the Cowboys en route to a 38-31 victory that puts Dallas' post-season hopes in serious jeopardy.

The Cowboys rallied from a 35-13 deficit to get to within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but Dallas' defense allowed Grffin to march into field goal range. Rookie kicker Kai Forbath put the game away with a 48 yard field goal with less than three minutes left.

Griffin, a Copperas Cove native, threw for 311 yards and 4 touchdown passes yards as Mike Shanahan's offense turned three Cowboys turnovers into 21 points.

"We turned the ball over, you can't do that against a team like this," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game. "That's as dynamic as they are." 

Tony Romo threw for 441 yards and three touchdowns on 62 attempts.  Receiver Dez Bryant caught of pair of those touchdown throws and racked 145 yards receiving,  but the 28-3 hole the Cowboys dug by halftime was simply too much to overcome.

"It's just not going to be a fun few days now," Romo said. "It's just going to eat at you, it's going to consume all your thoughts." 

The Cowboys defense couldn't have started any better against Griffin. Not only did the Cowboys force a three and out on Washington's first possession, but Jason Hatcher nearly sacked Griffin on third down and forced him into an intentional grounding penalty.

The early defensive stand allowed the Cowboys to start their first possession in Redskins Territory. The Cowboys drove inside the 10 yard line, but a Jason Witten false start penalty helped stall the drive. Dallas' red zone woes continued; they ended up settling for a field goal and a 3-0 lead that would last throughout the first quarter.

It didn't take long for the Redskins to make that disappear, however. Washington dominated the second quarter, scoring 28 unanswered points, including 14 on a pair of Cowboy turnovers.

A couple of former Texas high school standouts combined for the game's first explosive play. Griffin, the Central Texas native, threw a bomb for Aldrick Robinson, the former SMU standout who graduated from Waxahachie High School. Robinson put his blazing speed on display, flying by Cowboys safety Danny McCray to complete the 68 yard touchdown strike.

The Redskins then cashed in on the Cowboys' first turnover.

Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant with a pass that would have put the Cowboys in Redskins territory again, but Bryant fumbled when Josh Wilson put his helmet directly on the football and forced it out. The Redskins drove down the field with relative ease and, after a Brandon Carr pass interference penalty, set them up on the goal line. Alfred Morris plunged in for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

Later, Griffin threw behind Pierre Garcon, but he snagged it near midfield then race downfield, outrunning the Cowboys secondary.  When it was all done, it was a 59 yard touchdown strike for a 21-3 lead.

"I was in awe of RGIII and the plays he was making," Jerry Jones told the media. "I have to almost pinch myself to realize that he was out here playing against Texas Tech about a year ago, and here he is really doing a number on us." 

With the Cowboys in two-minute mode, Tony Romo threw his first interception in four games, getting picked off by Deangelo Hall. That led to a six yard Griffin touchdown pass to Santana Moss, a perfect pitch and catch to beat Brandon Carr.

As time slipped away from the third quarter, Romo connected with Bryant for an 85 yard score –– the longest of Tony's career –– that brought the game to 28-13.  

Dallas has also had to overcome a slew of injuries. Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and linebacker Bruce Carter left Thursday's game against Washington due to injuries.

Austin strained his right hip and Scandrick hurt his left hand before halftime. The Cowboys said neither player would return.

Carter injured his left elbow making a tackle in the fourth quarter. He remained sitting on the sideline for several minutes at the end of the play while he was tended to by trainers, and the team almost immediately ruled him out for the game after he walked off the field.

Austin came down hard in the back of the end zone on the opening drive of the game when he took a hit from linebacker London Fletcher on an incomplete pass. Austin also had been knocked to the ground by Fletcher after an earlier incomplete pass.

Dallas was already without receiver Kevin Ogletree, who was inactive because of a concussion sustained Sunday.

Scandrick was hurt when he was trying to make a tackle and was hit by teammate Anthony Spencer. Scandrick ran straight to the sideline holding his arm.

The team initially said Scandrick was being evaluated for a forearm injury.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)