Riba: To win NFC East, Cowboys must stop Pro Bowler RGIII

Riba: To win NFC East, Cowboys must stop Pro Bowler RGIII

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 09: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a 40-32 win against the New Orleans Saints during the season opener at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)



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Posted on December 28, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 30 at 10:11 PM

IRVING -- Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III didn't truly arrive on the national scene until he led Baylor to a win over Oklahoma.

Three weeks after that game, Griffin became the first-ever athlete from Baylor to win the Heisman Trophy.

"It's unbelievably believable," Griffin said at the time.

Now, more than a year after being honored as the top college player, Griffin has become a Pro Bowl quarterback.

"There are no individual awards, in my opinion, in football," Griffin said this week, after he heard he had been chosen for the NFC Pro Bowl team. "You don't get these kinds of awards unless you're winning, and we've won six straight and people are starting to recognize that."

The Cowboys recognize Griffin as the quarterback they have to beat on Sunday if they want to be champions of the NFC East.

"The kid's obviously a great athlete," said Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "If you combine that with Mike Shanahan and his offense, I mean, that's about as serious as it gets."

The defensive starters were also showed their respect for Griffin's skills.

"The way he can get the ball down the field and the way he makes plays with his feet -- little stuff like that," said Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer.

"You know, he can create so many plays and get himself out of trouble a lot, which in turn, helps him make a lot of plays that you look at and say, 'Man, how did that happen?'" said Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears.

Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett said the Washington offense may look flashy with Griffin's play, but it's built on fundamentals.

"What they've done really well all year long is they've run the ball and then they've made a lot of plays in play action off their running game," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "They're the No. 1 rushing team in the National Football League, so it starts there."

Griffin's success as a rookie has certainly raised the visibility and the popularity of the Washington Redskins. All you have to do is look at one poll this week and you can see that the Cowboys are not the team that America is rooting for Sunday night.

"Yeah, he's a popular dude," said Cowboys linebacker Brady Poppinga. "He could win the presidency."

An unscientific poll conducted by ESPN has sampled more than 200,000 voters and in it, Texas is the only state in the country that has the majority of the support for the Cowboys Sunday. The rest of the country has jumped on the Redskins bandwagon.

"I wouldn't expect that," said Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford.

"The best team is going to win," said another defensive end, Jason Hatcher. "I don't care what you guys or what the other 49 states say, I really don't give a crap!"

And perhaps, neither should Cowboys fans.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com