A Sports Commentary
The Washington Redskins selected quarterback Robert Griffin III with its first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, confident that he is capable of leading them to the playoffs. On Sunday night at FedEx Field, Griffin has the opportunity to prove the organization right.
In its last game, the Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20. As a result, Washington (9-6) will win the NFC East if it beats Dallas (8-7) this weekend. The Redskins can still make the playoffs as a wild-card team with a loss, but they would need help from other teams.
This scenario takes us back to the Redskins' glory days, when a win over Dallas was essential to making the playoffs. There are some Redskin fans that savored the two wins over the Cowboys in the NFC championship games more than the subsequent Super Bowl wins.
Isn't it interesting that a Redskins quarterback from Texas could help get the franchise pointed in the right direction? Certainly, midway through the season it seemed unlikely that the team would qualify for the playoffs. The Redskins were 3-6 going into their bye week, top defender Brian Orakpo had been lost for the season due to injury and their defense couldn't get a late game stop.
Griffin has kept the organization from losing its fan base, which had become frustrated and tired of twenty years of losing. He surely has kept the Redskins in the hunt for the division title, and he may have saved Coach Mike Shanahan's job and his shot at getting into the Pro Football of Fame.
The Redskins' key to beating Dallas lies within the game plan that beat Philadelphia. Running back Alfred Morris needs 20-plus carries. Griffin needs two touchdowns from receivers Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Kicker Kai Forbath needs to extend his NFL-record 17 field goal streak to begin his career.
And then the Redskins have to keep their fingers crossed that the defense can hold on. It would feel anti-climatic if the season didn't come down to the final minute. Washington survived that situation against Philadelphia and we'll see if they can get the same result against Dallas.
Griffin is the catalyst of the Redskins resurgence, but if they are to make the playoffs, he will need to be just the beginning.
In all likelihood, the defense will determine whether Washington makes the playoffs. Let's face it, without a nail-biting finish it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.