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Final Word: Redskins-Cowboys

11/21/2012

Three nuggets of knowledge about the Redskins-Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game:

The history. The Dallas Cowboys have won five of their last six Thanksgiving Day games, the only loss in that stretch coming to the New Orleans Saints in 2010. This will be the eighth time the Washington Redskins have played a Thanksgiving game, and the seventh time they've done so against the Cowboys. And while they did beat the Lions 20-0 on Thanksgiving Day of 1973, they are 0-6 all-time against the Cowboys in Thanksgiving games. The last time they played one was 2002, when the Cowboys beat them 27-20.

To blitz or not to blitz? The Cowboys must make a decision as to how they want to put pressure on Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, and it won't be an easy decision. Through the first nine games of this season, the book on Griffin was that he'd pick you apart if you sent extra pass-rushers but that he struggled against standard pressure and the key was to contain him in the pocket and limit his options. However, in Sunday's victory against the Eagles, Griffin was 11-for-12 for 184 yards and three touchdowns against four or fewer pass-rushers. That's a 91.7 percent completion rate, and according to ESPN Stats & Information, a significant improvement over his 67 percent completion rate against standard pressure over his first nine games. In those first nine games, he averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and threw just three touchdowns and three interceptions against four or fewer. Sunday, his average was 15.3 yards per attempt and he did not throw an interception.

Coverage improving. In their first seven games of this season, the Redskins allowed eight different opposing players to rack up 100 receiving yards in a game. That included staggering totals such as A.J. Green's 183 for the Bengals in Week 3, Danny Amendola's 160 for the Rams in Week 2, Percy Harvin's 133 for the Vikings in Week 6 and the Week 4 game in which two Tampa Bay receivers reached the century mark. However, over their past three games, no opposing player has more than 82 yards against the Redskins' defense. What does this mean for Dallas pass-catchers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, who have combined for seven 100-yard receiving games this year? History says at least one should have a big game, but it's also possible the Redskins' coverage schemes have improved enough over those past three games that they could limit the damage.