The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins renew their rivalry on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys are 28-15-1 all-time on Thanksgiving and have played host to a game on the holiday each year since 1978. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has never lost on Thanksgiving, boasting a 5-0 record with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Cowboys have also won three straight games against the Redskins.
Of course, the Cowboys’ winning streak pre-dates the era of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has presented a unique array of passing and rushing problems for defenses this season. Griffin has completed 60.8 percent of his throws more than 10 yards downfield this season, the highest rate in the NFL. The last quarterback to finish a season with a completion percentage over 60.0 on such throws was the Houston Texans’ Matt Schaub in 2008 (61.5 percent).
Here are three other statistical areas to watch Thursday:
- Griffin’s ability to run the ball adds another layer to his game and has put defenses into pick-your-poison scenarios more than once. Griffin has rushed for 613 yards this season, which is 19th overall in the NFL. Griffin has gained 371 of his rushing yards on scrambles this season at 10.3 yards at attempt. The only comparable dual-threat quarterback the Cowboys have faced this season is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. The Cowboys allowed 64 yards rushing by Newton, including 39 yards on two scrambles.
- When Griffin is passing, he is doing it from the pocket. All 12 of his touchdown passes this season have come from inside the pocket and his 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is second in the league only to Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Griffin has been especially dangerous when he stays in the pocket against added pass-rush pressure. Griffin has the highest Total QBR in the NFL (92.7) when passing from the pocket against five or more pass rushers this season.
- Ironically, no quarterback in the league has been more potent outside than Romo since the start of the 2011 season. Romo has the highest Total QBR (95.4) on passes outside the pocket and is tied with Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers with 14 touchdown passes on such plays.
- Griffin has picked up a league-high 1,230 of his passing yards on play-action passes this season. Such plays have accounted for 56.1 percent of Griffin’s passing yards this season, with no other quarterback at a rate higher than 40.3 percent. The rest of the NFL has gained 24.2 percent of their passing yards via play action. The Cowboys have allowed the third-highest completion percentage (73.0) on play-action passes in the league.