By SCHUYLER DIXON
ARLINGTON, Texas — Robert Griffin III raised his fists, took a knee for a quick prayer, jumped up and pointed to the sky.
That’s the routine on touchdown passes for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, and he got to do it four times in his impressive return to Texas.
Griffin threw for 311 yards and Washington built a huge halftime lead against Dallas before holding on for a 38-31 victory that conjured memories for some of a rally that helped make Cowboys vs. Redskins on Thanksgiving famous.
“He’s kind of like ‘Cool Hand Luke,’” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “He doesn’t get too upset about anything.”
Griffin made the Cowboys look like an overmatched college team in the second quarter, throwing for three scores in Washington’s first 28-point quarter in 13 years as the Redskins (5-6) built a 28-3 halftime lead.
After Tony Romo threw the longest touchdown of his career — an 85-yarder to Dez Bryant late in the third quarter — Griffin answered by becoming the first Redskins quarterback with four touchdown passes in consecutive games.
And finally, when the Cowboys got within a touchdown and really had people thinking back to Clint Longley’s miracle TD to Drew Pearson in the final seconds of a one-point Dallas victory over Washington on Thanksgiving in 1974, Griffin calmly led the Redskins on a clock-killing drive to a field goal and a 38-28 lead in his first pro game in Texas since his sparkling run at Baylor.
“Anytime you have a guy like him, you never worry about him,” said Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who set up a first-half score with an interception. “You worry about the guys around him being able to keep up with the pace.”
Romo lost for the first time in six starts on Thanksgiving, despite a career-high 441 yards and three second-half touchdowns. After the long TD to Bryant, who matched his career high from last week with 145 yards receiving, Romo ran in a 2-point conversion after a TD throw to Felix Jones and threw another scoring pass to Bryant to help Dallas close to 35-28 with 8:24 remaining.
“I thought we had a good chance,” said Romo, who tied a career high with 62 pass attempts.
Griffin responded by completing three passes for first downs, including one on third-and-1 near midfield — and the Redskins ran nearly 5 minutes off the clock before Kai Forbath’s 48-yard field goal with 3:03 remaining.
“I told the guys that that was probably the drive that saved our season,” Griffin said. “You have a huge lead, the other team’s roaring back, they have all the momentum, and then you go out there and you convert third down after third down after third down and get in field goal range.”
Dallas drove to a field goal with 23 seconds left, but Hall easily picked up the onside kick and ran untouched before sliding down short of the goal line, clinching Romo’s third loss in three career 400-yard games. It also was the Cowboys’ first loss to the Redskins in seven games on Thanksgiving.
“That quarterback is obviously a very good player, and they use him well,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Griffin. “It was challenging for us to slow those guys down. We didn’t do enough offensively to keep up with them in the first half.”
The Cowboys (5-6) actually contained Griffin in the first quarter, getting a sack and forcing an intentional grounding penalty that gave them good enough field position for an easy drive to a 3-0 lead.
Everything changed on Griffin’s first big NFL play in Texas. He hit Aldrick Robinson in stride for a 68-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead to spark the first 28-point quarter in 13 years for the Redskins (5-6).
Griffin’s next big throw wasn’t nearly as accurate, but Garcon somehow came down with it and outran the Dallas defense the final 45 yards on a 59-yard score for a 21-3 lead.
“As Pierre is running on his long touchdown, and I was like, ‘Man, that was a great catch.’” Griffin said. “I had to throw it to only that spot, and you don’t see many guys make catches like that.”
Romo’s first interception in four games gave the Redskins a chance to get one more score before halftime when Hall returned it to the Dallas 33 with 30 seconds left. Out of timeouts at the Dallas 6 with 10 seconds left, the Redskins trusted Griffin to try to get a touchdown, and Moss kept both feet in while falling out of bounds for a 28-3 lead with 5 seconds left.
Griffin completed 12 straight passes from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the third and finished 20 of 28.
It was hard to tell with his final numbers, but the Cowboys did manage to put some pressure on Griffin. They sacked him four times, forced him to sprint out of the pocket a number of times and delivered hard hits after several throws.
The Dallas offense, playing most of the game without Miles Austin after he injured a hip early, never could answer in the decisive second quarter. The Cowboys had only two first downs while the Redskins were scoring four touchdowns.
The Cowboys’ best possession came right after Griffin’s first big play, but Bryant fumbled in the open field at the end of what would have been a first-down catch. DeJon Gomes returned the fumble to the Dallas 49, and Alfred Morris scored from the 1 for a 14-3 lead. Morris had 113 yards on 24 carries.
Washington 0 28 0 10—38
Dallas 3 0 10 18—31
Dal—FG Bailey 30, 9:17.
Was—A.Robinson 68 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), 13:47.
Was—Morris 1 run (Forbath kick), 7:00.
Was—Garcon 59 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), 2:14.
Was—Moss 6 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), :05.
Dal—FG Bailey 33, 11:48.
Dal—Bryant 85 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 1:24.
Was—Paul 29 pass from Griffin III (Forbath kick), 12:48.
Dal—F.Jones 10 pass from Romo (Romo run), 9:54.
Dal—Bryant 11 pass from Romo (Bailey kick), 8:18.
Was—FG Forbath 48, 2:58.
Dal—FG Bailey 51, :18.
First downs 22 22
Total Net Yards 437 458
Rushes-yards 30-142 11-35
Passing 295 423
Punt Returns 2-13 3-17
Kickoff Returns 3-83 4-76
Interceptions Ret. 2-37 1-27
Comp-Att-Int 20-28-1 37-62-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-16 2-18
Punts 5-45.2 3-56.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-41 7-45
Time of Possession 31:42 28:18
RUSHING—Washington, Morris 24-113, Griffin III 6-29. Dallas, F.Jones 6-14, Dunbar 1-8, Romo 3-7, Bryant 1-6.
PASSING—Washington, Griffin III 20-28-1-311. Dallas, Romo 37-62-2-441.
RECEIVING—Washington, Garcon 5-93, Morgan 5-48, Moss 4-42, Paulsen 2-11, A.Robinson 1-68, Paul 1-29, Hankerson 1-12, Banks 1-8. Dallas, Witten 9-74, Bryant 8-145, Beasley 7-68, Harris 4-71, F.Jones 3-47, Dunbar 3-21, Vickers 2-11, Holmes 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.