Shanahan Exclusive: RG3 has the complete package
Cowboys at Redskins
Key matchup: Tony Romo’s legacy vs. Robert Griffin III’s.
Outlook: It’s not a playoff game, but it might as well be one for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
For Robert Griffin III, it's his first opportunity to prove he’s capable of winning on the grand stage.
Fair or not, that’s how it works in the NFL: quarterbacks receive a disproportionate amount of praise (or blame) for their team's outcome in big games.
This is one of those games.
“I don’t know if it’s fair,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “Sometimes somebody doesn’t have the supporting cast and can be a great quarterback and they just don’t have the team. But it really doesn’t matter, when people look at the great quarterbacks, they go back to Super Bowls and championships.”
When the hated rivals meet Sunday at FedEx Field, the winner will claim the NFC East championship and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Romo enters the game with a reputation for coming up short when the stakes are high. Who could forget the botched hold on a late field goal against the Seahawks in the playoffs after he 2006 season? Just last season, in fact, the Cowboys faced a situation similar to Sunday’s. But as it turned out, it was Eli Manning, not Romo, who lifted his team into the postseason.
“Ultimately you always know what’s at stake and it’s part of playing that position,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said, asked if Romo feels the burden of being 1-3 in the playoffs. “He really does a great job of embracing it. To be in this position, he has a lot to do with it because of how well he’s played.”
Two days from now, Romo will be looking to shed a label while Griffin will be seeking to earn one. The rookie is undefeated since the bye, but Sunday’s contest, under the lights, in prime time, will be by far the most important moment of his football career.
“If you play big on a big stage, people tend to write good things about you,” Griffin said. “We all want to play well on the big stage or in a prime time game or in a game like this that comes down to the division. It’s like a conference championship game in college, but it just happened to play out this way that the last game of the year is a championship game. And we have to win this championship.”