In continuing our mini-series on the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, let’s take a look at a few of 2012s unsung heroes, players that had big performances but may not have grabbed the spotlight so to speak.
As you know, the team was 2-0 versus Dallas this season which included a captivating, edge-of-your-seat ‘W’ on Thanksgiving Day and a division-clinching victory at home in the final week of the season.
The six players listed below are a few guys who may not necessarily be the ‘talk of the town’ but players who we think definitely deserve some recognition for their clutch performances.
Earlier this year, head coach Mike Shanahan called him the ‘best o-line athlete ever’. That was following the Thanksgiving Day game when Williams collided with left guard Kory Lichtensteiger on the third play against the Dallas Cowboys.
Understanding what was on the line, Williams played through a painful thigh bruise for the remainder of the game, estimating that he was at only 60 percent effectiveness by the fourth quarter. But even though he was limited, and despite going up against DeMarcus Ware one of the premier pass rushers in the game, Williams was able to protect Robert Griffin III’s blindside and leave the rookie quarterback relatively unscathed.
Praising his captain’s gritty effort, Shanahan said Williams was at his finest during the final scoring drive of the fourth quarter.
“You have to have your captains, the guys that you count on, play when they’re hurt; not injured,” Shanahan said. “But, he has been hurting but he has played at a very high level and you expect that out of your leaders.”
You have to love hearing that from your head coach.
Robinson’s 68-yard touchdown grab on Thanksgiving Day from Griffin III ignited a scoring onslaught in a furious second quarter in which the Redskins dropped 28 unanswered points on the home team. Although it was his only catch of the game it was a momentum-changer. Before Cowboys players and fans had a chance to utter the letters “O.M.G”, the Redskins were heading into the locker room with a 28-3 halftime lead.
Paul’s 29-yard fourth quarter touchdown reception from Griffin III extended the Redskins lead to 22 points and put the Cowboys in what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit. For Paul, it was his first career touchdown reception in the NFL and halted any comeback attempt the Cowboys had up their sleeve giving the burgundy and gold a Thanksgiving Day ‘W’.
The fourth quarter touchdown pass also put a cap on Griffin III’s historic homecoming making it a reunion that Redskins fans everywhere will remember for a long time.
A third-year Pro, Riley totaled 129 tackles (73 solo) during the 2012 season, but maybe none more overlooked then his team-leading 9 tackles (6 solo) on Thanksgiving Day. The middle linebacker also added a 0.5 sack and one tackle for loss and was one of the key reasons why the defense was able to hold the Cowboys to 35 yards rushing, marking the Redskins’ second-best effort against the run in 2012 and their best effort since holding New Orleans to 32 rushing yards in a Week 1 victory.
The importance of Jackson’s career-high fourth interception of the 2012 season (and defenses third interception on the night) cannot be overlooked. It came with three minutes left in the game and helped seal the 23rd playoff berth in team history and first since 2007.
Shhh…as we remember the roar of FedExField!
Four punts inside the 20-yard line? Long of 58 yards? 43.3 average on 10 punts?
You cannot say enough about Rocca’s performance versus the Cowboys this year or for that matter since the day he arrived to Washington, D.C. Most coaches would probably tell you that it’s a huge advantage anytime your punter is able to pin the opponent deep in their own territory.
If you win the field position battle then chances are you win the game.
Check back on the Blog tomorrow as we take a look at the top performers from the two Redskins-Dallas games as well as preview five things to watch for in the teams’ 2013 matchups.
Tags: cowboys, redskins, thanksgiving day, unsung heroes, Week 17
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