By Shawn Lealos

The Dallas Cowboys have gone into the final game of the NFL season for three years in a row with the NFC East and a playoff berth on the line. For the first time in four years, the Cowboys don’t have to worry about winning or going home in the final week of the NFL season. However, the Washington Redskins are coming off a disappointing season and a win in the final game could end things on a positive note for both the Redskins and their embattled quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

Robert Griffin III

In his rookie season, Robert Griffin III proved that he was worth everything the Washington Redskins gave up for him. He led his Redskins to the postseason, but Mike Shanahan might have hurt the career of Griffin when he sent his quarterback out to play injured and Griffin has never been the same since. Griffin was even named to the Pro Bowl that season, but had to skip it thanks to the ACL and LCL injuries.

In 2013, there were questions about whether or not Griffin would be ready for the season, but he did start and played tentative the entire season. It was clear that his injuries did more to effect his psyche than anything. Shanahan benched Griffin at the end of the season for Kirk Cousins and then the Redskins fired Shanahan. In 2014, Griffin was hurt again and has been shunned all season by his new head coach, Jay Gruden. When Colt McCoy was injured and placed on the IR list, Griffin was back in the starting lineup.

The Eagles Win

In his first game since his return to the starting lineup, Griffin lost to the New York Giants, although he did throw for 236 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. However, his second game gave the Redskins a win and it was in the role as a spoiler as they eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention. In that second game, Griffin threw for 220 yards and one interception, with no touchdowns. It was also nice to see him running the ball again, with Griffin running five times in each game for a total of 57 yards.

His numbers might not be the best, but Jay Gruden actually gave Griffin a rare compliment, saying that he managed the game well. Regardless of the back-handed compliment, Griffin won his second game of the season, a rare win for his Redskins.

Jay Gruden

The idea heading into the end of the 2014 NFL season was that either Robert Griffin III was leaving the Redskins or Jay Gruden would be fired. This was Gruden’s first season as head coach, so there isn’t much of a chance of him leaving the team, but don’t expect Griffin to just sit on the bench for the 2015 NFL season in Washington. Something has to give, and a win over the Dallas Cowboys, with Griffin at quarterback, could go a long way to cure the ill will caused by Gruden’s mouth.

The History

The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins have arguably the most heated rivalry in NFL history. They have hated each other since before the Cowboys were even a franchise. It all stemmed as a result of the Redskins’ owner trying to block the Cowboys from even coming into the NFL and exploded when Dallas took the Redskins quarterback in the expansion draft due to an accident by the Redskins, who forgot to protect him.

Since then, there have been instances on the field that heated things up and moments off the field that are things of legends. In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys only won one game in the season, and it was over the Redskins, which cost the Redskins a playoff spot by that one win. This season, the Cowboys have been on a tear as one of the best teams in the NFL, but the three-win Redskins actually beat Dallas earlier in the season. This is a game that either team can win, regardless of record.

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.