The NFL Rookie of the Year race is now a three-headed dash to the finish line with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks looking like the main challengers to Washington Redskins rookie legend Robert Griffin III.
But all those gaudy stats that Griffin put up throughout the season will be for naught if the Redskins miss out on the playoffs. It is critical to his Rookie of the Year candidacy that Washington beats the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night to win the NFC East or makes the playoffs in another way.
Luck and Wilson already have their teams in the postseason, and RG3 sitting at home in January will be a critical deterrent in voters' minds.
The Rookie of the Year race is too close for Griffin to fall behind in this critical category. If Griffin is unable to clinch the playoffs then it will just provide more fuel for his haters, and his season would look flawed when compared to the other two main candidates.
Sure, RG3 should be the front-runner if you look at the stats. His quarterback rating of 104.1 is simply phenomenal, and he leads Luck and Wilson in completion percentage, average yards and interceptions. But the race is still incredibly tight and valid arguments can be made for both Luck and Wilson.
It is too close, and the Baylor product cannot give voters any reason to not select him. Missing the playoffs would be that huge dark mark against him.
It would show that Griffin couldn’t translate his personal glory into team success. But his challengers were able to do that.
It would be an unnecessary speed bump for the Redskins franchise quarterback. It might even be a fact he cannot overcome as the award is handed to someone else.
But if Griffin does turn in a magical performance on Sunday Night Football and get his team the first NFC East crown since 1999, the award suddenly becomes his to lose.
The Redskins versus Cowboys game is the last match that viewers see before the playoffs. If RG3 doles out what Russell Wilson did against the San Francisco 49ers, then he should be good. If RG3 provides a miraculous comeback a la Andrew Luck multiple times this season, then he should be good.
But if he stumbles, if Tony Romo shines, if the Washington Redskins lose and miss out on the playoffs then that might be too much ground for even Griffin III to cover.
I’m not saying that the Redskin doesn’t deserve to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation. He does and very much so.
I’m not trying to nullify a fantastic season that he had because that season was in fact incredible.
But Luck and Wilson also had fantastic seasons, and they are neck and neck with Griffin at this point. If they can do something that the man with fantastic socks was unable to do then they will look better in voters' minds.
Robert Griffin III cannot let that happen. He needs to do everything he can to provide a statement win for his Rookie of the Year candidacy.
That statement win is this week in prime time with the whole season on the line. This is where legends are made.
That game will be where a Rookie of the Year Award is won or lost.