(AP/ABC7) - There's huge excitement growing for tonight's big match-up between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. And much of the focus will be on the Redskin's rookie quarterback sensation RGIII.
Washington's Robert Griffin III is setting new standards for rookie quarterbacks with his talent, leadership and star power. Unless he has a bad day, he'll break the single-season NFL record for rookie passer rating, set by Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.
Even though he's from Texas and went to college at Baylor, Griffin didn't grow up with a dispassionate view of Cowboys-Redskins love-hate. Instead, he was a Denver Broncos fan.
"For guys like myself (and) the other rookies, we're fresh into this rivalry," Griffin said. "But we can definitely sense how the fans feel, how some of the guys who have been here for many years feel about the Cowboys, and that's the mindset we have to take on. We're doing it for them. We're doing it for the fans."
The game starts at 8:20 Sunday night and will be held at FedEx field. The mercury will plummet into the 20s for one of the coldest nights this season.
The NFC East rivals have met 105 times over 52 years. Twice they've met in the NFC championship game. Eight times they've met to end the regular season, including a 1961 Washington victory that kept the Redskins from going winless and the last NFL game at RFK Stadium in 1996.
Only once have they met in the final week with playoff implications for both teams. Dallas beat Washington 35-34 on Dec. 16, 1979, rallying from 13 points down in the fourth quarter with two touchdown passes from Roger Staubach. The Cowboys finished 11-5 and won the NFC East. The Redskins dropped to 10-6 and stayed home.
From jerseys to flags, the burgundy and gold is nearly everywhere you look these days. At the Vienna Inn, some die-hard fans are sharing some lunch and getting psyched to go to Sunday night's game.
"It's the most excited I've seen D.C. in the 20 years of my life and I just can't wait," says Charlie Pence. "Probably the most excited I've been to go to a game."
If you can't go to the game, local bars are hosting watch parties. Bailey's in Ballston says this will be their biggest night of the season.