Reporting Chuck Carroll
LANDOVER, Md. (CBSDC) — Following a dismal 3-6 start to the season, the Washington Redskins have completed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NFL history to win the NFC East and earn their first trip to the playoffs since 2007.
Led by Alfred Morris’ three touchdowns, the Redskins downed the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 to end their bitter rivals’ season and give Mike Shanahan his first trip to the postseason in his third year as head coach of the Redskins.
As has been the case all season, rookies led the way in a game that called for veteran leadership. Morris rushed for a career-best 200 yards on 33 carries and set the Redskins single-season rushing record in the process. The sixth-round draft pick surpassed Clinton Portis’ previous best of 1,516 set in 2005.
“I separated him in the locker room and said of all the guys, the guy that separated himself from the rest of the pack (was Alfred),” said Shanahan.
Morris managed to overshadow Robert Griffin III for the first time this season, gaining the majority of media attention following the game.
Griffin would finish the game a modest 9-of-19 for 100 yards and a 66.9 passer rating, but was all too happy to share his constant spotlight with Morris. The rookie passer added 63 yards on the ground in his first outing since being named to the Pro Bowl.
Shanahan said he could see Griffin’s knee was still ailing a little bit, though his star pupil wouldn’t admit it.
82,845 fans, including a smattering of Cowboys faithful, witnessed the slobber knocker between arch-rivals that would come down to the closing minutes of the 4th quarter.
A 39-yard Dwayne Harris punt return, coupled with a 15-yard touchdown-saving face mask, set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Kevin Ogletree and subsequent two-point conversion trimmed Washington’s lead to three with 5:50 remaining.
With momentum having shifted in Dallas’ favor, Rob Jackson handed Romo his third interception of the day.
“He did a great job,” said Shanahan. “Rob had the awareness there to take a man-to-man coverage with the type of blitz we had. Tony (Romo) had to get rid of it very quickly and anytime you’ve got a running back going against an outside linebacker, it’s usually a mismatch. Rob did a great job looking at it, being under control and making a big play.”
A roughing the passer penalty on Jason Hatcher gave Washington a critical first down after an attempted third down pass fell incomplete. From there, Morris scored his third touchdown of the night to secure the win.
Richard Crawford and Josh Wilson also recorded interceptions.
Following the Crawford interception, the first miss of Kai Forbath’s career squandered Washington’s first chance at points. His 37-yard attempt bounced off the right upright and fell to the ground. Prior to that point, Forbath was a perfect 17-for-17.
Unlike in years past, the missed kick would not come back to haunt the Redskins.
Washington will host the Seattle Seahawks — winners of five straight — next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Pete Carroll’s club narrowly missed capturing the NFC West, falling a half-game shy of the San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) at 11-5.
Listen here to what Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Trent Williams, DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson and Josh Wilson had to say following the win.
Mike Shanahan Postgame Audio
Robert Griffin III Postgame Audio
Alfred Morris Postgame Audio
Trent Williams Postgame Audio
DeAngelo Hall Postgame Audio
Ryan Kerrigan Postgame Audio
Rob Jackson Postgame Audio
Josh Wilson Postgame Audio