Reporting Grant Paulsen
Alfred Morris Carried The Redskins To Division Title.
Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns, compiling a season-high 33 rushing attempts while chewing up the Dallas Cowboys defense in a signature performance that will be talked about for years. The sixth-round pick broke the Redskins’ single-season rushing record with his 1,613 yards in 2012, finishing second in the NFL in yards (behind Adrian Peterson) and rushing touchdowns (behind Arian Foster).
During the Redskins’ seven-game winning streak, Morris elevated his play while taking on more responsibility as the focal point of Washington’s top-rated rushing attack. The workhorse carried the ball 20, 24, 22, 23, 27, 22 and 33 times in the Redskins’ last seven wins, compiling 100 or more yards in four of the team’s final six games.
Morris finished Sunday night’s nationally televised game with 35 touches for 212 yards to go along with his season-high three scores. After 16 weeks and 15 games of living in Robert Griffin III’s shadow, Morris steamrolled his way onto the national stage with one of the great individual performances in Redskins history.
Give Jim Haslett A Game Ball.
Washington’s defense has improved steadily as the season progressed, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett deserves major credit for his ability to scheme around personnel deficiencies. On Sunday night, Haslett employed more zero blitzes than the Redskins traditionally used in an effort to get the ball out of Tony Romo’s hand quickly. The plan worked.
Romo was forced into a plethora of incompletions and a pair of interceptions (he threw three in the game) based on the pressure that Haslett’s scheme and play-calling helped to create. Washington’s secondary stepped up to play one of its most impressive games of the season in coverage, with DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson both starring in isolation on the edges.
“Sometimes a coach says ‘I’m going to ask you to stand up and make some plays,’” safety Reed Doughty said. “They asked a lot on the back-end and I felt like we stepped up to the plate.”
Nose tackle Barry Cofield credited Haslett with Washington’s productive defensive performance. “It’s a credit to ‘Haz,” he said. “The coaching staff put us in a perfect position to play well tonight. My hat is off to them.”
RG3 Did Just Enough.
Robert Griffin continues to say that his knee feels fine and he’s not hindered by the sprained LCL that he suffered three weeks ago. That’s commendable of him to say. He doesn’t have to admit that he’s in pain. You can tell from watching him perform that he isn’t himself.
“He always tells me he’s fine,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “You could see that he was hurting even though he won’t admit that to me. It shows you what type of competitor he is to play at the level he did.”
For a second time in as many weeks, Griffin lacked the dynamic speed and explosive playmaking ability that make him one of the league’s most revered talents. But the rookie quarterback did rip off a pair of chain-moving, 17-yard runs for critical first downs while also rushing for a 10-yard touchdown.
As a passer Griffin had his most pedestrian game of the season, completing just 9-of-18 passes for 100 yards. Thanks to Morris’ 200-yard gem, Griffin didn’t have to throw for 300 yards or move the ball through the air with any type of regularity. His job was to protect the football and keep Washington’s offense on the field by sustaining long drives, and he did enough to carry out that task.
-London Fletcher posted his first two-sack game as a Redskin. The last time Fletcher tallied two sacks in a game came back on Dec. 4, 2005 while with the Buffalo Bills. The veteran linebacker had one sack through 15 games but finished the season with three, the most he’s ever compiled in Washington.
-Richard Crawford’s opening-drive interception was the first of his career. He told me that he was playing the slot in man coverage in a zero alignment. He read slant and shaded toward the center of the field, playing far enough off of the receiver he was responsible for to make a sure tackle short of the first down chains post-reception. Instead Tony Romo overthrew his target and the ball sailed right into Crawford’s hands.
-Rob Jackson’s fourth quarter interception sealed the game for the Redskins. Jackson – who now has four picks – said he saw Romo motion to his tailback pre-snap and was expecting him to dump the ball off if he got pressured. Perry Riley came free on a delayed blitz, Romo swung the ball out to his safety valve and Jackson was waiting. He made a leaping grab to secure the monstrous takeaway.
-The Redskins ran for 200 yards for the fourth time this season, gashing the Cowboys for a season-high 274 yards on the ground. Washington set a new franchise record with 2,709 rushing yards this season, topping the previous mark of 2,625 that was established back in 1983.
-The Redskins haven’t lost in 57 days.
-Washington is now 8-0 when Nick Sundberg snaps and 9-1 when Pierre Garcon is in the lineup.