By Kevin Ross
A Super Bowl birth is a realistic possibility for the winner of this Sunday’s competition between the Seahawks and Redskins. The Redskins enter the game as the hottest team in the National Football League, and have every reason to believe that they can advance in the tournament. The odds are surprisingly stacked in the Redskins favor as they boast a championship level coaching staff, a Pro Bowl quarterback, an elite running back, and a defense that generates turnovers. However, out of all the above, the key to Washington’s playoff run will rest in the hands of Alfred Morris.
If you study the history of Mike Shanahan’s Super Bowl wins, you’ll easily see that Terrell Davis (not John Elway) carried those teams to victory. The quarterback will always make the headlines and receive national accolades, but under Mike Shanahan it’s the running back that engines his teams ahead. When John Elway won his first Super Bowl in 1997, the heralded quarterback only completed 13-of-22 passes. And it’s sometimes forgotten that it was Terrell Davis’s 157 yards of rushing, and three-touchdown performance that brought home the trophy.
It was a telling moment following last week’s win against Dallas, when Robert Griffin, who was miked-up for television, said that Alfred Morris is his Terrell Davis. Griffin, who grew up as a fan and student of the Denver Broncos, understands that it will be Morris who will determine the team’s success going forward. The play action pass is key to Mike-and-Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic offense. And without a strong running game there would be no deep passes from Elway to Rod Smith, or from Griffin to Pierre Garcon.
Alfred Morris, who finished second in the league in rushing behind Adrian Peterson, will be fed the rock early and often against Seattle. Morris has not shown any signs of slowing down and is remarkably very healthy for the amount of carries that he has taken this year. Morris took time to briefly talk about his health entering into the playoffs, saying “A little soreness. Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m a workhorse. I’ve told people many times. I was made for this.”
Morris will be ready to go against Seattle, and that should open things up for Griffin to take a few deep shots down the field. The Redskins offense has been poised all season long, and simply takes what the defense gives them. For instance, during the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas, the Cowboys were adamant on stopping the run which led to Griffin beating them with his arm. Last week, the Cowboys kept both safeties deep to prevent the big play so Washington methodically ran the ball with Morris and came out on top. The methodical Kyle Shanahan will employ the same philosophy against Seattle, and take what the defense gives him — it’s that simple.
“I’ve been playing football since I was five years old. That’s just what I do. So, I’m not going to think about who’s in the playoffs. I’m not going to think about what’s on the line because we’ve been in a playoff situation since our bye week and I don’t have time to think about that. I’m going to go out there and leave it all on the field and do everything I can to help my team win and we’re going to see what happens.” –Alfred Morris
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.