Behind Morris, RGIII, Washington wins NFC East to set up wild-card game with Seattle
It went from a fantasy to a possibility. And now it's a reality.
The NFC East belongs to the Redskins.
And that's a sentence nobody thought would be written seven weeks ago. But after a 28-18 win over Dallas on Sunday night, the Redskins are headed to the postseason.
|NFC wild-card game|
|Seahawks at Redskins|
|When » Sunday, 4:30 p.m.|
|Where » FedEx Field|
|TV » Fox|
Linebacker Rob Jackson's leaping interception ended Dallas' last good chance and set up Alfred Morris' third touchdown to clinch the win, giving the Redskins their first division title since 1999 on a festive night at FedEx Field.
"This is the best feeling I have ever had. I'm at a loss for words," Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said.
The Redskins (10-6) will host Seattle at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday in the first round of the playoffs. Washington is making its first playoff appearance since 2007. Since then, it has been a succession of frustration and losing seasons -- four in the last five years.
But the Redskins' season turned around after a crushing loss to Carolina that dropped them to 3-6. Coach Mike Shanahan talked about evaluating his players. If that's the case, he must be pleased with the evaluation after they ripped off seven straight wins to close the regular season.
On Sunday, Morris rushed 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, killing Dallas on cutback runs. His 32-yard run early in the fourth quarter gave Washington a 21-10 lead. Morris also set the Redskins' single-season rushing record with 1,613 yards.
The Cowboys responded with a 10-yard Romo touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree over rookie cornerback Richard Crawford. Romo connected with Dwayne Harris for the two-point conversion, also against Crawford.
But it was not exactly Romo's night. The Redskins' aggressive defense harassed him with blitzes much of the night and caused him to throw early or too fast and miss targets. He entered the game with three interceptions in his last eight games; the Redskins picked off three Sunday. His last pick came vs. a blitz, and he failed to get the ball over the leaping Jackson in the left flat.
"I saw the ball and went and got it any way I could. ... He didn't expect me to peel off on the running back," Jackson said.
With both Minnesota and Chicago winning, beating Dallas was the Redskins' only way to clinch a playoff spot.
The Redskins' defense did what it needed to -- and more -- in the first half. After a 28-yard punt return gave Dallas the ball on its first possession at the Washington 27, Crawford intercepted an overthrown Romo pass.
The Redskins drove to the Dallas 19, but rookie kicker Kai Forbath missed his first field goal attempt of the season, a 37-yarder that bounced off the right upright.
The next interception came from an underthrown Romo pass on a deep ball to receiver Miles Austin. This time, Josh Wilson picked it off at the Washington 14. But the drive ended in a punt.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Dallas struck first with an 89-yard drive that lasted 7:37. Romo connected with tight end Jason Witten from 9 yards on third-and-goal. The Redskins opted to rush three defenders, and Romo, facing no pressure, extended the play for eight seconds. Witten eventually wiggled free from linebacker Perry Riley for the score.
But the Redskins answered on their next drive, thanks in large part to Morris. He had two runs of 13 yards, both on good cutbacks. Then on first-and-10 from the 17, he bounced outside, getting key blocks from tight end Niles Paul, coming from the backside to slow linebacker Anthony Spencer, and receiver Joshua Morgan. Morris ran untouched around left end for the score.
"We feel we can beat anybody," Riley said. "We've won seven straight; there's no reason we can't win four more."