Instant Analysis: Redskins 28 Cowboys 18

Instant Analysis: Redskins 28 Cowboys 18
December 30, 2012, 10:45 pm
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Morris: 'It's an honor to pass Clinton Portis' record.'

Alfred Morris broke the Redskins’ franchise record for most rushing yards in a season and, for a moment in the third quarter, was serenaded by the capacity crowd at FedEx Field as fans chanted “Al-fred Mor-ris” for the first time.

And for good reason. Morris was the best player on the field in the biggest game of the season for both teams. The rookie rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns to carry the Redskins past the Cowboys, 28-18, and into the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The victory – Washington’s seventh in a row – also clinched the Redskins first NFC East title since 1999. As a result, they will host the Seahawks in the wild card round next Sunday at 4:30 – a reality that seemed almost unfathomable in November after they dropped to 3-6 following a listless loss to then-one win Carolina.

Getting there, though, didn’t come without some uneasy moments in the fourth quarter.

Tony Romo connected with Kevin Ogletree with 5:50 remaining and Dwayne Harris hauled in Romo’s two-point conversion pass, pulling the Cowboys to within 21-18.

It wasn’t enough. On the Cowboys’ next possession, Redskins’ linebacker Rob Jackson made his second interception in three games deep in Dallas territory. Jackson started the season as a reserve, but moved into the starting lineup after Brian Orakpo was lost to injury and, lately, has been one of the unit’s most reliable players.

The interception was Romo’s third of the game, which like so many other pivotal contests before it, is one he’d like to forget. Romo is now 1-6 in elimination games; a year ago the Cowboys lost a win-and-you’re-in regular season finale to the Giants. 

Despite the late scare, the night turned into a coming out party for Morris and Griffin. But, for a change, it was Morris taking the lead role.

Morris’ total bumped his season total to 1,613 and, more important, put him in the record book. With a 10-yard run in the third quarter, the sixth-round pick surpassed Clinton Portis, who rushed for 1,516 in 2005. Portis was in the attendance and tweeted, “congrats to my young homie …job well done sir!!! Big fan & the sky is the limit.”

Morris’ second touchdown of the game broke open a tense battle between bitter rivals. The rugged runner took a handoff from Griffin, broke left, then returned to the middle of the field, where he sprinted 32 yards down the middle for a touchdown that put the Redskins ahead 20-10 with 10:32 left to play.

In the second quarter, Morris scored from 17 yards out to knot the game 7-7. Then in the third, he and Griffin combined on a methodical drive that put the Redskins ahead 14-7 they would not relinquish. Griffin capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring run.

Morris' third touchdown came with 1:09 remaining and put the Redskins ahead 28-18.