Morris carries Redskins, sets record

Morris carries Redskins, sets record
December 31, 2012, 2:30 am
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Morris: 'It's an honor to pass Clinton Portis' record.'

In summary: Growing up, Alfred Morris looked up to former Redskins running back Clinton Portis.

Now it’s Portis who’s looking up to Morris – in the record book, that is.

With 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries in Sunday’s 28-18 victory over the Cowboys, Morris surpassed Portis for the best rushing season in franchise history. He now has 1,613 yards; Portis set the previous mark of 1,516 in 2005.

“It was special,” Morris said. “It never really was on my mind about the record. I don’t want to discredit it. It was special to pass Clinton Portis’ record. I guess you can call myself a fan of Clinton Portis. He told me before the game, ‘I want you to break the record.’”

“Coming from where I came from,” Morris added. “I’m just thankful and it’s just a humbling experience and I’m thankful to be here.”

Portis, meantime, had a message for Morris. Shortly after the rookie broke his mark, Portis tweeted: “congrats to my young homie … job well done sir!!! Big fan & the sky is the limit HTTR.”

With his first touchdown of the night – a 17-yarder in the second quarter – Morris also broke the Redskins’ record for touchdowns by a rookie. It was his 11th, one more than Hall of Famer Charley Taylor in 1964.

Morris also became the first Redskins’ rookie to rush for 200 yards and first Redskin to reach that plateau since Gerald Riggs’ team-record 221 yards against the Eagles in 1989.

Individual achievements, however, were not the reason Morris couldn’t stop smiling in the locker room.

“We definitely believed [even though] all odds were against us,” he said. "We had faith in each other and we put self in the background. We became a selfless team and we put ourselves in a playoff situation, taking one win at a time to get to the playoffs. And we’re here now.”

Turning point: The Redskins were clinging to a 21-18 lead in the final minutes, when linebacker Rob Jackson did what he’s been doing for much of the season’s second half: he made a clutch play.

Jackson picked off Tony Romo’s pass into the flats at the Dallas 27-yard line, setting up the game-winning drive for the Redskins.

“He threw the ball right to me,” Jackson said. “I made a play on it. [But] it wasn’t really anything that I did.”

During the winning streak, the Redskins’ defense has forced 15 takeaways after picking off Romo three times.

Offensive play of the game: With the Redskins’ lead whittled to 14-10 in the fourth quarter, Morris burst through the heart of the Cowboys’ defensive front, made one cut and then was off to the races. Thirty-two yards later, he was in the end zone and Washington was ahead 21-10.

“For him to play at that level for a full 60 minutes and get 200 yards, with over six yards per carry, is really a testament to not only him, but the guys blocking for him,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.

Defensive play of the game: The Cowboys moved into scoring position on their first drive, but rookie cornerback Richard Crawford made sure they didn’t get any points. Crawford secured his first career interception at the Redskins’ 17-yard line.

Special teams play of the game: Dallas had just pulled to within three points in the fourth quarter, when Niles Paul fielded a kickoff two yards deep in the end zone. Paul returned the ball 48 yards to the Redskins’ own 46.

Although Washington didn’t score on the ensuing drive, the long return flipped the field and resulted in the Cowboys starting deep in their own end. Jackson’s interception a few plays later helped clinch the win.

Game ball: Shanahan handed the game ball to Morris, of course.

Injury report: Guard Kory Lichtensteiger suffered a sprained left ankle injury in the third quarter. And although he returned briefly, he eventually returned to the sideline for the remainder of the game. Afterward, he left the locker room wearing an immobilizer boot. “I think with a week of treatment, take it easy for the next couple of days, I think it will be all right,” he said.

…Safety Madieu Williams sustained a hyperextended left elbow and a let shoulder injury but returned to the game. He said he was considerably sore afterward but hopes to play Sunday.

…Cornerback D.J. Johnson also suffered a knee injury but no update was provided on his status.

Quote of the day: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “I would say that they were the better team. They played like it. They deserve what they’re getting. Hats off to the entire organization. They’ve done something pretty phenomenal to come back like they have with the season they started with.”

Quote of the day, No. 2: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: “It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when I threw that interception at the end. That will eat at me for weeks.”

By the numbers: The Redskins are the fourth team since 1990 to earn a playoff berth after opening the season 3-6.

By the numbers, No. 2: Griffin set the rookie records for passer rating (102.4) and percentage of passes intercepted 1.3