Rookie running back Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards on 33 carries and three touchdowns to carry Washington to a 28-18 win over Dallas to claim the NFC East title in front of a wild crowd at FedExField Sunday night.
Washington will host Seattle in next week’s wild-card game. It will be the Redskins’ first playoff appearance since the 2007 season and their first NFC East title since 1999.
Dallas finishes 8-8 for the second consecutive season and out of the playoffs. The depleted Cowboys also lost Dez Bryant to injury in the second half. Tony Romo passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.
Dallas pulled within 21-18 on Romo’s touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree and two-point conversion pass to Dwayne Harris.
After the defense made a stop, the Cowboys got the ball back with 3 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game.
However, on the second play of the drive, linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted Romo’s swing pass intended for DeMarco Murray. Seven plays later, aided by a roughing the passer call on Anthony Spencer, Morris scored on a 1-yard run to make it 28-18 with 1:09 left in the game. It was Jackson’s third touchdown of the game. He also set a club single-season rushing record, passing Clinton Portis’ mark of 1,516 set in 2005.
“My goal wasn’t to break the record. My goal was to make the playoffs,” Morris said. “I couldn’t have imagined to come in here in my rookie year and do what I’ve been able to do.”
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, playing on a gimpy leg, passed for 100 yards and rushed for 63 yards and one touchdown.
The Cowboys forced a three-and-out then got a 28-yard punt return from Harris to start the game at the Redskins’ 27.
Three plays later, Romo was intercepted by Richard Crawford who returned the ball to the Washington 29.
With the reprieve, Washington went to work.
Morris got the drive started with a 19-yard run and eventually carried five times and caught a pass on the 52-yard, nine-play drive to the Cowboys’ 19. On fourth down, Kai Forbath’s 37-yard field goal hit the right upright and fell no good.
Dallas quickly moved to the Washington 49 where on a second-and-5 play, Josh Wilson intercepted Romo, on a deep pass intended for Miles Austin, at the Redskins 14.
Washington got three first downs, but had to punt leaving the first quarter scoreless.
Dallas, mixing the run and pass, completed a 90-yard, 13-play drive that began at the end of the first quarter with Romo throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten for a 7-0 lead with 7:59 left in the first half. The drive included nine runs and four passes. Witten also caught his 800th career pass on the drive. On the touchdown, Romo had to dance in the pocket until Witten broke free in the middle of the end zone.
Washington answered with running yards in chunks. Washington moved 68 yards in eight plays to tie the game. Seven of the eight plays were on the ground with gains of 8, 13, 12, and 9. The touchdown came on a 17-yard, cutback run by Morris to tie the game at 7-7 at the 3:28 mark.
Dallas, beginning at its own 23, got a couple of first-down catches from Witten and Bryant to move to the Washington 34. Romo threw incomplete on third and 9 and punted on the next play.
Washington ran one play to end the first half.
The second half began with three punts with the Cowboys having the deepest penetration to the Washington 49.
Then Washington began its go-ahead drive. The Redskins drove 82 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. Washington ran the ball on seven of the nine plays. Morris set a club single-season record on the drive. The touchdown came on an option keeper around left end by Griffin to make it 14-7 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
Four plays in the fourth quarter, Dan Bailey made a 48-yard field goal to pull the Cowboys within 17-14 with 14:09 left in the game.
Washington quickly answered with a 74-yard, six-play drive. Morris got the touchdown on a 32-yard, cutback run. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game to give the Redskins a 21-10 cushion at the 10:32 mark.
Dallas had to punt away their next possession and lost Dez Bryant to injury.
Dallas held on defense and got a spark when Harris returned the punt 39 yards and got a personal foul penalty on Washington when punter Sav Rocca was called for a facemask while making the tackle.
On first down at the Washington 16, Murray gained 6 to the 10 then Romo threw incomplete.
On third down, Romo threw a touchdown to Ogletree. The Cowboys went for the two-point conversion and got it with a pass to Harris to make the score 21-18.
After the defense made a stop, Dallas took over at their own 15 with 3:35 left.
Two plays later, Rob Jackson intercepted a swing pass intended for DeMarco Murray at the Dallas 25.
A few plays later, Morris sealed the game on a 1-yard run.
Follow our coverage live on the Cowboys Corner blog and join the conversation through Twitter, Facebook and in the comments.