Before the season began there were a host of predictions that the Redskins wouldn’t just be worst than last season, but that they would be the worst team in the NFL. They did after all have a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back sharing the same backfield, an offensive line filled with very few names that inspire any confidence, and a secondary that was highly suspect in 2011 and lost two safeties. With the Redskins heading into the bi-week at 3-6 even Mike Shanahan was ready to move to evaluation mode and find out what players were going to help in the years to come.
The Redskins certainly found that out. Rob Jackson, Lorenzo Alexander, Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Richard Crawford, Santana Moss, London Fletcher, Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris, and RGIII all stepped up after the bi-week and led the Redskins on a seven game win streak to end the regular season. The last game of that win streak came last night against the Dallas Cowboys. With RGIII still dealing with his knee injury and unable to be as effective a passer as normal it was up to his fellow rookie Alfred Morris to take over the game.
What Alfred Morris did in his rookie season is overshadowed by the presence of RGIII, but it could be said that as good a quarterback that RGIII is Morris may be a better running back. Morris is now the Redskins all time leading rusher and when they needed him most last night he stepped up in a big way. With Griffin only passing 18 times with 9 completions for 100 yards Morris was the key to the Redskins offense. Against a Dallas team that at many times had to know Morris was coming right at them he ran for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns on 33 attempts.
With the Redskins RGIII is always a factor even when he isn’t fully healthy and the zone read option opens up holes for both he and Morris. RGIII ran the ball himself 6 times for 63 yards. To put this into perspective Morris averaged 6.0 yards a carry and RGIII 10.5. With the Redskins inability to pass the Cowboys had to know runs were coming, but what they didn’t know was who had the ball in their hands. Watch RGIII on the fake hand-off. The ball is in Morris’ gut with his arms wrapped around it before RGIII pulls it back out. The entire defense has to freeze for that moment and it is then when RGIII decides who should have the ball.
As great as RGIII and Morris have been all season lone the defense deserves a lot of credit for the seven game win streak. The Redskins since the bi have allowed an average of around 20 points a game and have created turnovers. Last night was another example of what the Redskins defense can do. Richard Crawford, Josh Wilson, and Rob Jackson all had key interception, and while the Redskins were unable to turn the first two into points they both came with the Cowboys driving and took points and the ball away from the Cowboys. In total the Redskins won the time of possession battle 33:26 to 26:34.
The Redskins stepped up and did what they had to to put away the Cowboys. The play of Alfred Morris and the defense should be the focus as to why the Redskins won the game, but think back to last season and the biggest flaw of the Redskins offense. It was that they turned the ball over too much. Rex Grossman couldn’t stop himself from turning the ball over. The game against the Cowboys is one of the worst of RGIII’s young NFL career and he had zero interceptions. Even when RGIII isn’t helping the team he also isn’t hurting them, and that allowed Alfred Morris to take over and lead the Redskins to their first NFC title since 1999.