Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Sunday Night’s Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField:
The Redskins looked to cap off a miracle run with a victory lap tonight at home, in front of a national television audience, against a bitter division rival. As Redskins cornerback
Simply put, every positive step forward this season brought the Redskins to this point. However, anything short of victory tonight would ultimately seem disappointing, as the Redskins controlled their own path to the playoffs. The game started out physically, and lived up the expectation of one of the greatest games in this rivalry’s history.
Redskins running back
PLAY OF THE GAME
PLAYER OF THE GAME
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--In another life, Redskins punter
-- With his first-half touchdown, Redskins running back Alfred Morris broke the rookie franchise mark for touchdowns (10), set by future Hall of Famer Charley Taylor in 1964. Individual accolades aside, Morris has scored seven touchdowns in the last four weeks, his best stretch of the season. If not for Robert Griffin III, Morris would be the talk of Washington, and remains a viable candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year.
--The Redskins' defense intercepted three passes on the day, two in the first half, quickly securing the team’s seventh multi-interception game of the season. This is the most by the Redskins since 1999, the last time the Redskins hosted a home playoff game.
--Redskins kick returner
--Redskins receivers caught only half of Griffin III’s pass attempts, but were clutch in moments of need. Veteran receiver
--Redskins safety Madieu Williams shook off an arm injury early in the game to lead the team in solo tackles, with eight. Williams may not have been slated as a full-time starter in training camp, but his consistent play at the back end of the defense is a major reason why the Redskins find themselves playoff-bound.
WHAT WENT WRONG
--Cowboys receiver/returner Dwayne Harris had a big day on the Redskins, logging a 112 return yards and a critical 25 yard reception on the first touchdown drive. The Redskins have struggled against speed in recent weeks, most notably giving up a 69-yard touchdown to Cleveland Browns returner/receiver Travis Benjamin in Week 15.
--The Redskins’ struggles against tight ends have been masked by wins this season, but the defense struggled again this week against former All-Pro Jason Witten. Coming into today’s game, Witten had 87 receptions for 1,004 yards and five touchdowns against the Redskins in 17 career games. He extended those numbers, hauling in seven receptions for 56 yards and the first touchdown of the game.
The Redskins led the NFL in rushing for the second half of the season, and rode a monster performance to their first NFL team rushing title since 1933. The Minnesota Vikings were the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL and finished with 2,634 yards, keyed by Adrian Peterson.
The Redskins also set the franchise team rushing mark, surpassing the 2,625 from 1983.
With a win, the Redskins secured their first trip to the playoffs since the 2007 season, and will host the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on FOX. As most fans will remember, the Redskins have had each of their last two playoff runs cut short in Seattle, but the Redskins will look to reap the benefits of the home team in this year’s game. The game will feature two rookie quarterbacks enjoying stellar seasons, with Robert Griffin III leading the Redskins against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Since the team’s Week 10 bye, the Redskins have found a calm, businesslike demeanor in their victories. Never pausing to celebrate more than 24 hours, the Redskins have won seven-straight thanks to an unparalleled focus on and off the field.
Tonight’s victory was the biggest victory of all because it put the Redskins in the playoffs for the first time in an NFL generation. Riding the rookie performances of Alfred Morris, Robert Griffin III, Richard Crawford and others, the Redskins swept their arch-rival in the ultimate do-or-die contest.
The Redskins are the NFC East Champions for the first time since 1999, and will look to continue their winning streak next Sunday at home. It may have seemed hard to believe when this team was 3-6 at the bye week, but this is starting to look like a team of destiny. With any luck, bigger wins are still to come.