Cowboys again fall short in do-or-die game

Cowboys again fall short in do-or-die game

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys passes during warm-ups prior to their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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by JOE TRAHAN

Bio | Email | Follow: @joetrahan

WFAA/Associated Press

Posted on December 30, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 31 at 1:47 AM

LANDOVER, Md. (WFAA/AP) — RG3 and the Washington Redskins are NFC East champions.

Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-18.

The Redskins are 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven straight since their bye week. Washington is the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 to make the postseason since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.

"It's obviously very disappointing for our team when we came here to win the ball game," said head coach Jason Garrett during the post-game press conference.

The Redskins would have been out of the postseason with a loss. Instead, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Dallas finished 8-8, stumbling in a do-or-die end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.

Dallas struck first in the second quarter, though, capping off a 89 yard drive when Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for a nine yard touchdown. Romo had enough time on the play to survey the entire field and finally found Witten in the middle of the end zone. Television replays showed he had more than eight seconds to complete the play.

The Redskins answered the score with Mike Shanahan's vintage ground-chewing attack. The Redskins marched 68 yards in 4 and half minutes with rookie runner Alfred Morris carrying most of the workload. He racked up 45 yards rushing on 4 carries during the drive, including a 17 yard cutback scamper that tied the score at 7.

Both the Cowboys and Redskins blew scoring opportunities in the first quarter. Romo threw a pair of interceptions deep in Redskins territory in the first 15 minutes. The Cowboys blew a golden opportunity on their first drive of the game.

Dwayne Harris' 28 yard punt return set up the Cowboys deep in Redskins territory. But on third down Romo was picked off by Washington's Richard Crawford, effectively snuffing out the threat.

Romo's second interception was a horribly under-thrown attempt for Miles Austin streaking down the sideline. His third came in a critical time, with his team driving down the field down three points. That led to yet another Morris touchdown –– the proverbial nail in the coffin for the ailing Cowboys.

Morris finished the year with 1,613 yards, topping Clinton Portis' 1,516 in 2005. He was especially dominant in the Redskins' go-ahead drive in the third quarter, when six plays were runs by Morris and the other three involved fake handoffs to him.

The touchdown came when Griffin faked to Morris — one of several times linebacker DeMarcus Ware was totally fooled by deception in the backfield — and ran 10 yards around the left end. It put Washington ahead 14-7 in the third quarter.

The Cowboys answered with a field goal early in the fourth, but Morris' 32-yard scamper gave the Redskins a 21-10 cushion with 10:32 to play.

Trying to play catch-up, Dallas pulled within three on a 10-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree and a 2-point conversion with 5:50 to play. But Morris' third touchdown, a 1-yard run with 1:09 left, sealed the win.
Playing against a defense missing its five best run defenders, the Redskins didn't need Griffin to throw much. He completed just 9 of 18 passes for 100 yards.

The Redskins were calling designed runs for Griffin as a regular part of the game plan for the first time since he sprained his right knee four weeks ago. He lacked the explosiveness he showed earlier in the season, perhaps hampered by his big brace, but he was still a running threat.
Romo completed 20 of 31 passes for 218 yards.

The Cowboys also dealt with in-game injuries to receivers Miles Austin (left ankle) and Dez Bryant (back). Bryant, who had a torrid second half of the season despite breaking his left index finger, had four catches for 71 yards.

The Redskins also set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season with 14, fewer even than the 1982 team that played only nine regular-season games because of a players strike.

Washington's slow start this season prompted coach Mike Shanahan to dismiss playoff hopes and declare the remaining seven games would determine which players would be on his team "for years to come."

Griffin and his teammates had other plans, and the coach quickly changed his tune. Now the Redskins are in the postseason for the first time since a wild-card berth under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs in 2007.

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