LANDOVER, Md. — Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris needed only four months to put the Washington Redskins in a place they haven’t been this millennium — on top of the NFC East.
Led by a pair of rookies serenaded loudly and lovingly as “R-G-3!” and “Al-fred Mor-ris!,” the Redskins claimed their first division title since 1999, beating the archrival Dallas Cowboys, 28-18, Sunday night in a winner-take-all finale to end the NFL’s regular season.
First-round pick Griffin ran for 63 yards and a touchdown, and Morris — the out-of-nowhere sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic — ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns. He set the franchise single-season rushing record for the Redskins (10-6), who revived their season behind the quarterback’s talent and leadership to win seven games in a row after their bye week. They are the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 to make the playoffs since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.
Washington will play host to the Seattle Seahawks at 1 p.m. Sunday. It will be the Redskins’ third consecutive playoff game against the Seahawks. They lost at Seattle in the postseason after both the 2005 and 2007 seasons.
Dallas (8-8) will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season, having stumbled in a make-or-break end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.
Tony Romo threw three interceptions — matching his total from the previous eight games combined. A poor throw was picked off by Rob Jackson when the Cowboys had a chance to drive for the winning score in the final minutes.
Morris finished with 1,613 yards, topping Clinton Portis’ 1,516 in 2005. He was especially dominant in Washington’s 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 Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware was fooled by deception in the backfield — and ran 10 yards around the left end. It put the Redskins ahead 14-7 in the third quarter.
Dallas answered with a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Morris’ 32-yard scamper gave Washington a 21-10 cushion with 10:32 to play.
Trying to play catch-up, the Cowboys cut their deficit to three points 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 remaining, sealed the win.
Playing against a defense missing its five best run defenders, the Redskins didn’t need Griffin to throw much. He completed nine of 18 passes for 100 yards.
Washington was 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. Griffin lacked the explosiveness he showed earlier in the season, perhaps hampered by his big knee brace, but he was still a running threat.
Romo completed 20 of 31 passes for 218 yards, but failed to become the first Dallas Cowboys quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards.