ES Coverage & Interactive Game Day Thread: 2012 Redskins vs Cowboys
Redskins 28 - Cowboys 18
Honestly, is there any other way the regular season could have ended?
Ever since week one when the Redskins shocked the world by beating the New Orleans Saints, this has been a special season. After the much publicized trade to draft him and the numerous endorsement deals he signed before ever taking a snap, expectations were high for Robert Griffin III. But even the most optimistic of Redskins fans didn't really expect things to turn around this quickly. No one expected the Redskins to have a shot at winning their division and making a playoff run this year.
Especially when the team went 3-6 and it seemed like the season was lost. Coach Mike Shanahan made his infamous comments about switching to evaluation mode, which convinced the media and most fans that he and the team were ready to give up on this season. Meanwhile, RGIII promised that he and the team would get better after the bye week ... and the crazy thing is that they did.
The team has been on a completely unexpected winning streak. They find themselves at the top of the NFC East with their Pro Bowl nominated quarterback ready to lead them in a playoff run. They've completely reenergizer this town and they've got the entire league taking notice.
Only one obstacle remains - the Redskins hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys too have somehow hung in there and are just one step behind the 'Skins. Even after they lost last week, all they have to do is win this final game to snatch the NFC East away from the Redskins, like Lucy yanking the football away from an always unsuspecting Charlie Brown.
Hollywood couldn't have scripted this any better. It feels like the final act of an epic sports movie. It's the Cleveland Indians going against the New York Yankees at the end of Major League or the Texas State University Fightin' Armadillos taking on the Texas Colts at the end of Necessary Roughness. It's an epic showdown worthy of a big budget Hollywood film (in which RGIII would undoubtedly play himself).
Let's hope it ends like a Hollywood movie with the good guys winning and heading into the playoffs and not in a tragic Bad News Bears moment. Whatever happens though, it's bound to be the most exciting game played at FedEx Field in quite some time (or, depending on how you weigh this against the playoff game in 1999, possibly ever). And while I'm far too nervous to make a prediction on the outcome, I'll just say that with the pressure high and the entire season on the line, I'm glad to be rooting for the team with RGIII under center instead of the one with Tony Romo.
7:00 PM - The press box is insane. Where they normally have tables set up for dining, they have added auxiliary press seats. The tables have no view of the actual field, instead they are just facing a bank of televisions. The press box is absolutely packed.
7:02 PM - They do this thing every week in the press notes called "A win would ..." The first three bullet points say it all: "1) ... give the Redskins their first NFC East title since 1999. 2) ... be the Redskins' 14th division title in team history. 3) ... result in the team's first playoff berth since the 2007 season."
7:28 PM - The parking lots were all packed when I arrived. Lots of energy out there. People are slowly starting to trickle into the stadium now.
7:31 PM - Sal Paolantonio is sitting in front of me in the press box. I just overheard him picking the Cowboys to win.
7:54 PM - According to the press box announcer, its 38 and cloudy with nine MPH winds right now.
8:26 PM - Fans are chanting: "RGIII! RGIII! RGIII!"
8:31 PM - And away we go ...
8:33 PM - The Redskins burn a timeout on their second play of the game.
8:34 PM - And after two running plays and a dropped pass, they go three and out to start.
8:35 PM - Dallas starts their opening drive from the Redskins' 29-yard-line. This is certainly not the way we were all hoping this one would start.
8:37 PM - And Tony Romo kindly decides to change the momentum by throwing the ball right to Richard Crawford. Thanks Tony Romo in December.
8:44 PM - And Kai Forbath's streak comes to an end as he misses a 37-yard field goal.
8:53 PM - Tony Romo with his second interception of the day. This one is to Josh Wilson.
8:57 PM - RGIII with a couple uncharacteristically scary throws this drive.
END OF FIRST QUARTER
9:17 PM - And the Cowboys are first to get points on the board. 13 plays, 89 yards, seven minutes and 37 seconds ending in a nine yard pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten. 0-7
9:28 PM - That drive was all Alfred Morris. He caps it off with a 17-yard run into the endzone. Alfred Morris just broke 1500 yards for the season. Only he and Clinton Portis have done that for the Redskins. It's also Morris' 11th touchdown of the season, breaking Charlie Taylor's 1965 rookie record. 7-7
9:41 PM - And Dallas decides to punt instead of going for a long field goal on the same end of the field that Forbath missed one.
9:42 PM - And the Redskins are content to run the clock out instead of taking a shot down the field with 38 seconds left.
9:52 PM - Kai Forbath is out on the field practicing 45 yard field goals during halftime.
10:06 PM - You've got to catch that, Garcon.
10:11 PM - Richard Crawford with a great tip on third down to end Dallas' drive.
10:12 PM - And DeAngelo Hall returns the punt. It looks like Crawford may have been shaken up on that last play.
10:15 PM - Alfred Morris just set the Redskins single season rushing record, beating Clinton Portis' 1,516 in 2005.
10:20 PM - And a "Let's go Morris" chant just broke out.
10:24 PM - RGIII can still run when it counts. On a drive that was mostly Alfred Morris, Griffin rushes in with a 10-yarder for the score. Nine plays, 82 yards, five minutes and 14 seconds. 14-7
10:27 PM - And London Fletcher drops what could have been Tony Romo's third interception of the day. He looks frustrated with himself.
END OF THIRD QUARTER
10:35 PM - Dan Bailey connects with a 48-yard field goal to cut the 'Skins lead to four. 10 plays, 44 yards, four minutes and one second. 14-10
10:42 PM - With RGIII's 17-yard run, the Redskins set a new team record for rushing yards in a season. The previous record was 2,625 in 1983.
10:43 PM - Alfred Morris with an electrifying 32-yard rush for a touchdown. That one got the crowd excited. got Six plays, 74 yards, three minutes and 37 seconds. 21-10
10:45 PM - After tonight, the national media might actually have to start talking about the season Alfred Morris is having.
10:50 PM - The first flag of the day comes midway through the fourth quarter - and it's a holding call on Dallas. The Redskins decline it thanks to a sack by London Fletcher on the play.
10:54 PM - And shortly thereafter, Trent Williams gives the Redskins their first penalty of the day - a false start.
10:56 PM - The penalty floodgates are opened now. Sav Rocca is flagged for attempting to rip a guy's head off. He saved a touchdown on the return though.
10:58 PM - Today's announced attendance is 82,845.
11:00 PM - Romo connects on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ogletree. The Cowboys go for two and convert with a pass to Dwayne Harris. Three plays, 16 yards, 45 seconds. 21-18
11:06 PM - Four minutes left, third-and-eight - the Redskins need to convert this.
11:10 PM - December Tony Romo comes through in the clutch.
11:15 PM - And a personal foul penalty on third down keeps the Redskins' drive alive.
11:21 PM - And that's the ballgame. Alfred Morris with the dagger touchdown to end the game. 28-18
To see ExtremeSkins game photos click HERE
To listen to comments from Lorenzo Alexander click HERE
To listen to comments from Stephen Bowen click HERE
To listen to comments from Barry Cofield click HERE
To listen to comments from Chris Cooley click HERE
To listen to comments from Richard Crawford click HERE
To listen to more from Richard Crawford click HERE
To listen to comments from London Fletcher click HERE
To listen to comments from Rob Jackson click HERE
To listen to comments from Santana Moss click HERE
To listen to comments from Logan Paulsen click HERE
To listen to comments from Perry Riley click HERE
To listen to comments from Nick Sundberg click HERE
To listen to comments from Trent Williams click HERE
To listen to comments from Josh Wilson click HERE
“How do you think it feels, man? It feels great, man. Victory is ours. We accomplished one of our goals. Just being able to get this franchise a division title, [that is] something that hasn't happened since 1999 and it feels good. We'll be having a home playoff game. What we've been able to accomplish this year, these last seven ballgames … Our men just focused in and were able to do something great.”
- London Fletcher
This isn't a word I use a lot, particularly not when discussing Redskins football, but to me this year has truly felt magical.
Ever since the Redskins acquired Robert Griffin III in the offseason and he lead the team to a surprising 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, it has seemed like the sky was the limit. Even when the team was 3-6 and Mike Shanahan made comments that convinced many fans he had given up on the season, it still didn't seem as bleak as previous years. There was a buzz around town. Games were suddenly exciting to watch.
Then the unthinkable happened. After going 3-6, they didn't lose again. They put together a seven game win streak and went from the bottom of their division. They finished 5-1 in the NFC East. And they secured a playoff spot in the last week of the season by beating the Cowboys in a primetime game with both teams' seasons on the line.
What's impressive isn't just that they beat Dallas by a comfortable margin with the eyes of the nation on them, it's that they did it when RGIII had an incredibly underwhelming performance. Coming into the game, Griffin had a 66% completion percentage and a 104.1 passer rating, which is insane for a rookie. But this week, he completed just nine of 18 passes for 100 yards and a rating of just 66.9. He did manage to get 63 rushing yards on six attempts and one rushing touchdown, but even with those stats, you'd be hard pressed to argue that he played what we've come to expect from a “typical” RGIII game.
Instead, it was the other rookie who shined today – Alfred Morris. Morris rushed for 200 yards on 33 attempts, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring three touchdowns. He also broke Clinton Portis' franchise rushing record (while Portis was there in the stadium to watch him do it). He finishes the regular season with 1,613 rushing yards. But most importantly, he was the guy in the fourth quarter that the team turned to to win the game. And his ability to punch the ball in for his third touchdown of the day with time ticking away in the fourth quarter was the dagger that officially ended any chance the Cowboys had of making a heartbreaking comeback.
While Shanahan will get a lot of credit for drafting these two rookies (and rightfully so), he's done something bigger than that this year. With the core group of guys he's brought into the organization, he didn't just find talented players who can excel on the field. He changed the culture here in Washington. This is a struggling franchise that has had only one playoff game at FedEx Field and it was played in 1999. There's an entire generation of people out there too young to remember the team's glory days under Joe Gibbs. There are people who only think of Redskins as perennial overspenders and underachievers. But Shanahan went out and found a group of guys who changed all that. They believe in him, they believe in the organization and they believe in themselves. And they are poised to do great things, either this year in the playoffs or in the next few years.
Of course, to continue the magical ride they have been on this year, they are going to have to beat the Seattle Seahawks next week at home. Recent playoff history is certainly not in the Redskins favor. But so far, this year has been all about throwing out the old history and starting a new chapter in the Redskins legacy. So while beating the Cowboys in primetime to secure a spot in the playoffs was a big step in overcoming the old obstacles that slowed down this franchise for so long, perhaps finally beating the Seahawks in the playoffs is just the next step in the journey.
Either way, it's just exciting to see the Redskins play football in January. And next Sunday afternoon, there's no better place to be than at FedEx Field to see what Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and the rest of the team have in store for us.