Alfred Morris saved his best game for the biggest stage, as the rookie running back rushed for a career-best 200 yards and three scores to help the Washington Redskins claim the NFC East crown with a 28-18 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday at FedEx Field.
Washington's playoff hopes seemed dim after the team opened the season with just three wins in its first nine games, but the Redskins reeled off seven straight wins to earn their 14th division title in team history and first since 1999.
"I'm really proud of this football team," Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. "For them to fight for seven weeks to put themselves in this position, it just says a lot about who they are and what level they played at for about seven weeks."
Morris carried the ball 33 times in the victory, while Robert Griffin III finished just 9-of-18 passing for 100 yards to go with 63 rushing yards and a score on six carries for the Redskins (10-6), who will host their first playoff game in 12 years when the Seattle Seahawks visit for an NFC Wild Card game next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (et).
Morris finished the regular season with 1,613 rushing yards to pass Clinton Portis (1,516) for first on the club's all-time single-season rushing list.
Tony Romo completed 20-of-37 passes for 218 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions, while DeMarco Murray added 76 yards on 17 carries for the Cowboys (8-8), who missed the postseason for the third consecutive season.
"Obviously very disappointing for our team," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said of the loss. "At the end of the day we didn't get the job done. They played better than we did and they deserved to win the ball game."
Jason Witten hauled in seven passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in the setback.
Washington led 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter before Dallas' Dwayne Harris returned a punt 39 yards to the Washington 31. A face mask penalty against Washington punter Sav Rocca moved the ball to the 16-yard line and the Cowboys capitalized three plays later, as Romo found Kevin Ogletree for a 10- yard touchdown.
Romo then rifled a strike to Harris for the two-point conversion to make it 21-18 with 5:50 to play.
Niles Paul returned the ensuing kick 48 yards, but Griffin was sacked near midfield on 3rd-and-8 and the Redskins were forced to punt.
Starting from the Dallas 15, Romo hit Witten for 14 yards, but on the next play, his swing pass intended for Murray was picked off by Rob Jackson, who returned it two yards to the Dallas 25.
Dallas quickly used its three timeouts and appeared to have Washington held to a field goal, but defensive lineman Jason Hatcher was whistled for roughing the passer on 3rd-and-7 to give Washington a fresh set of downs at the Dallas 12 with 2:35 to play.
Three plays later, Morris surged across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 28-18 and seal the outcome.
Early on, Dallas' first touch started from the Washington 27 following a Redskins three-and-out, but Romo overthrew Ogletree on 3rd-and-8 and the ball was intercepted by Richard Crawford to end the possession.
Griffin then lead the Redskins deep into Dallas territory with a 9-yard sprint on 3rd-and-4 to the Dallas 27. Washington would come away empty as well, though, as Kai Forbath's 37-yard field goal hit the right upright, marking the rookie's first career miss after hitting his first 17 tries of the season
Dallas finally broke through early in the second quarter, as Romo kept the trek moving with a 25-yard completion to Harris on 3rd-and-6 to the Washington 49.
Four straight runs from Murray moved the ball to the Washington 9 before Romo bought time in the pocket and found Witten in the end zone for a 9-yard score to make it 7-0 with just under eight minutes left in the half.
Washington answered with a scoring march of its own, as Griffin and Morris moved the Redskins down the field before Morris capped the 8-play, 68-yard march with a 17-yard touchdown scamper to knot the game at 7-7 with 3:28 left in the second quarter.
Dallas made its way into Washington territory on its ensuing possession, but rather than try a deep field goal, the Cowboys elected to punt from the Washington 34 to send the teams into the break locked at 7-7.
Dallas punted on its opening touch of the second half before the teams exchanged three-and-outs to give possession back to the home team.
Starting from the Washington 18, Morris reeled off five straight runs, including a 22-yarder down to the Dallas 38.
Pierre Garcon then caught a pair of passes around a Morris run to move the ball inside the Dallas 10 before Griffin capped the drive with a 10-yard TD surge, faking a handoff and sprinting off the left side and into the end zone to give Washington a 14-7 edge with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
Dallas answered with a 10-play, 44-yard scoring drive spanning the third and fourth quarters, but back-to-back incompletions from Romo at the Washington 30 stalled the march and forced the Cowboys to settle for a 48-yard field goal from Dan Bailey to pull within 14-10 under a minute into the fourth.
The Redskins quickly responded, as Griffin rushed for 17 yards before back-to- back completions moved the ball to the Dallas 32. On the next play, Morris took a sweep to the left and cut it back up the middle en route to a 32-yard touchdown to provide Washington with a 21-10 advantage with 10 1/2 minutes left in the game.
The Redskins swept the season series for the first time since 2005 ... Morris broke Portis' record with a 10-yard run in the third quarter ... The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars were the last team to make the playoffs after starting a season 3-6 ... Griffin has rushed for 815 yards this season, making him the fourth QB in NFL history to rush for 800 in a single year ... Forbath's 17 consecutive field goals to begin his career was an NFL record ... Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant finished with four catches for 71 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with a back injury.