Week 17: Cowboys at Redskins

December 30, 2012
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Week 17: It’s on to Week 18 against Seattle

Forget the improbability of a seven-game winning streak and a division championship. The Redskins move on to a playoff game next week against a familiar foe — the Seattle Seahawks.

Yes, Seattle. In the playoffs. Again.

The Seahawks ended Redskins’ playoff runs after the 2005 and 2007 seasons, but nothing is the same from those teams. The biggest difference, though, is in locale: The game will be played on the chewed-up turf of FedEx Field. Whether you prefer to think “third time’s the charm” or “they’re terrible on the road” or “this time, this Redskins team has Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris,” or “Pete Carroll is no Mike Shanahan,” there’ll be a week of spirited talk and rookie QB comparisons leading up to the game at 4:30 p.m. EST Sunday.

We’ll be here again on the live blog. Thanks for joining us.

Shanahan on Morris, the must-win and RGIII’s health

Mike Shanahan on Alfred Morris:

“I told our guys that to win as many games as we have, that would mean a lot of people are playing at a Pro Bowl level. But I separated him in the locker room and said of all the guys today he separated himself from the rest of the pack. For him to play at that level for a full 60 minutes and to get 200 yards and … right around six yards a carry really is a testament not only to him but to the guys for the guys blocking for him.”

Shanahan was asked if the Redskins knew they had to win the game:

“I’ll be honest with you. We didn’t talk about that one time throughout the whole week. … We never talked about the possibilities of getting in without winning. I know the guys are smart enough to know what’s out there, but it was never talked about.”

On Robert Griffin III’s injuries:

“He always tells me he’s fine. You could see that he was hurting a little bit even though he won’t admit that to me. That shows you what type of competitor he is to play at the level he did and orchestrate that type of performance being hurt a little bit. I didn’t see that during the week, to be honest with you. I didn’t see … him being a little bit — I don’t want to say being a little bit slower, but you could see he wasn’t his normal self when he was running. But he made big plays to give us a chance to win.”

Alfred Morris: This “is better than my wildest dreams”

Alfred Morris said that breaking the Redskins’ single-season rushing record on such a big stage was “better than my wildest dreams.”

“It’s a great feeling,” Morris told NBC’s Michele Tafoya. “To be honest, it was never my goal to come out here and break a record. It was always getting in the postseason. Coming from where I came from, with no one expecting nothing from you, and to do this on this level, on this stage, is just an honor. It’s a great feeling and I’m just thankful to be here.”

Morris touchdown all but seals it, 28-18

The Redskins moved a step closer to their first NFC East title since 1999 when rookie running back Alfred Morris scored his third touchdown of the night, giving Washington a 28-18 lead over Dallas with 1:09 remaining.

Morris’s run came on third-and-goal from the 1. He now has 33 carries for 200 yards.

As NBC just pointed out, only four other teams have made the playoffs after starting 3-6. Barring something exceptionally strange, the Redskins will finish the season with seven straight wins and will host Seattle next Sunday.

Jerry Jones stares into the deep abyss.


Truth About It sees the future.

While some D.C. sports fans were flashing back on some truly horrible Cardinals-Nationals memories, others had ESP:

Jackson intercepts Romo

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw his third interception of the game at the most important point.

Trailing by three points with three minutes left, Romo looked to his left from his own 29 for running back DeMarco Murray. But outside linebacker Rob Jackson — who has excelled while replacing the injured Brian Orakpo — stepped in front of the lobbed ball and picked it off.

The Redskins now can kill the clock. And if this score holds up, people must wonder what to make of Romo’s future in Dallas.

Romo finds Ogletree to pull the Cowboys within 21-18

Dallas pulled within a field goal of the Redskins with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game when Tony Romo found receiver Kevin Ogletree in the left corner of the end zone on third and 4 from the 10.

The ensuing two-point conversion — a pass from Romo to Dwayne Harris on the left side — pulled the Cowboys within 21-18.

The Redskins are still in position to grind out the clock on the next possession.

Dez Bryant heads for locker room

Dez Bryant is in the locker room after suffering a lower-back injury. Jason Witten was able to return, so we’ll see what kind of miracles the Cowboys’ training staff can work.

DeAngelo Hall MVP???

With all due respect to Cris Collinsworth, the MVP of this game is Alfred Morris.

“DeAngelo Hall,” he just said, “may be the MVP of this game.”

Fletcher sack of Romo snuffs Dallas possession

London Fletcher just made a brilliant sack of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo — a play that gives the Redskins a chance to take a huge chunk of time off the clock as they nurse a 21-10 lead.

On third and 10 from the Washington 37, Romo dropped back, and Fletcher — the 37-year-old inside linebacker — bull rushed up the middle. The 18-yard loss pushed the Cowboys well out of field goal range.

Santana Moss then took a turn as the Redskins punt returner — the second man to replace injured rookie Richard Crawford.

Morris touchdown gives Redskins 21-10 lead

Alfred Morris took a pitch left from quarterback Robert Griffin III and cut back to his right, eventually covering 32 yards for the touchdown that gave the Redskins a 21-10 lead with 10:41 left in the fourth quarter.

The play was keyed by pulling guard Chris Chester, a perfect example of Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking running scheme.

Morris now has 24 carries for 172 yards and two touchdowns. And someone raised the point: Where would he finish in the crowded rookie of the year race?

Lichtensteiger returns

The Redskins’ offensive line is back together. Left guard Kory Licthensteiger who came off the field during Washington’s previous possession and was examined on the trainer’s table, is back in his spot with the Redskins leading 14-10 in the fourth quarter.

Third-quarter takeaway: Rushing attack clicking

The Washington Redskins continue to pound the ball against Dallas in the third quarter and took their first lead of the game in the process.

Dialing up nine runs for 59 yards, the Redskins saw Alfred Morris break Clinton Portis’ single-season rushing record, and later on the same drive, Robert Griffin III ran 10 yards for his seventh-rushing touchdown of the season – and a play that put Washington up 14-7.

The Redskins have continued an ability to run the ball despite losing left guard Kory Lichtensteiger to a sprained left ankle. Rookie Josh LeRibeus took his place, and so far, the team hasn’t missed a beat.

The third quarter ended with Morris having gained 141 yards on 21 carries, and Washington as a team has 183 rushing yards on 28 carries.

 

Some stats through three quarters — including a weird one

The Redskins lead 14-7 after three, and are out-gaining the Cowboys 257 yards to 231.

A competitive game. But the strange thing: No penalties. Not a single penalty on either team.

Which could bring the discussion back to the Cowboys’ lone touchdown play — and the delay of game that wasn’t called.

Clinton Portis on Morris’s record

NBC has a social media correspondent for tonight’s game, former Redskins running back Clinton Portis.

While this choice might indicate that perhaps NBC was not entirely familiar with some of Portis’s antics in D.C., he tweeted a nice note when Alfred Morris broke his rushing record. This one was from the heart, not from Janky Spanky.

Griffin III touchdown puts Redskins up 14-7

Quarterback Robert Griffin III gave the Redskins their first lead of the night when he scored on a X-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.

Griffin, who hasn’t looked sharp passing the ball, ran to his left on first and goal from the 10.

With one play, he may have eliminated concerns about sprained lateral collateral ligament, which kept him out of the Week 15 game against Cleveland. Griffin now has 41 yards rushing and 74 yards passing.

Lichtensteiger out, rookie in

Veteran left guard Kory Lichtensteiger is on the sideline with what looks like some sort of leg injury. In his place is rookie lineman Josh LeRibeus.

The Redskins’ offensive line is perhaps the biggest reason for Alfred Morris’s success. Its consistency and continuity — right tackle Tyler Polumbus, right guard Chris Chester, center Will Montgomery, left guard Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams — has been a hallmark of this offense, and made it look like the kind of offense Mike Shanahan envisions.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Lichtensteiger’s injury has — or whether he returns.

Lichtensteiger questionable to return

Offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger has a left ankle sprain and is questionable to return to the game.

 

Morris sets franchise rushing record

Rookie running back Alfred Morris’ stellar season continues in record setting fashion as the Florida Atlantic product set franchise marks in yards gained and touchdowns scored for a rookie.

Entering Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys needing 104 yards to break Clinton Portis’ seven-year old franchise record for yards gained in a single season (1,516 in 2005), Morris surpassed the mark early in the third quarter.

Taking a handoff and gaining 10 yards, Morris broke his childhood idol’s mark and increased his total to 1,523 yards. Late in the second quarter, on a 17-yard touchdown run, Morris surpassed the 1,500-yard mark, and then needed only 12 more yards at halftime. Only Morris and Portis are the only two backs in Redskins history to rush for 1,500 yards or more.

With that touchdown run – a play that tied the game at 7-7 with 3:36 left in the second quarter – Morris picked up his 11th of the season, and in so doing, broke a 48-year-old team record for touchdowns scored by a rookie.

Charley Taylor in 1964 recorded five rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns, and until this season, the closest anyone had come to that record was eight (Skip Hicks in 1998).

D. Hall on punt return duty with Crawford hurt

Redskins rookie Richard Crawford, who has inherited punt return duties from Brandon Banks, is being tended to on the sideline at FedEx Field.

So when the Cowboys were forced to punt, starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall was back to receive it. Though he kind of bobbled the kick, Hall fell forward without a problem.

Hall hadn’t returned a punt all season. For his career, he has 15 punt returns — just two as a Redskin.

What’s up with the QBs?

When the Redskins beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, Tony Romo connected on 37 of 62 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns (and two interceptions). Robert Griffin III was 19 for 27 for 304 yards and three scores (with one pick).

Tonight? Headed into the Redskins’ first possession of the second half, both quarterbacks have struggled. Romo is 10 of 18 for 110 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Griffin is 5 of 11 for a mere 43 yards.

For now, this game — still tied 7-7 — is being decided on the ground.

Madieu Williams is back

Safety Madieu Williams, who hurt his shoulder in the first half, returned on the Cowboys’ first series of the second half. He had been listed as questionable to return.

 

Alfred Morris 12 yards shy of mark

Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris has 13 carries for 92 yards at halftime, leaving him 12 yards short of establishing Washington’s single-season record for rushing yards.

Morris now has 1,505 yards on the season. Clinton Portis gained 1,516 yards in 2005. If Morris didn’t play in the second half, or didn’t gain a yard — which seems just a tad unlikely — he would still rank second behind Portis on the all-time list. And that list is:

Clinton Portis, 2005 — 1,516 yards

Alfred Morris, 2012 — 1,505 yards (with a half left)

Portis, 2008 — 1,487 yards

Stephen Davis, 2001 — 1,432

Davis, 1999 — 1,405

Hines Ward: RGIII “looks very limited”

In his second game since hurting his lateral collateral ligament Dec. 9, Robert Griffin III hasn’t looked quite as nimble as he did pre-injury. He’s still wearing the big brace on his right knee and that restricts his movement some. Hines Ward talked about what he sees from RGIII during the halftime show.

“He looks very limited. I don’t know if it’s something that has to do maybe with the cold weather or whatnot, but he doesn’t have that burst that we’re all accustomed to watching RGIII make,” Ward said. “I think for head coach Mike Shanahan, he needs to adjust his gameplan and use the running back Alfred Morris because he’s having a whale of a ballgame.”

Morris has rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown.

How does RGIII look to you?

Second-quarter takeaway: Redskins respond to Dallas score with run-heavy drive

And we have a 7-7 tie at halftime.

The Cowboys were the first team to score in what had been a defensive battle up until that point. Dallas went 89 yards in 13 plays, eating 7:37 of clock, to score on a Tony Romo pass to Jason Witten.

There was a little controversy on that play, however. The play clock appeared to have expired before the snap, but referees missed it. The Redskins didn’t help themselves, either, though, rushing only three men and getting no pressure on Romo, who had time to work through his progressions, and back through them again before finding Witten in the end zone for a 9-yard strike.

The Redskins offense seemed to switch philosophies on the next possession, pounding the ball on six of eight plays, including the last five of the drive. Alfred Morris scored on a 17-yard run, set up by some nice blocking, and determined running of his own. On the play, Morris bounced the ball to the outside, and Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer crashed inside while tackle Trent Williams and tight end Niles Paul pinned defenders on the edge. Morris then outran safety Gerald Sensabaugh to the end zone.

With the run, Morris went over the 1,500-yard mark and became the second back in Redskins history to rush for as many yards in a season. After that carry, Morris needed only 12 yards to break Clinton Portis’ single-season rushing record.

With that touchdown, Morris also broke Charley Taylor’s 48-year-old record for touchdowns by a rookie. Taylor had five rushing and five receiving as a rookie. Morris now has 11 touchdowns – all rushing.

With the Cowboys’ defensive front plagued by injury, it’s clear that Washington can have continued success running the ball. Through one half, the Redskins already have 124 yards on 19 carries (6.5 yards per carry)

Um, you already HAVE Dallas

The chant “We Want Dallas” has historical significance. Not enough for Ken Burns to do a documentary on it, but still…fans at RFK chanted “We Want Dallas” throughout the entire NFC championship game in 1983, according to, like, people who were there. There are a lot of people chanting it tonight, too. They chanted outside FedEx Field before the game, lining up in front of the Diesel school bus by the orange lot as early as 4:45 p.m. Which made sense because the Cowboys buses were just starting to rumble into the parkiing lot. 

But why the chant continues after the game has started, I’m not sure. I mean, once the opening kickoff occurs, don’t you already HAVE Dallas? When it’s chanted after the game has started, it sounds more like affection, longing, as if someone missed Patrick Duffy or Larry Hagman.

Top 5 Better Chants During the Game for ‘Skins Fans Who Now Have Dallas:

5. (Derisively) “TO-NEE RO-MO!!!
4. (Religiously) “R-G-III! R-G-III!”
3. (Excitedly) “Al-Fred Mor-ris!!!” followed by three claps.
4. “We Want Sea-attle!”
5. And my personal favorite: “Your Season’s Over!!!” 

 

Redskins would host Seahawks at 4:30 p.m. Sunday

The league has announced the schedule for the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The Redskins, if they win tonight, would host Seattle at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

If Dallas wins, the Cowboys would host the Seahawks in that same time slot.

Cincinnati-Houston is the early game Saturday. Minnesota-Green Bay is set for Saturday night. Indianapolis-Baltimore is the early-afternoon game Sunday.

 

A lofty comparison for Trent Williams

When you’re having a Pro Bowl season, you get compared to great players, like Jonathan Ogden, on touchdown runs.

Remember Morris’s trivial pursuit

Given what’s at stake here — a division title and a berth in the playoffs, or the immediate arrival of the offseason — this might seem of little import, but it is an indication of what promise the Redskins have for the future.

Alfred Morris entered tonight needing 104 yards to set a new franchise record for most rushing yards in a season. Clinton Portis gained 1,516 in 2005.

Morris just tied the game with a 17-yard touchdown run, making it 7-7. It finished a dominating drive in the midst of what might be a dominant performance. Morris already has 92 yards on 13 carries — and we’re still in the first half.

The Redskins have 121 yards on the ground. That is a very, very good formula for them.

Madieu Williams questionable to return

The Redskins get even thinner at safety.

Didn’t the clock expire?

If the Redskins lose this game — IF — then there might be a bit of discussion about the Cowboys’ first scoring play, a pass to tight end Jason Witten.

First off: Should it have been a play at all? The FOX broadcasts suggests that the play clock may have expired before Tony Romo took the snap.

Secondly: Romo had a lot of time. A LOT of time. The Redskins only rushed three, and Washington covered well. But Romo may have had extra time because there was holding on the play.

Strange play. Will it be a game-changer?

NFL announces schedule for next week’s playoff games

The first-round playoff schedule is in. Plan accordingly:

Saturday

Cincinnati-Houston at 4:30 p.m.

Minnesota-Green Bay is at 8 p.m.

Sunday

Indianapolis-Baltimore at 1 p.m.

Seattle vs. Washington or Dallas 4:30 p.m.

First-quarter takeaway: Big defensive stands, but offense struggling

The Washington Redskins entered this game needing a big effort from their defense against the Dallas Cowboys, and the unit wasted little time doing its part. After a three-and-out by the offense, and a big punt return by Dallas’ Dwayne Harris that put the ball at the Washington 27-yard line, the Cowboys faced third-and-8, and Tony Romo threw an interception to cornerback Richard Crawford. Romo appeared to be going for Kevin Ogletree, but overthrew him badly, and instead threw the ball right into the bread basket of Crawford. That was Washington’s 19th interception of the season, and the first of Crawford’s career.

The Redskins couldn’t capitalize, however. The offense showed an ability to move the ball in their second possession, but wound up having to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt … but Kai Forbath missed the first of his career. The ball clanked off the right upright, ending his 17-kick streak.

The defense came up big again, however. Romo supposedly was going for Miles Austin on second-and-5 from the Washington 49, but he underthrew the ball so poorly, that Josh Wilson, who was in coverage, looked more like the receiver as he had better position on the ball and picked it off.

That’s gave the Redskins their seventh multiple-interception game of the season – tying a franchise record that was set in 1991.

Again the offense couldn’t capitalize, however, as another possession ended in a punt.

The first quarter ended with Griffin having having completed 4-of-9 passes for 35 yards. The quarterback hasn’t looked as sharp with his passes with several of them coming close to being intercepted. All year long, he has done a good job of taking care of the ball, but he appears a bit more reckless with it tonight. He does have two carries for 12 yards, but doesn’t seem to have the same burst. Alfred Morris has nine carries for 47 yards, and needs just 57 yards to break Clinton Portis’ franchise record for rushing yards in a season.

How bad has Romo been?

The stats tell the story:

Turnovers to tell the story?

Josh Wilson’s pick of a fluttering Tony Romo pass — Romo’s second interception in two Dallas possessions — puts an early spotlight on an issue that could decide this game. And we should have known it all week.

Dallas has talent, but the Cowboys entered tonight’s game with 10 more turnovers than takeaways. Now that falls to minus-12. Only two NFC teams — miserable Philadelphia and Detroit — have worse turnover margins entering this week.

The Redskins, on the other hand, are plus-14 — tied for third-best in the NFL, trailing only New England and Chicago.

This is either the best idea ever or …

Interesting choice. NBC, we salute you!

What could possibly go wrong?

Perfect no more

Better Kai Forbath’s streak end in the first quarter than with time running out in the fourth, right?

The rookie kicker from UCLA set an NFL record by hitting the first 17 field goal attempts of his career. But with a chance to get the Redskins on the board first, he clanked a 37-yard attempt off the right post.

Still scoreless. But maybe a burden is lifted for the kid?

Redskins could get Saturday night game if they win

The early talk around the league is that the Redskins probably would play the Saturday night game if they win tonight and host the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs next weekend.

If the Cowboys win and host Seattle, that likely would be the late Sunday game.

Cincinnati-Houston appears likely to be the early Saturday game and Indianapolis-Baltimore the early Sunday game.

Minnesota-Green Bay would be late Saturday or late Sunday, depending on whether the Redskins or Cowboys are playing.

All of that is unofficial, of course, and subject to change. The other possibility for the Redskins would be the late Sunday game.

 

 

In Dallas, they’re talking about a new QB

That interception by Richard Crawford of Tony Romo — with the Cowboys deep in Redskins’ territory — will have squawkers in Dallas talking already.

Remember when the Redskins had a situation in which the quarterback was questioned every week? Every. Single. Week.

This game has that feel as a referendum on Romo, in spite of his two interceptions and 10 touchdown passes this month, in Dallas. He can’t deliver, they say. The numbers are nice, but the wins aren’t there.

Whatever happens to Robert Griffin III tonight, the Redskins won’t be asking those questions. An amazing turnaround.

Taking a timeout already?

On the second play from scrimmage, the Redskins have to take a timeout because of helmet communication issues with Robert Griffin III. 

 

Playoffs start now?

Tonight could have been different. Remember just seven hours ago, when it was possible the Redskins could have qualified as a wild card BEFORE kickoff against Dallas?

Not now. Chicago beat Detroit. Barely. Minnesota beat Green Bay. Barely. But only the result counts, and that means Minnesota’s in as a wild card, and the six-team NFC field is set — except for the NFC East champ.

The winner of the Redskins-Cowboys game will host Seattle next week. And wouldn’t the networks prefer the Redskins in that case? How could you not have a Russell Wilson-Robert Griffin III festival all week.

But we get ahead of ourselves. Here we go.

Adrian Peterson finishes 9 yards shy of record

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson finished nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing recordN, set in 1984, but the Vikings qualified for the playoffs with a 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers. 

Overtime most likely would have given Peterson the record on the first anniversary his reconstructive knee surgery, but it was not to be. He gained 199 yards on 34 carries. Still, he managed to become only the seventh NFL player to top 2,000 yards. Dickerson’s record is 2,105 yards.

“I really can’t express it right now,” Peterson said, when Fox’s Pam Oliver asked how it felt to fall short of the mark. “I’d say it feels good to get a win. So many guys contributed today. We played our hearts out.”

As for being a mere nine yards shy of the record, Peterson was philosophical.

“Nine yards? Nine yards what? From breaking it? Ultimately we got the W and that was my main focus coming into the game. I said if it happens, it happens, but don’t focus on it.”

Dickerson was pretty happy, though.

View from the tunnel at FedEx

Tyler Polumbus expected to start at RT; S DeJon Gomes out

The Washington Redskins are expected to have right tackle Tyler Polumbus back in the lineup after a concussion sidelined him last week. Meanwhile, safety DeJon Gomes will be inactive despite practicing on a limited basis all week long.

Polumbus practiced off and on in a limited capacity the last two weeks but was held out of action last week, and Maurice Hurt started in his place. Gomes has split time with Reed Doughty and Jordan Pugh at free safety this season.

Also inactive for the Redskins are receivers Brandon Banks and Dezmon Briscoe, linebackers Roddrick Muckelroy and Vic So’oto and offensive linemen Tom Compton and Adam Gettis.

For only the second time this season, quarterback Rex Grossman will dress. It’s the first time all season that the Redskins will have three active quarterbacks.

The Cowboys will be without nose tackle Jay Ratliff, running back Phillip Tanner, center Kevin Kowalski, guard David Arkin, guard Robert Callaway, tackle Darrion Weems and guard Ronald Leary.

Andy Reid out in Philly, reports say

Not that there’s much doubt about Andy Reid’s future in Philadelphia, but the NFL Network and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer are reporting that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie told Reid on Friday that he would not be coaching the Eagles in 2013.

The Eagles denied the reports and Reid denied that he and Lurie had spoken when he addressed the media after the Eagles’ loss to the New York Giants.

“Whatever he chooses will be the right thing,” Reid said in regard to Lurie’s decision. “He’s always done things for the best interest of the Eagles and I completely understand either way.”

Adrian Peterson has topped 2,000-yard mark

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has gone over the 2,000-yard mark, becoming only the seventh NFL players to do so.

Now, for that single-season rushing record set by Eric Dickerson…it’s 91 yards away.

Only 371 days ago, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL; one year ago today, he had reconstructive surgery.

By the way, the Green Bay Packers are closing in, cutting the Vikings’ lead to 20-17.

Adrian Peterson has 68 yards in first quarter

Adrian Peterson, 208 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, has rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown on eight carries just over midway through the first quarter.

The Minnesota Vikings are up 10-0 on the Green Bay Packers, which no one in gold pants wants to hear.

At the end of the quarter, he had 68 yards.

RGIII…he’s everywhere.

Shanahan talks about Snyder, RGIII with Costas

Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan sat down with NBC’s Bob Costas for an interview that will air on “Football Night in America” just before the Redskins-Cowboys game. Shanahan talked about the dark days of being 3-6, his relationship with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and why he isn’t concerned about Robert Griffin III’s durability long-term or mindset for tonight’s big game.

“We lost four games in the fourth quarter, when we were ahead or tied. We could have easily been 6-3,” Shanahan said. “I was a little disappointed in how we finished up that game [against the Carolina Panthers]. You find out more about your football team in the second half of the season. I told our players, ‘If we win the rest of our games, we have a chance to win the NFC East. The only thing that has to happen is the Giants have to lose a game.’”

Shanahan, as he has before, said he came to Washington without a quick-fix plan. “When I came here, I looked at our football team and said to Dan, ‘If you plan to fire me before five years, then you are picking the wrong guy. This football team needs to be rebuilt. If you want me to do it the right way, I’ll do it the right way. If you want me to do it the quick way, then that’s not me. So if you are going to hire me, give me five years and I’ll do it right.’”

RGIII missed a game because of a lateral-collateral ligament injury and his long-term durability in the NFL has been a question dating back as far as the scouting combine. Shanahan isn’t worried about that. “I think it is the opposite of what most people think. Robert can run our offense and he will be very successful. When he first started with the option, he wanted to run guys over. He has got to learn how to slide. He can’t take the punishment that he did early in the season, but he has gotten much better at that.”

As for tonight’s first big game, Shanahan isn’t concerned about his rookie QB. “Based on my experience with him, it will just be another night. He’s a guy that doesn’t blink. He’s handled himself that way in every game he has played this year. I don’t see why this game will be any different.”

Redskins eliminated from wild-card contention, must beat Cowboys to make playoffs

The Redskins have been eliminated from NFC wild-card contention, making their game Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys a playoffs-or-bust proposition.

The winner of the Redskins-Cowboys game, scheduled for 8:20 p.m. at FedEx Field, wins the NFC East title and enters the playoffs as the NFC’s fourth seed. That team will host a first-round playoff game next weekend against the NFC’s fifth seed, likely the Seattle Seahawks.

The loser of the Redskins-Cowboys game is eliminated from the playoffs.

The Redskins began the day with wild-card possibilities but those were extinguished when the Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions, 26-24. In order to reach the playoffs as a wild card with a loss to the Cowboys, the Redskins would have needed the Bears and Minnesota Vikings to lose Sunday.

The Redskins are seeking their first NFC East title since the 1999 season.

Chicago’s win also meant that the New York Giants were eliminated from playoff contention. The Giants routed the Eagles, 42-7, but needed Bears and Vikings losses and a Dallas loss or tie to earn a wild-card spot.

Vick out; Reid reportedly will be fired

Michael Vick is out, Trent Edwards comes on for the Philadelphia Eagles with the New York Giants up 42-7.

Already, there’s a report, by the Delaware County Times’s Bob Grotz, that Reid will be fired tomorrow morning. On Saturday, a report had indicated that Reid was interested in coaching the San Diego Chargers. Today, though, ESPN’s Adam Schefter shot that report down. 

After the Eagles’ loss, Reid denied Grotz’s report, saying he had not spoked with owner Jeff Lurie and would meet with him in the morning.

Bears aren’t helping Redskins; Giants are crushing Eagles

The Chicago Bears lead the Detroit Lions 20-10 going into the second half, with Redskins fans rooting for a Lions victory.

Jay Cutler has hit 10-of-17 passes for 171 yards; Matt Forte has 12 carries for 56 yards.

In what figures to be Andy Reid’s last game as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants are rolling 35-7.

 

About that field at FedEx…

 

Week 17: Cowboys at Redskins

Getting set for a full day of football, on the final week of the regular season, that has so many implications for the Redskins.

Think about that for a bit.

Not since 2007, when Joe Gibbs’s final Redskins team won the last four games of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7, has Washington’s Week 17 game meant anything — at least for the Redskins. The quarterback five years ago was Todd Collins, a veteran placeholder. The whole feel of the franchise has changed since then.

You could make a pretty strong argument that tonight’s game — Cowboys-Redskins for the NFC East title — is the biggest game in FedEx Field history. The only other real contender is probably the NFC wild card playoff game following the 1999 season, in which the Brad Johnson-led Redskins beat Detroit (only to go on to lose at Tampa Bay the following week).

Things to keep in mind: If you want the Redskins in the playoffs as early as possible, root for Chicago to lose to Detroit (an early game) and Minnesota to lose to Green Bay (a later game). If both those things happen, the Redskins are in even before kickoff, and would be a wild-card even with a loss to the Cowboys. (What to do then? Go all-out? Ease off on Robert Griffin III’s knee?) But if either the Bears or the Vikings win, the Redskins need to beat the Cowboys to become NFC East champs and qualify as the No. 4 seed.

Things to read: Make sure to digest Dave Sheinin’s excellent piece on RGIII and leadership. Mark Maske takes stock of Mike Shanahan, whose reputation is coming back around.

And stick here all day. Cindy Boren will be chiming in, and I’ll be back at game time to help blog Cowboys-Redskins for the NFC East crown.

Whew.

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Barry Svrluga · December 30, 2012

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