There will be January football, playoff football, at FedEx Field next weekend for the first time in 13 years, following the Redskins’ 28-18 victory over the hated Cowboys on Sunday night.
Next Sunday at 4:30 p.m., the Redskins, newly crowned champions of the NFC East division, will host the Seattle Seahawks in a first-round playoff game, the first at FedEx Field since Jan. 8, 2000.
As the final seconds ticked down, fans ignored the cold, and the oncoming blitz of winter behind it, and rejoiced in a season extended by a victory on a night when a loss would have ended it.
As many expected, the rookie phenom in the Redskins’ backfield was clearly the best player on the field Sunday night, finding daylight where none seemed to exist and getting the ball to the end zone better than anyone else. Only this time, the rookie wasn’t Griffin, the Redskins’ transcendent superstar quarterback. It was Morris, the unassuming sixth-round draft pick who drives a 1991 Mazda 626 he calls his “Bentley.”
With Griffin still slowed by a knee injury suffered three weeks earlier, Morris, even more than usual, became the Redskins’ workhorse. Over and over, Griffin, 22, fed him the ball, and Morris, 24, ran to daylight. By the third quarter, Morris, plowing through defenders and hitting holes like vintage John Riggins, owned the Redskins’ single-season rushing record, bettering Clinton Portis’s seven-year-old record of 1,516, and by the end of the game, he had carried the ball 33 times for 200 yards, both career highs.
“Coming from where I came from, with no one expecting nothing from you, and to do this on this level, on this stage,” Morris said, “is just an honor.”
When it was over, Griffin and Morris took a moment to ponder what they had just done: Seven straight wins. The franchise’s first playoff berth since 2007. Its first division title since 1999.
“I was nine years old in 1999,” Griffin said. “I stand before you 22, and the Redskins the champions of the NFC East. . . . The Redskins haven’t won the division since 1999, and we came in and we did it in one year.”
Twenty years of angst, dating from the Redskins’ last Super Bowl team, had been building up to Sunday night’s kickoff, when it exploded across the region, from living rooms to the jam-packed sports bars to the raucous stands at FedEx Field.
In some sections of the stadium, fans stood the entire game, either to stay warm, or simply because their nerves would not allow them to sit. They watched the Redskins fall behind by a touchdown early, build an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter — on Morris’s 32-yard touchdown run — then hang on in the face of another Cowboys comeback.