This is not what anyone expected when the Redskins were 3-6. Except for, perhaps, the Redskins.
Washington's 28-18 win over Dallas on Sunday night clinched the Redskins' first division title since 1999 and gives them their first home playoff game since that season. They'll host Seattle at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.
First they'll savor beating their hated rivals at home to finish 10-6 for the regular season and win the NFC East.
“It feels like you're in a dream,” Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen said.
Dallas (8-8) must feel like it's in a nightmare. For the second straight season, the Cowboys lost a game that could have earned them a division title. This time, quarterback Tony Romo, who had been so good in the past eight games, was unhinged by a terrific defensive game plan. The Redskins (10-6) blitzed him up the middle much of the game and hurried him into three interceptions.
Romo must now live with an offseason knowing he picked the worst time to have a bad game: he had thrown just three picks in the previous eight games. But of his final six picks this season, five came in two games vs. Washington. Romo is 1-6 in elimination games in his career.
It wasn't all his fault, though. The Cowboys could not stop RB Alfred Morris. He rushed for 200 yards on 33 carries, time and again hurting Dallas with his cutbacks. The Redskins consistently froze Dallas' edge rushers with zone-read fakes, creating gaps for Morris.
Add it up and it's a division title for Washington.
“That's as sweet as it gets,” Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said.
When the game turned: Dallas had the momentum, trailing by three points with three minutes, six seconds left in the game. The Cowboys had just gained 14 yards on first down and, yes, the crowd was uneasy. But the Redskins called for more pressure up the middle and Romo made a bad decision trying to hit running back DeMarco Murray running in the left flat. Romo could not get the pass over LB Rob Jackson, who was in man coverage vs. Murray. Jackson made a leaping interception at the 25 that set up Morris' third touchdown, which clinched the game.
Highlight moments: Morris' 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, giving Washington a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter. … Jackson's interception late in the game at the Dallas 25-yard line, enabling the Redskins to score another touchdown for a 28-18 lead. … Dwayne Harris' 39-yard punt return, which also drew a 15-yard face mask penalty on P Sav Rocca.
- Redskins RB Alfred Morris -- 33 carries, 200 yards, three touchdowns
- Redskins LB Rob Jackson -- One interception, one QB hurry
- Redskins LB London Fletcher -- 11 tackles, two sacks
- Redskins CB Josh Wilson -- One interception, tight coverage all night
- Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall -- Three tackles, three passes defensed
- Dallas PR Dwayne Harris -- Three returns, 78 yards
- Dallas LB Anthony Spencer -- Eight tackles, one sack
What they said about Alfred Morris:
- Redskins CB Richard Crawford: “The man's a beast… He's an old-fashioned running back, a ‘90 running back in 2012.”
- Redskins FB Darrel Young: "I don't know what to say about it. He's Alfred. That's what he's been doing every week. The first guy ain't bringing him down. Tough runner, humble guy. You don't see that too often.”
- Redskins coach Mike Shanahan: “We put a lot of pressure on him. I thought he stepped up and played at an exceptional level. Not too many guys can rush for a couple hundred yards.”
What they said about the Dallas loss:
- Dallas owner Jerry Jones: "We've got a big challenge ahead of us. They're in the tournament and we're getting to sit home and start thinking about how to get in the tournament. It's very disappointing because we just didn't get it done."
- Jones: “I'm not going to talk about coaches and coaching and I'm not going to talk about personnel. We will talk about the game and they obviously outplayed us."
What they said about the final interception:
- Dallas QB Tony Romo: “It's not going to be very fun to think about. I think we fought hard to get back and give ourselves a chance. But the defensive end just made a great play to peel back on the route. I should've thrown it away. He made a great play but I can't put the ball there"
Injury update: Redskins -- LG Kory Lichtensteiger suffered a sprained left ankle and exited the stadium in a walking boot. He'll be re-evaluated on Monday. Dallas -- WR Dwayne Harris had X-rays on his ankle that were negative. LB DeMarcus Ware said he will have two surgeries after the season, including on his shoulder. WR Dez Bryant left with a back injury in the second half.
Going forward: Redskins -- They play Seattle in the first round of the playoffs at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Seahawks open as two-point favorites, but the Redskins, in the postseason for the first time since 2007, enter on a roll. Seattle's defense will pose a challenge because of its physical nature; both teams will be tested by mobile quarterbacks. Cowboys -- Dallas' season ended at 8-8 with questions about the future of coach Jason Garrett, Romo and others.