It’s taken a long time but the Washington Redskins are finally learning what it feels like to be relevant again. They’re also learning about a sixth round draft choice who, at the start of the season, was a relative unknown. Alfred Morris, drafted out of Florida Atlantic, has proved a marvelous addition to the new Redskins offense. Lining up in the backfield, alongside the phenomenal RGIII, Morris has had a pro bowl caliber season.
Unlike a lot of runners, who prefer to dance around behind the line hoping for a hole to open up, Morris is very much a ‘in your face’ runner, opting to initiate contact rather than avoid it. Morris didn’t just shine on Sunday though; he’s shined brightly all season. Complementing RGIII’s almost unique skill set, Morris has bulldozed his way to a remarkable 1,613 yards. A new franchise record, beating Clinton Portis’ record of 1,516, set way back in 2005.
Speaking after their division-clinching win against the hapless Cowboys, Morris’ teammates were quick to praise their rookie star.
“I’ll tell you what: Alfred Morris became a star tonight “ tight end Chris Cooley said.
“He deserved it. He’s a phenomenal football player.”
Morris doesn’t see it that way though, modestly remarking “I’m never a star. I’ll never be a star. Other people might think I’m a star, but I’m just Alfred. However, while the Redskins were celebrating the Cowboys missed out on the playoffs for a third year in a row. Leaving their playoff hopes hanging by a thread until the last game of the regular season has become a terrible habit for the Dallas outfit. It’s also become a test they, seemingly, cannot pass.
Elsewhere in the league the Houston Texans continued their late season slump and appear to be limping into the playoffs. Their loss against the Indianpolis Colts, in Indy where they are 0-11, meant that, with a win by the New England Patriots, they would lose their top seed status and their bye week.
In typical fashion, New England took full advantage against a Miami team with nothing to play for. In their last two outings, against the 49ers and the Jaguars, the Patriots have looked sluggish and out of sync on both sides of the ball. However, with the Texans loss and the chance of a bye week on the horizon, Brady and co. rallied together and put up 28 unanswered points in a convincing win. Coupled with the return of their offense, the defense also played well recording 7 sacks.
Brady, meanwhile, moved into second place in NFL history with a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas. On top of that the Patriot QB became the first player to throw, at least, one scoring pass in all 16 games for three straight seasons. As a result the Patriots earned the second seed in the AFC and now find themselves with an extra week to prepare for their postseason opener on January 13.
Amidst the conclusion of the regular season, the hiring’s and firings that will, inevitably follow, the post-season schedule is shaping up nicely.
The Cincinnati Bengals will face the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts will square off against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC’s Wildcard games. Awaiting the winner of those games will be the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, leaving us with the potential of an AFC Championship game of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning.
In the NFC the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Green Bay Packers while the Seattle Seahawks will face-off against the Washington Redskins. The San Francisco 49ers and the Atlants Falcons will be waiting for the winners having secured themselves top seed status and a bye week.
Ben Soro-Perez is a sports journalism student. He writes mainly on the NFL, soccer and motor-sport. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheSoroPerez