Not only did Washington punch its ticket to the postseason, but its victory was ever sweeter as it came at the expense of a division rival.
Dallas had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with less than five minutes remaining, but Tony Romo's third interception of the night allowed Alfred Morris to eventually seal the Cowboys' fate with his third rushing score of the night.
The first quarter can only be defined as sloppy for each team. Two of Dallas' three possessions resulted in Romo interceptions, but the Redskins failed to capitalize on either opportunity.
Rookie Kai Forbath attempted to give Washington a 3-0 lead in the first frame, but he wound up missing the first field goal of his career, keeping the score at 0-0 entering the second quarter.
With 8:10 remaining in the second, the scoreboard finally changed with Jason Witten's nine-yard touchdown catch to give Dallas a 7-0 lead. Less than five minutes later, Alfred Morris scampered 17 yards to tie the game at seven apiece with 3:28 remaining in the half.
That's how things stood until just over three minutes remained on the third-quarter clock. Then, Robert Griffin III executed a fake handoff with expert precision and took off for a 10-yard touchdown run to give Washington a 14-7 lead with just over a quarter left to play.
Romo looked like he was driving Dallas down the field to tie the game to start the fourth, but he missed Dez Bryant on a crucial third-down conversion. That led to Dan Bailey's 48-yard field goal to put Jason Garrett's team behind 14-10 with 14:09 left on the clock.
But Morris wasn't done yet. The Redskins ball-carrier was the only consistent offensive player for either team all night long, and his 32-yard touchdown run with under 11 minutes remaining put Washington ahead, 21-10.
Judging by how the game had unfolded, that lead seemed insurmountable.
Which is more to blame?
Romo wasn't out of it yet, though. With Dez Bryant in the locker room nursing a back injury (via ESPN's Calvin Watkins), Romo found Kevin Ogletree from 10 yards out to cut the lead to five. He followed that with a two-point conversion to Dwayne Harris to make the score 21-18 with 5:50 left.
After the Cowboys defense got Romo the ball back, though, the quarterback killed his team's playoff hopes the only way he knows how.
Overall, the game was pretty uneventful. Both teams had their sloppy moments, and each team fought hard from start to finish. The fourth quarter did get interesting, but Washington seemed to be in control more times than not.
Dallas' loss can be attributed to Romo's mistakes, a few other missed opportunities and Morris' ability to move the chains.
Let's take a look at some Twitter reaction and name a player of the game.
CBS' Will Brinson had an interesting theory regarding Kai Forbath's missed field goal in the first half:
Kai Forbath misses first field goal of his career. Probably choked because he came in contact with Tony Romo or something— Will Brinson (@willbrinson) December 31, 2012
ESPN Numbers outlined Tony Romo's struggles versus the Redskins:
Since Week 9, Tony Romo has thrown 3 TD and 4 INT vs the Redskins and has 14 TD and 1 INT against everyone else.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) December 31, 2012
ESPN's Tim MacMahon focused on Alfred Morris' excellent rookie season:
In most seasons, Alfred Morris would be the Rookie of the Year. He's over 1,500 rushing yards now.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 31, 2012
And this highlighted just how good Morris has been:
Alfred Morris' 1,513 rush yards on the season are the most for a rookie since Edgerrin James in 1999 (1,553 yds).— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) December 31, 2012
NFL Network reporter Jeff Darlington loved Kyle Shanahan's strategy on RG3's touchdown run in the third quarter:
Nice play-call by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on that RGIII touchdown. Blocking was perfect. Great timing to make that call.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 31, 2012
NFL Live host Trey Wingo made an observation about RG3 in the second half:
Man, you can tell RG3 is still not right..and still making plays— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 31, 2012
106.7 The Fan reporter Grant Paulsen spoke to linebacker London Fletcher's inspired effort:
London Fletcher had one sack in the #Redskins' first 15 games. He has two sacks tonight.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 31, 2012
FootballPerspective.com's Chase Stuart made a great point as the Cowboys closed Washington's lead to three points:
It's like the Redskins have never seen a Cowboys game before, thinking this thing was over.— Chase Stuart (@fbgchase) December 31, 2012
ESPN NFL had high praise for RG3 late in the fourth quarter:
RGIII on 1 leg better than most guys with 2— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 31, 2012
ESPN Stats & Info confirmed Romo's inability to deliver when it matters most:
Tony Romo-- 3 INT on Sunday vs Redskins.He had 3 INT in his previous 8 games entering today.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012
CBS' Mike Freeman had some harsh words for Romo:
Don't want to hear all this about Cowboys' D. It stunk. Fine. But Tony Chokemo can't throw three picks. He just can't.— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) December 31, 2012
Player of the Game: Alfred Morris
Morris was already having an excellent rookie season before this crucial season finale, but the rookie running back took things to a different level versus the Cowboys run defense.
With RG3 still a little slow, Morris took over. He finished with 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries (6.1 YPC), and his touchdown on Washington's game-clinching drive put an exclamation point on his amazing night.
This game didn't feature many notable offensive performances, so Morris especially stood out. The Cowboys didn't have any idea how to slow him down, and he made them pay for it throughout.
If Morris hadn't played his best game of the season, the result may have been different. The (former) unheralded rookie put Washington on his back, making sure that the NFL playoffs would be in its future.
The Redskins must do it all again versus the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in the Wild Card Round of the postseason, while the Cowboys watch the playoffs from their couches.