Griffin helps Redskins nab play-off spot
American football round-up:The Washington Redskins completed the National Football League play-off puzzle by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 on Sunday to bring down the curtain on the regular season.
With the victory the Redskins claimed the NFC East crown for the first time since 1999. They will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in a post-season clash featuring two of the league’s dynamic young talents and rookie of the year candidates in quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
Griffin befuddled the Dallas defence by running for 63 yards and a touchdown but the Redskins quarterback was overshadowed by his rookie running back Alfred Morris, who found the end zone three times while rushing for 200 yards on 33 carries.
The Seahawks closed out the campaign with a fifth straight win beating the St Louis Rams 20-13. Wilson dove over from the one with 1:39 to play for the game winning score after throwing for his 26th touchdown to tie Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes by a rookie.
The other NFC wildcard game will see North division rivals the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers renew hostilities on Saturday at Lambeau Field.
Blair Walsh booted a 29-yard field goal as time expired to earn the Vikings a heart-stopping 37-34 home win over the Packers and a play-off berth and deny Green Bay the NFC’s second seed and a first round bye.
The AFC matchups will have the surprising Indianapolis Colts visiting the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Houston Texans on Saturday.
For sheer drama, the Vikings and Packers left the Cowboys and Redskins a tough act to follow as they engaged in a furious see-saw battle that was not decided until Walsh, the Vikings’ rookie kicker, drove the ball through the uprights sending the Mall of America Stadium crowd home for a happy New Year.
While Walsh clinched the victory it was Adrian Peterson who did most of the heavy lifting. The Vikings’ dynamic running back rushed for 199 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, including a punishing 26-yard romp to set up the winning field goal.
If there was one disappointment for the capacity crowd it was watching Peterson fall just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.
Peterson, coming back from a career-threatening knee injury, terrorised opposing defences this season by rushing for 2,097 yards, the second most ever behind Dickerson who rumbled for 2,105 in 1984.
“Ultimately we got the W (win) and that was our main focus coming into the game,” Peterson told reporters as a wild celebration erupted around him. “I said coming into the game, if it (the record) happens, it will happen but don’t focus on it. It will be good to play another week.”