Mike Shanahan has made no secret that Alfred Morris is his top running back. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlanta keeps showing why.
Morris quietly ran for a career-best 115 yards Sunday in the Washington Redskins' 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was another impressive performance, but for the second straight week, an opponent was able to adjust and hold Morris down late.
The rookie ran for 86 yards on 10 carries in the first half but was limited to 29 on eight carries after halftime. It didn't help that Robert Griffin III had only two rushing attempts, and that on the second the quarterback was knocked out of the game.
"Robert not being in there definitely changed their scheme up. I already knew it was going to be that way. So I was ready," Morris said. "The defensive backs definitely were coming a lot faster downhill, so it definitely caused some problems."
From then on, with Kirk Cousins in the game, the Falcons did not have to respect the pass too much and focused on stopping Morris. Unable to get much going outside of a 77-yard touchdown pass to Moss, the Redskins had to abandon the running game late.
Early on, Morris was impressive. His shiftiness made for a second-straight 100-yard game.
"I love blocking for that guy. He can make something out of nothing, and then when he does have a hole he'll make people miss," left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "He's got a bright future ahead of him. I'm happy he's on our side."
Morris was a one-man show as he finished with 18 of the Redskins' 21 carries. It didn't bother him that Griffin wasn't sharing the load running the ball.
"I can kind of be happy when he does not run the ball because that means he takes less hits, he said. "He didn't run that much. Then it happened that he left the game, unfortunately, but it happened."
Before the Falcons started crashing the line anticipating hand-offs to Morris, though, the scheme to keep the ball in his hands was bearing fruit.
"He's got all the things you look for in a running back: He's tough, he's hard-nosed, he's a first-, second-, third-down back. He doesn't seem to get tired," Shanahan said. "He can make the first person miss. He just keeps on getting better and better. I like what we have."
Kerrigan makes a play
Since Brian Orakpo was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has been forced to pick up the slack. Not enough just to create pressure, Kerrigan made an impact Sunday with an interception return for a touchdown.
On third and 5 from the Atlanta 38, Kerrigan was unblocked into the backfield and was able to get his hands up to pick off Matt Ryan. From there, it was a 28-yard saunter to the end zone.
"I was just looking at his release, trying to make sure that I was in the throwing lane, not to jump too soon, not to jump too late," Kerrigan said. "Fortunately I was in the throwing lane and timed the jump well."
It was the third defensive touchdown by the Redskins this season, the most since 1999 when they had four. But Washington has lost each game so far in which that happened.
"Maybe we should stop scoring on defense because all those were the losses," cornerback Josh Wilson said. "It was a great play, man. I can't say much more to make that play any better. That was a hard catch."
Moss' 77-yard touchdown was his 500th catch with the Redskins. The loss was the Redskins' eighth in a row at FedEx Field, the longest active home losing streak in the NFL.
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