And yet, for the second time in three weeks, a double-digit second-half lead disappeared, leaving a shocked team in its wake. Morris topped 100 rushing yards for the third time this season, but it wasn’t enough in a crushing 34-27 loss at woeful Minnesota, which had won just one game entering Thursday’s contest at the Metrodome.
“This year all we’ve been talking about is playing a complete 60 minutes,” a dejected Morris said after the game. “We did it last week [against San Diego] and we came out this week and weren’t able to get it done.”
He tried his best. Morris finished with a season-high 139 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He consistently churned yards with his longest run of the night 26 yards. It was the second-year pro’s most yards in a game since the NFC East clincher over Dallas last Dec. 30 when he had 200 yards and three touchdowns. But in the end it wasn’t enough and a season of promise was left in ruins at 3-6 with a loss to one of the NFL’s worst teams.
“It takes will, it takes execution,” Morris said of his team’s inability to sustain a full game. “You can’t make mistakes, you can’t have penalties, you can’t have dropped balls, you can’t miss holes, you can’t miss assignments at all. We got a lot of that in the second half and it definitely hurt us and we ended up losing the game.”
Morris‘ play helped set up two Kai Forbath field goal and Robert Griffin III touchdown passes to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, tight end Jordan Reed and tight end Logan Paulsen. But 88 of those yards came in the first half. In the second half Morris had nine carries for just 51 yards. A couple of ineffective drives late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings an opportunity they didn’t squander. It left Morris shaking his head in wonder about what went wrong.
“We moved the ball pretty good, obviously,” Redskins tackle Trent Williams said. “Probably had a couple of chances to get seven [points] when we only ended up with three. That might have been the difference in the game.”
Indeed, Washington moved the ball to the 21 before a short run by Griffin and a pair of incomplete passes stalled their opening drive. Forbath drilled a 40-yard field goal. It was reminiscent of their first drive of the game where the Redskins pushed the ball all the way to the 1 and yet had to settle for a short field goal. Morris was stopped for no gain on first down and two more incomplete passes left them with three points instead of seven.
“I think we had one dropped ball, another one we had a penalty,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. “We got ourselves shoved back and that last drive we just didn’t get in the end zone, fell a little bit short. I think we had the ball four or five times in the second half while we were moving the football, but you’ve got to score touchdowns when [Minnesota] is moving it and scoring points, too.”