Rick Snider: Redskins back in the playoff hunt

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Suddenly, the Washington Redskins are relevant again.

With their rookie backfield of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris dominating the second half, Washington scraped past the New York Giants 17-16 on Monday before 80,246 at FedEx Field to return to the postseason chase.

The Redskins (6-6) still trail the Giants (7-5) in the NFC East, but three straight victories has Washington with at least a wild-card possibility for the first time since 2007. Certainly, the season's final month will be worth watching after four straight awful seasons.

Griffin put Washington ahead on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon, but it was really the ground game that kept Washington alive while New York dominated time of possession.

Indeed, both Morris and Griffin set rookie rushing records. Morris eclipsed Reggie Brooks' 1,063 in 1994 while becoming the first Redskin to surpass 1,000 since 2008 after gaining 124 against New York. Griffin passed Cam Newton's 706 yards last season after two stunning option runs, including a 46-yarder.

It wasn't the shootout wanted by a capacity crowd, but the big-game atmosphere so missing from FedEx Field in many years was fulfilled. The parking lots were packed early and lines were 30 deep when gates opened 2? hours before kickoff. There were only a modest number of Giants fans instead of a near majority in some past years. Redskins faithful had been long awaiting a meaningful late-season game, much less a "Monday Night Football" encounter so tickets weren't dumped.

The roars were constant, even by Giants fans whenever receiver Victor Cruz made a big play. New York tight end Martellus Bennett even jumped into the stands after a 4-yard touchdown catch. Still, Giants fans didn't number more than 10 percent of the near capacity crowd. And when Josh Morgan scored on a fumble recovery for a 10-7 lead, a thunderclap encircled the field.

Both teams seemed more methodical than manic in the first half. New York gained 273 yards on just four possession by holding the ball 20:15 to the Redskins' 9:28. Indeed, New York's 40 snaps were twice Washington's. The Redskins were only close thanks to Morgan recovering Robert Griffin III's fumble for a touchdown.

The early chants of "RGIII" would be silenced until the Redskins' first series of the third quarter and then they never stopped. Griffin ran 46 yards on an option before he was caught at his beltline that nearly resembled the old Coppertone ad.

But one play later, Morris fumbled at New York's 9-yard line with the pileup having Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph stomping Redskins center Will Montgomery on the ground and an official knocked down. Washington's chance for the lead was lost.

No matter. Griffin and Morris teamed up again on their next drive for the winning drive. Griffin's touchdown to Garcon followed 41 yards by Morris. The Giants couldn't decide which to stop, and the Redskins used the uncertainty to turn the division race into a toss-up with four games remaining.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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