ATLANTA -- He set up Atlanta’s defenders with the action of the play, getting them to move one way and cutting back another. It’s what he does best. It’s what the Washington Redskins knew would hurt Atlanta.
It’s why Alfred Morris rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries. Yet it wasn’t a day he or the Redskins could celebrate. Morris’ two fumbles loomed just as big as his yards in the 27-26 loss.
“There are two plays I’d definitely love to have back,” Morris said. “It’s unfortunate and it’s one of those things as a running back you don’t want to happen, especially on key drives in key situations. You just have to find a way to get better from it and not allow it to happen.”
Morris’ first fumble occurred on a run to the left at the Atlanta 18-yard line. He appeared to unexpectedly bump slightly into left tackle Tom Compton (subbing on the play while Trent Williams had his knee checked out) and that jarred the ball free. The Redskins trailed 17-7 at the time.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Morris ran through the right side for 3 yards before losing the ball in traffic with the Redskins trailing 24-20. They were part of a seven-turnover day by the offense.
“You’re fighting for extra yards and sometimes the ball can come out from [by] your body,” Morris said. “That’s one of those thin lines, you want to get as many yards as you can but at the same time you have to protect the ball and you’re in traffic and fighting for it and you can get careless and it happens. You have to make sure you lock the ball up even when you’re fighting for extra yardage.”
Morris’ positive yards were a function, too, of having fullback Darrel Young back in the game (until he had to exit). Young threw a key block on Morris’ 37-yard run in the first half (as did tight end Logan Paulsen).
“When [Young is] in there it just seems like everything is close,” Morris said. “He’s so knowledgeable about the offense, not only just fullback but he knows running back, he knows the offensive line. He knows what everyone’s doing.”
The Redskins had a good game plan for running on the Falcons, using a lot of the inside zone toss to capitalize on a linebacker unit that tended to overflow to the ball. At times when the linebackers didn’t bite hard on the play, or tried to read Morris’ actions, it gave the linemen time to block them.
“We definitely saw it as an opportunity to take advantage of what we do well and give them a rope-a-dope deal,” Paulsen said.
Morris was happy they ran well after rushing for a combined 109 yards the previous three games.
“We haven’t been doing so good,” he said. “We were more physical at the point of attack and I was able to find some holes.”