The fourth and final game of wildcard weekend had the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Washington Redskins. Of all the games, I was looking forward to this one the most. It was the battle of rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson. To be honest, of the rookies playing in this game, the one who impressed me the most this season was Redskin running back Alfred Morris. The Redskins won the toss and elected to receive.
Starting at their 20, the Redskins got off to a good start with runs of eight and nine yards by Morris. A nine-yard pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon and a three-yard run by Griffin moved the Redskins to midfield. A 30-yard pass to Garcon and an 18-yard run by Morris made it first and goal from the three-yard line. On third and goal from the four, Griffin fired a dart to running back Even Royster for a Redskin touchdown. Kicker Kai Forbath made the extra point and the Redskins went up 7-0 with ten minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Seahawks went nowhere on their first drive and punted. The Redskins took over at their 46 and on third and three from the Seahawk 47, Griffin faced some pressure, but managed to complete a ten-yard pass to wide receiver Santana Moss. A neutral zone infraction on the Seahawks and an eight-yard run by Griffin gave the Redskins another first down at the 24. Tight end Logan Paulsen caught a 15-yard pass on third and one and the Redskins were knocking on the door again. They found themselves in another third and goal situation from the four. This time, they had the same result as their previous drive. Griffin had loads of time and hit Paulsen in the end zone for another Redskin touchdown. Forbath made the point after and the Redskins went up 14-0 with a little over two minutes to go in the first quarter. Long after Griffin got rid of the ball, he was knocked down by defensive end Bruce Irvin and he was flagged for unnecessary roughness. After that hit, Griffin left the field, but would return shortly.
The Seahawks started at their 20 and a 12-yard completion to tight end Zach Miller on third and 12 got them a first down at the 30. A short run by running back Marshawn Lynch, a 19-yard scramble by Wilson and a nine-yard pass to Lynch moved the Seahawks into Redskin territory. On first down from the 39, Wilson put up a floater and wide receiver Sidney Rice did a great job of catching it and keeping both feet in bounds for a gain of 27. But a delay of game penalty and three incomplete passes stalled the drive at the 14. Kicker Steven Hauschka was brought in to try a 32-yard field goal. The kick was good and that made it 14-3 with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.
After giving up two early touchdowns, the Seahawk defense made some adjustments and really started bringing the pressure and forced the Redskins to punt. The punt was fair caught by return man Leon Washington at the Seahawk 27. Two runs by Lynch and an offside penalty on the Redskins moved the ball to the 45. On first and five from the 45, Wilson fumbled, but the ball was picked up by Lynch and he took it down to the Redskin 36. On second down from the 35, Wilson threw a screen to fullback Michael Robinson for a gain of 19 yards. An 11-yard run by Wilson made it first and goal from the five. On second and goal from the four, Wilson tossed the ball to his left and it was caught by Robinson for a Seahawk touchdown. Hauschka made the extra point and the Seahawks closed the gap to 14-10 with just under five minutes to go in the second quarter. Hauschka injured his calf on the point after attempt and punter Jon Ryan kicked the ball off.
The next “drive” for the Redskins ended abruptly. On second and seven from the 29, Griffin threw a deep ball into double coverage intended for Garcon. The ball was picked off by safety Earl Thomas. He was brought down at the Seahawk 26 and with 3:36 remaining in the first half, Wilson went to work. On third and five from the 31, he completed a six-yard pass to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. On the next play, he hooked up with Baldwin again. This pass went for 33 yards and he was brought down at the Redskin 30. Two more runs by Lynch netted 11 yards and another first down at the 19. On fourth and two from the 11, Hauschka limped onto the field and nailed a 29-yard field goal to end the half. At halftime, the Redskins led 14-13.
The Seahawks picked up right where they left off on their first drive of the second half. Lynch, Robinson and rookie running back Robert Turbin moved the Seahawks from their 30 to the Redskin 32. A 15-yard pass to wide receiver Golden Tate and a 15-yard run straight up the middle by Lynch put the ball at the two-yard line. On second down from the one, Lynch got the call again and defensive tackle Barry Cofield put his helmet right on the ball. It came loose and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins came up with the fumble recovery.
The Redskins took over at their three and managed to move the ball to the 26 before punting. On this drive, defensive end Chris Clemons was injured and it has been reported he has a torn ACL. He will miss the rest of the playoffs. The Seahawks got down to the Redskin 28, but on third and eight, Wilson was sacked for a loss of nine by cornerback Josh Wilson. That took them out of field goal range and they punted. The Redskins were flagged for holding on the return and they started from their own six-yard line. As the game went on, it was becoming more and more evident that Griffin was playing in excruciating pain. From the six, Griffin was sacked for a loss of four by defensive tackle Alan Branch. He managed to complete a pass to Garcon on third and 14, but he was brought down short of the first down marker. Redskin punter Sav Rocca came on and hit a nice 53-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Seahawk 37. The Redskin defense did a good job and forced another punt.
A limping Robert Griffin led his team onto the field in hopes of putting some more points on the board. On first down from their 22, Griffin took the snap and “ran” up the left side for a gain of nine yards. That play call totally boggled my mind. You have perfectly good running backs who could do the same thing. After the play was over, Griffin limped back to the huddle. Morris got the call on the next play and gained five yards for a first down at the 36. They would only gain three more yards and Rocca punted the ball away again. Washington fielded it at the eight and returned it to the 21.
A seven-yard pass to Tate and an 18-yard run by Lynch moved the Seahawks to midfield. On third and ten, Miller made a nice catch and run for a gain of 22. He was finally dragged down at the Redskin 32. On third and five from the 27, Lynch reminded everyone why he is known as “The Beast.” He ran up the right side for a 27-yard Seahawk touchdown. Wilson completed the two-point conversion with a pass to Miller and the Seahawks now had a 21-14 lead with seven minutes to go in the game.
I really thought I’d see backup quarterback Kirk Cousins come into the game for the Redskins. I was wrong. Griffin remained at quarterback and on first down from the 24, he was sacked for a loss of 12 by Irvin. On second and 22, it got even worse for Griffin. A bad snap sent the ball bouncing crazily toward him. There was a big pileup at the five-yard line and the Seahawks came away with the ball. Griffin stayed down for several minutes as trainers worked on him. He managed to get to his feet and walk off the field, but that was the last we’d see of him. The Seahawks took over at the five and gained a grand total of one yard. Hauschka made the 22-yard field goal and the Seahawks upped the lead to 24-14 with five and a half minutes to go in the game.
The Redskins got the ball back at their 18 and Cousins found wide receiver Leonard Hankerson for gains of 15 and 12 yards. Another bad snap was picked up by Cousins and he was thrown for a loss of four yards. After that, Cousins threw three straight incomplete passes and turned the ball over to the Seahawks with 4:16 to go in the game. Lynch and Turbin split some carries and they ended up punting the ball back to the Redskins with a minute to go. Cousins threw four incomplete passes and that’s how the game would end. Final score: Seahawks 24 Redskins 14.
For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 for 187 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. He also had 67 yards rushing on eight carries. Tight end Zach Miller led the team in receptions with four and in receiving yards with 48. Marshawn Lynch led the ground game with 132 yards on 20 carries, one touchdown and one lost fumble. As a team, the Seahawks had a total of 224 yards on 37 carries. Defensively, linebacker Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks in solo tackles with five and had one tackle for a loss.
For the Redskins, Robert Griffin completed 10 of 19 for 84 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 21 yards rushing on five carries. Kirk Cousins didn’t do much better as he completed three of ten for 31 yards. Pierre Garcon was the leader in receptions with four and receiving yards with 50. Alfred Morris led the ground game with 80 yards on 16 carries. In my opinion, he didn’t get enough carries in this game. As a team, the Redskins ran for a total of 104 yards on 23 carries. Defensively, safety Reed Doughty led the Redskins in sacks with two and the most solo tackles with seven. He also had two tackles for a loss and one pass defensed. All totaled, the Redskins sacked Wilson five times.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is being heavily criticized for leaving Griffin in the game too long. Griffin entered the game with a knee brace and was obviously not anywhere near 100 percent. Yet, Shanahan left him out there despite the fact that he was in obvious pain. That’s nothing new for Shanahan. When he was in Denver, quarterback Brian Griese had a badly injured shoulder and Shanahan didn’t take him out. There’s also a sound byte from Super Bowl 32 where he asked running back Terrell Davis if he was feeling okay. Davis replied “I can’t see. I’ve got another one of my headaches.” Shanahan said “Well I need you to get back in there for the next play. We’re going to fake it to you.” Davis ended up being okay and was named the MVP of that game. But what the hell are you doing putting a blind running back into a game?
The playoffs continue next week with Baltimore at Denver on Saturday at 4:30 eastern time followed by Green Bay at San Francisco at 7:30. Sunday’s games will feature Seattle at Atlanta at 1:00 and Houston at New England at 4:30. Those are definitely some interesting match-ups! Until then, take it easy.