Once again a Washington playoff run resulted in early heartache for local fans as the Seattle Seahawks outplayed Robert Griffin III and the Redskins by the score of 24-14 in the NFC Wild Card round.
It almost seemed things were too good to be true from the start. The Washington Redskins had a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter. Robert Griffin III – in spite of his injury – held on through hit after hit to find unlikely opportunities – including a pass in the end zone to Evan Royster, who did not tally a single touchdown catch all year. Alfred Morris proved an unstoppable force and London Fletcher was a menace to the Seattle offense. Prior to Sunday night’s face-off, the Redskins were 0-2 against the Seattle Seahawks in their past two playoff match-ups, and this was supposed to be Washington’s year to break the curse.
Regardless of whether or not Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan should have pulled Griffin from the game before all was lost, it was no secret that the star quarterback was less than 100 percent throughout the night, even before he collapsed on the field in the fourth quarter. By the end of the night, Griffin finished just 10 for 19 for 84 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, compared with Russell Wilson’s 15-of-26 passes for 187 yards.
After the Redskins completed back-to-back touchdown drives in the first quarter, they failed to score again in the remaining 45 minutes of play.
The Seahawks chipped away at Washington’s lead early in the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. More importantly, they began to read the Redskins’ play-action, they broke through Washington’s front line to find Griffin in the pocket and the defense that many expected to outmatch the Redskins’ offensive line began to fire on all cylinders.
The Redskins advanced only eight yards on their first drive in the second quarter, and the Seahawks seized the opportunity to shift the momentum of the game.
Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch got things started for the Seahawks with back-to-back runs to nab the first down at Seattle’s 40-yard line. By the end of the night, he tallied 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown, much to the Redskins’ dismay.
Then, Wilson nearly steered the Seahawks into trouble, but Lynch scooped up a fumble in time to salvage the drive. Wilson then connected with Michael Robinson for 19 yards, before running the ball himself for another 11. With almost no trouble at all, Wilson connected with Robinson in the end zone to send the Seahawks knocking on Washington’s door, trailing just 14-10.
The Redskins’ attempt to answer was short-lived as Griffin’s pass intended for Pierre Garcon on second-and-7 landed into the hands of Seattle’s Earl Thomas for the quick turnaround.
Fletcher and company held the Seahawks back enough to force a field goal, but the Redskins headed for the locker room with a less-than-reassuring 14-13 lead at the half.
Both the Redskins’ and Seahawks’ defense stepped up to the plate in the third quarter, but neither rookie quarterback could find the end zone in time to swing the game in their favor.
With just under 11 minutes left in the game, however, Wilson officially won the battle of the rookie quarterbacks. After Wilson’s short pass to Golden Tate, Lynch ran for 18 yards and the Seahawks capitalized on third-and-10 with a big-time 22-yard catch-and-carry by Zach Miller to put Seattle inside the Redskins’ 35-yard line. Wilson turned to none other than Lynch for a five-yard run, followed by a 27-yard carry into the end zone before completing the two-point conversion pass to Miller to give the Seahawks their first lead of the night, 21-14.
Then, with only minutes remaining, the Redskins’ playoff quest quickly fell into the hands of Kirk Cousins.
On the Redskins’ first play of the drive, Griffin was sacked by Bruce Irvin for a loss of 12 yards. On second-and-22, he fumbled the ball as his knee gave out and he collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain in front of a silenced FedEx crowd.
After several moments, he hobbled off the field on his own power and the fate of the Redskins’ season rested on Cousins’ shoulders.
Although Cousins may have helped the Redskins in their road to the playoffs, he had little to offer in the remaining 5:30 of the first chapter in Griffin’s saga.
After passes to Leonard Hankerson for 15 and 12 yards respectively, Cousins fumbled the ball and threw three consecutive incomplete passes to end the Redskins’ drive and hopes for advancing to face the Atlanta Falcons.
They received the ball one last time with just over a minute remaining, but Cousins managed only one complete pass – to Santana Moss for five yards – before the Seahawks closed the book on Washington’s comeback season.