October 31, 2014

Washington Redskins Week 5 Analysis: Defensive Notes

The Washington Redskins defense had an up-and-down night against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks Monday Night in the Redskins’ 27-17 loss at home. At times, they looked absolutely porous, allowing the Seahawks offense to move the ball at will, while at other times showing flashes of dominance.

The Redskins were certainly aided by a total of 13 penalties for 90 yards against the Seahawks (the majority of which on the offense), but I don’t quite buy into the notion that this is what kept the Redskins in the game.

More than likely, you’ve heard by now that the Seahawks were ‘robbed of three touchdowns’ negated by penalties. But if you actually examine each instance, you’ll see that two of those cancelled touchdowns occurred on the same drive which ultimately resulted in a successful field goal. The third occurred on a drive where they went on to score a touchdown anyways. So in essence, all in all, instead of scoring a possible 14 points on those two drives, they ended up scoring 10 points. A four-point difference is a lot different than ‘three touchdowns’.

Additionally, penalties are always an issue for the Seahawks. In their Super Bowl winning season last year, they had the most penalties in football.  To imply that if Seattle limited its penalties, Washington would’ve been blown out is an exercise in futility because it ignores reality. It’s part of who they are.

Sorry, rant over. Let’s get to the notes:

[Read more...]

Washington Redskins Game 5 Review: Wilson runs rampant as Seahawks win 27-17

Russell Wilson ran for 122 yards and a touchdown, and threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns and the Seattle Seahawks knocked off the Washington Redskins 27-17 Monday night at FedEx Field.

The Redskins defense just had no answer for Wilson. Seemingly on every play, Wilson was escaping a rush, or outrunning a linebacker, or buying time and finding a wide-open receiver.

He led Seattle on a 6-play, 65-yard drive on its opening possession which ended on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. [Read more...]

Washington Redskins Week 5 Preview: Seattle Seahawks

It doesn’t get any easier for the 1-3 Washington Redskins this week as the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks make the trip to FedEx Field for Monday Night Football.  This will be the Redskins’ second consecutive primetime game, the first of which was an absolute debacle against the division foe New York Giants.  The Seahawks are coming off of a bye week and find themselves at 2-1 heading into this matchup.

“Debacle” is the only way to describe the last time these two teams met.  The Redskins, after coming off a thrilling seven game winning streak, won the 2012 NFC East division championship in a decisive fashion against the Dallas Cowboys and were hosting their first home playoff game since 1999.  Robert Griffin III, though still feeling the ill-effects from a LCL injury, was flying high and started the game off well against the wild card Seahawks.

Then, disaster struck.  Griffin appeared to re-injure the knee early on in the game, and after the Redskins secured a 14-0 lead, the offense sputtered due to Griffin’s obvious injury aggravation.  Despite this, head coach Mike Shanahan stuck with Griffin until he no longer could.  Griffin would go on to tear his ACL and the Redskins have not recovered since.  While Seattle would ultimately win the Super Bowl the following season, the Redskins have posted a combined 4-16 regular season record since that game.

While the 2014 version of the Seattle Seahawks has lost a game, they do not appear to be showing ill-effects of the infamous “Super Bowl hangover”.  Richard Sherman and the vaunted Seattle defense are still highly physical, Russell Wilson is still making clutch plays at the right time, and Head Coach Pete Carroll seems to never lose the fire to win.  This team is still considered a perennial Super Bowl favorite, and why not?  They have built the team the right way and could quite possibly be better than they were last year.

The Redskins are in turmoil and need a good game and victory against a tough Seattle opponent on Monday night.  Kirk Cousins is coming off a five turnover game and needs to shake it off against the most talented defense in the league.  Our keys to the game will focus on what the Redskins will need to do better in order to secure the upset of the season thus far.  Seattle is favored by seven points and the difference there could come down to the simple things that allow a football team to succeed.

Keys to the game

Limit mistakes 

Penalties and special teams gaffs have plagued Washington so far this season.  In order for the Redskins to secure a victory, the little intricacies that don’t even factor into an overall game plan need to be executed perfectly or this team will continue to struggle.  Mental errors have easily taken what could be a 2-1 or even 3-0 team to 1-3.  For what it’s worth, mistakes can be overcome with sound play.  But that isn’t happening either, and Seattle is a team that will take advantage of mental errors and quickly bury a team.

Have a short memory

Kirk Cousins was clearly rattled in last Thursday’s game against the Giants.  The lasting images of this game will be Kirk with his head hanging down on the sidelines.  This cannot happen again.  The Redskins need a confident Cousins, one who can manage a game and make the throws necessary to move the ball down the field.  He can’t be scared or tentative; Seattle will crush him if he is.  If Cousins wants any chance of starting for Washington or anywhere else, his performance in the next two games is crucial.  It’s the difference between a five or six year multi-million dollar deal or spending his career as a backup.  (and time could be running out.)

Cousins will make mistakes against this defense.  They’re too good and he’s still too green not to.  The key is to shake off the errors and treat each drive as a new opportunity.  Learning from mistakes but also maintaining a forward perception of things is imperative for an NFL Quarterback.  Seattle’s offense is certainly nothing to scoff at, but the performance of the Redskins offense and the utilization of the many weapons it has is the major factor in the outcome of this matchup.

Out-physical the Hawks

Seattle is the most physical team in the NFL, on both sides of the ball.  The Redskins must match this hit for hit and pound for pound.  If Washington comes out on the field as soft as they did Thursday night against New York, it will be a long night.  Percy Harvin will be looking to put up huge numbers in this game so throwing the timing off there is important, though that would mean Haslett would need to bring the corners up closer to the line of scrimmage and that rarely happens.

Our Predictions

Joe Ziegengeist

I expect the Redskins to play better than most think, but will ultimately lose this one.  Seattle has a reputation for being a bad road team, but they will have half the FedEx Field crowd behind them and will win this one in a route.  Seahawks 35, Redskins 13.

Dave Nichols

I don’t envision the Redskins having any easier a time with the best defense in the NFL that they did last week with the Giants. In fact, I expect the Seahawks to have a field day both on offense and defense. The Redskins just seem incapable of getting out of their own way with penalties, making a tough job even more difficult. You just wish the league would stop scheduling the team for national TV games at this point. Seahawks 31, Redskins 10.

Neil Dalal

Cousins completely fell apart when faced with a little adversity against a mediocre defense and the teams problems snowballed. Now they have to face the defending champs. They might be a little healthier and more prepared but I don’t think there is anything that will significantly help this team against an opponent of such a magnitude. The Redskins will be lucky to get out of the first half without the boo birds coming out.  Seahawks 30, Redskins 13.

Eric Hobeck

Seahawks as both teams set new records.  Seahawks 70, Redskins 0.

Joe Miller

Kirk Cousins doesn’t throw as many interceptions this week but the offense still struggles to move the ball against the highly touted Seahawks defense. Coversely, the Redskins defense again struggles to get pressure, as Russell Wilson is able to get the ball out of his hands quickly (like Eli Manning last week) and put up points.  Seahawks 35, Redskins 17.

Joe Mercer

If there was ever a season-saving game, this would be it. After being embarrassed on their home field against division rival New York Giants, the Redskins host the defending champs with hopes of at least putting an end to a mini two-game slide. With backup Kirk Cousins seemingly forgetting how to play quarterback last week, throwing four picks over a span of eight pass attempts, the Redskins are going to need a Monday Night Miracle to keep this week’s match-up remotely competitive.   Seahawks 35, Redskins 17.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses expectations against Seahawks

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed the idea that playing the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks is a benchmark game: “I think we try to measure ourselves on an individual basis and a team basis.

I don’t like to measure ourselves against any other team. Obviously they’re the Super Bowl champs and you’d like to try to compete with the best and see where you stand, but I think every day we try to measure our guys and see how they’re doing, how they’re performing, if they’re getting better on a daily basis.

So we’re not really trying to measure ourselves against any other team, we’re trying to measure ourselves as how we’re getting better, how we’re preparing and what we do. Just moving forward, as long as I feel like we’re getting better, making strides for the better, playing hard with some passion, I’ll be all right no matter what the outcome is.

Obviously we took a little step back in that department against the Giants, so I’m looking for big-time improvement in that regard.”

Gruden talked about the need to improve from last week’s debacle against the New York Giants: “We just want to make sure we continue to get better. That’s it.

We laid an egg against the Giants, there’s no question about it. But offense, defense, everybody laid an egg, coaches included, in front of our home crowd.

That’s what the most disappointing thing is – you talk about the importance of playing in front of our home crowd and we’ve got to turn that around. We’ve got to take advantage of our home games. It’s a great advantage for us and we want to make sure we don’t ever let that happen again.

So we’re hoping that these guys come out, take it personally and come out and play with a lot of pride and passion and improve on their performance. That’s all we can ask.”

Washington Redskins Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins discuss matchup with Seahawks

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked if anything worried him the most about the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense: “No – that’s what concerns you the most is that they’re very good everywhere.

They’re averaging giving up 2.8 yards a carry, I think. You’d think with such a great pass defense, ‘Heck, let’s run the ball.’ But, teams are only averaging 2.8 yards a clip. We had a 500-play cutup on them on their run game, and 350 of them were two yards or less. So they do a great job in the run game.

And then obviously when you have to throw it, their corners are excellent, their safeties are excellent and then their pass rush is outstanding.

So, they don’t have a weak player, a weak link on their defense. We just have to go out and run our offense, try to be more physical and do what we do. Our guys are just going to have to play a little better and a lot better for us to have a chance.”

Gruden discussed how to stop running back Marshawn Lynch: “You have to go about it by bringing your whole body of work with you. Your pads – you’ve got to lower your pad level with him, you’ve got to bring your arms with you. If you try to tackle him on the side, he’ll run right through you.

But he is an angry runner and he is a violent runner and he loves contact. On the Monday night stage, he’s got a lot of energy – he’s got a week off, so he’s going to be fresh-legged – so it’s going to be important for us to gang tackle, wrap up and get him on the ground.

But he is a dynamic running back and he is an angry running back and a forced to be reckoned with, and to me, obviously Russell is very good with managing the game, but he [Lynch] is the heartbeat of that offense.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about what he has to do to be successful against the Seahawks defense: “Well, I think it’s a lot of the same themes that happen in every game – whether you’re playing an outstanding defense like Seattle or a defense that’s middle-of-the-road, you’re going to have to do the same things, which is protect the football, stay ahead of the chains, stay out of third-and-long. All the things that affect a normal game are going to affect it when you play a top opponent like Seattle.”

Seahawks secondary

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed playcalling to avoid Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: “They’ve got two very good corners. I think [Byron] Maxwell is playing excellent, too. And then the safeties are doing a good job.

They have good underneath help, sometimes, so [Richard] Sherman can slough back a little bit and play the deep ball. Sometimes when they want to play bump and run, man-to-man, he can get up and jam people and go a great job.

He’s obviously a great corner, but we feel like we have good receivers and we have to go out and challenge whoever the corner is. That’s why we went out and got DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts. So hopefully those guys will be up to the challenge.

They definitely have to step up their routes, their route discipline coming in and out of breaks, and the quarterback has to do a great job with the accuracy and anticipation for us to have a chance. We’re not going to shy away from anybody, but obviously we know both corners are very good.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about his decision-making process surveying the field being aware of Sherman’s presence: “We have our rules, we have our coverages that are kind of ignoring personnel. You’re just going to play by your rules, ‘All things being equal, here is how you play the game.’

Certainly personnel then is another element that factors into your decision-making as a quarterback, your play calling as a coach, where you’re going to put guys on the field and try to give guys a chance to be successful – understanding the personnel that we have and the personnel that they have in different spots. That’s the chess match, that’s the game.

He [Richard Sherman] is a great corner. We have a lot of respect for him.  There’s a reason he signed a great contract and has a lot of success and a Super Bowl ring.  So, he’s a guy to be aware of on the field, but at the same time you don’t want to be letting it affect you too much. That’s a balance you have got to find.”

Cousins stressed the need to avoid leading the Redskins receivers into big hits by the Seahawks’ safeties: “I think putting a receiver in a bad spot, period, whether you’re a hard hitter or not, you’re putting a guy in a tough spot.

This week these guys have certainly done a great job of reading quarterbacks’ eyes and breaking on the ball very, very quickly and playing at a high tempo.

I’m definitely going to want to be smart, throw to the open guy, and make good decisions. If I do that we’ll have much of a better chance of winning the game.”

Russell Wilson

Washington Redskins head coach was full of praise for Seattle Seahawks quareterback Russell Wilson: “He’s a very good decision maker, you can see that. Even when plays breakdown and he’s out of the pocket, he’s very protective with the ball.

He manages the game like a pro, like a veteran. He doesn’t make many mistakes, he’s accurate with the ball when he has to be and he plays their offense the way it’s supposed to be.

He doesn’t turn the ball over and their defense gets turnovers, and that’s the big difference in their team. That’s why they’re 2-1, they’re Super Bowl champs. They create turnovers on defense and they don’t turn the ball over on offense.

That starts with the quarterback making good, sound decisions, and he plays like a 10-year vet, that’s for sure.”

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recalled facing off against Wilson in his college and NFL career: “I actually went against him three times. Played him twice my senior year – the game that ended in the Hail Mary, which we were fortunate to come out with the win, and then the Big Ten Championship game, which actually they got the better of us in that one. And if I could, I’d do it over again and I’d rather switch it and be able to go to the Rose Bowl and win that championship game. And then the playoff game, yeah.

So played him three times, at least first person, and he is very talented, just a special player. And he is one of those guys – I told him when I saw him in the offseason after our rookie year, I said, ‘You make me nervous. When I am standing on the sideline and the ball is in your hand you make me nervous because I never know what the next play is going to be.’”

Cousins’s first matchup against Wilson was the famous Hail Mary replay game between Michigan State and Wisconsin: “The Hail Mary game I just remember a back and forth game. They got the lead early then we came back, stormed back with some good plays and then they came back late in the game, Russell made a bunch of plays. Then we got the ball with a couple minutes left and went down the field, got it to midfield, then had to throw that Hail Mary. So it was a back and forth battle of two really good football teams. It showed itself again in the Big Ten Championship game, two really good football teams.

In the playoff game I just remember we got ahead early, had a great start. FedExField was rocking and then they just kind of steadily kept marching back and stayed in it and then took the lead. It is one of those games that didn’t sit well with it because of how close we felt like we were to winning a playoff game.

But they are a great football team and they have shown why ever since then with all the success that they have had.”

Fantasy Football: Week 15 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

The Week 15 Survivor pool picks (or suicide pool picks if you prefer) are here. Week 14 saw some wild finishes that saved more than a few people. Are there any safe Survivor picks in Week 15 in the NFL?

Week 14 recap

The Baltimore Ravens improbable comeback paired with the Patriots similar comeback saved lots of entrants last week. The Pittsburgh Steelers are really the only team to take any sizable portion of remaining pool entrants out as the Steel Curtain was quite forgiving.

Bye week: None. We are done for the year with byes.

Survivor Pool – Week 15 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Thursday:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Carolina Panthers

29.90%

1

Philadelphia Eagles

31.60%

2

Philadelphia Eagles

17.40%

2

Carolina Panthers

28.55%

3

Denver Broncos

9.70%

3

Kansas City Chiefs

8.02%

4

Kansas City Chiefs

9.40%

4

Indianapolis Colts

7.14%

5

Atlanta Falcons

8.40%

5

Denver Broncos

5.41%

6

Indianapolis Colts

4.80%

6

San Francisco 49ers

4.20%

7

New Orleans Saints

4.60%

7

New Orleans Saints

3.67%

8

San Francisco 49ers

3.80%

8

Atlanta Falcons

3.28%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.80%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.31%

10

Detroit Lions

2.50%

10

Detroit Lions

1.58%

 

Again, a reminder that you should be doing the math on your own pool as this late in the game the rankings above are less representative of what is happening in your pool than earlier in the season. Let’s see what we have for Week 15.

  1. Denver Broncos – If you have the Broncos (and if you do I’m impressed) take them now. There continues to be no reason to save teams at this point. The Broncos offense is clicking on all cylinders and even without Wes Welker; they should be fine as Jacob Tamme will slide into the slot role for the Broncos. The Chargers offense has become more balanced through the season, but the Chargers pass defense won’t be able to keep the Broncos off the board to allow the Chargers offense to pile up enough points to win. This should be a track meet won by Denver. I give the Broncos an 84% chance of winning.
  2. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers swarming defense faces Geno Smith in Carolina. I’m not sure there is much more to say. The Panthers’ offense is a little banged up now so they may struggle to score, but Smith will likely gift wrap a few turnovers to help the Panthers’ cause. I give the Panthers an 83% chance of winning.
  3. Detroit Lions – The Ravens are bad on the road (1-5 record this year). The Lions are pretty good at home. The Lions were embarrassed in the snow last week, but back indoors they should be able to run around the Ravens. The Lions run defense is stout (last week was an anomaly in the sown) so the Ravens will need to rely on Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and whoever else is catching passes this week.  I give the Lions a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – This is only valid if Matt Flynn starts at QB for the Packers. If Aaron Rodgers is back, take this game off the board. The Cowboys head back home after a crushing defeat by the Chicago Bears. However, it is December and the Cowboys have struggled in December for many years and their run defense can be gashed. Eddie Lacy won’t likely be at 100%, but the Cowboys should be able to bounce back with Flynn at QB. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance of winning.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – The Texans cannot wait for the season to end. They fired Gary Kubiak this week, but I don’t imagine that will fire up the troops enough. The Colts have started to give some younger WRs playing time and the results have been solid. The Colts are back at home and Andrew Luck is a bit more comfortable at home so the Colts should be able to push the Texans closer to the number one pick in 2014 when they may get the chance to draft David Carr’s brother. I give the Colts a 71% chance of winning.
  6. Atlanta Falcons – Two teams with identical 3-10 records, but seemingly one is much worse than the other. Washington has become drama central as they have benched Robert Griffin III for Kirk Cousins for the rest of the season. Mike Shanahan continues to leak news to Adam Schefter regularly so that his side of the debacle can be told. The Falcons have two of their three wins at home this year and are starting to get healthier on offense. Their defense is still a sieve, but Washington’s pig-headed coaching staff likely can’t take advantage of that weakness. I give the Falcons a 69% chance of winning.
  7. New Orleans Saints – The Saints head on the road to take on the St. Louis Rams. In the Saints last road game, they were blown out of the Pacific Northwest by the Seahawks. They regrouped last week to manhandle the Panthers at home. I assume that the dome will feel like home to Drew Brees and company. The Rams have gotten good play from both sides of the ball and are beginning to incorporate more playmakers (like Stedman Bailey) into the offense so they are dangerous. They don’t have enough tools to keep up with Brees & Co. I give the Saints a 68% chance of winning.
  8. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks may be the best team in the NFL. They do head east into the cold, but they face an underachieving Giants team that shows very few vital signs.  I give the Seahawks a 64% chance of winning.

Just a reminder, there is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last couple of weeks in the season and most pools will come to a close in Week 17 or early in the playoffs.

Other teams I like early this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Oakland. Yes, I told you to avoid them last week as well and I was completely wrong about how incompetent Washington was and is. This week, they go on the road for a division matchup against a Raiders team that hasn’t been as bad as all would have thought they would be. I’d probably also stay away from the San Francisco 49ers heading east to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tennessee Titans at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards are now without Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary and the Titans could take advantage of that with Justin Hunter on the outside and Delanie Walker abusing the Cardinals soft middle.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Washington Redskins Postgame Audio: 24-14 Loss To Seattle

LANDOVER, MD–The Washington Redskins give up 24 unanswered points and fell to the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 as their season officially comes to an end.

The big story was Robert Griffin III.  Griffin III (10-of-19, 84 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) re-aggravated his right knee in the first quarter and looked gimpy the rest of the game.  He could barely run and an ugly play off a bad snap late in the fourth quarter left him in even more pain, allowing the Seahawks to recover a fumble at the Redskins five yard line which set up a chip shot field goal that put the game out of reach.

“I’m the quarterback of this team,”  Griffin III said. “My job is to be out there if I can play. The only time I couldn’t play was when I went down. I took myself out of the game. That’s just the way you have to play. Just to tackle the next question, I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”

Kirk Cousins came in, but didn’t have much time to work any magic.  Following the loss, Griffin III went straight to the hospital to have an MRI and will know the results sometime later tonight.

“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there,”  Griffin III said.  “But every time you step on the football field in between those lines you’re putting your life, your career [and] every single ligament in your body in jeopardy. That’s just the approach I had to take toward it. My teammates needed me out there, so I was out there for them. When it comes to the impact of the injury, I’m not sure what it is. We’ll figure that out here in the next few days. Whatever it is, I’ll make sure I come back healthy from it.”

Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan had no problem with him being out there.

“Robert will have the MRI,”  Shanahan said.  “We always check that out to see how serious it is… I did and I talked to Robert and he said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt.’ He said, ‘I can guarantee I’m hurt right now but give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I’m not injured.’ That was enough for me. I thought he did enough this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game. It’s always a tough decision when to pull a guy and when not to. I talked to him at halftime and had to feel good about him to go back in. I told him we’re going to run the football and he’s going to have to prove to me and like I said before, he said, ‘Trust me. I want to be in there and I deserve to be in there,’ and I couldn’t disagree with him.”

Even though they lost, Shanahan was happy with how the team responded from a 3-6 record at the bye to finishing the season as NFC East Champions.

“I told the players after the game that not too many football teams can be 3-6 and have the type of character to play how they did in the last half of the season. It’s really a compliment to the guys in that locker room, really a compliment to the fans out there to support us the way they did – really got our team energized throughout the second half of the season. It was a fun run. I’m very disappointed today. You always want to play your best football during the playoffs. We probably had our best first quarter. After that first quarter, we just didn’t seem to get things done. It was very tough, but I’m excited about this football team – the direction we’re headed. We’re not very happy. There’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year, and unfortunately, we’re going home a little bit earlier than expected.”

Listen here to what Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garçon, Kirk Cousins, Darrel Young, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Lorenzo Alexander, Logan Paulsen, London Fletcher, Josh Wilson & Stephen Bowen had to say as their season comes to an end.

Mike Shanahan Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Mike Shanahan Postgame RAW

Robert Griffin III Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Robert Griffin III Postgame RAW

Pierre Garçon Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Pierre Garcon Postgame RAW

Kirk Cousins Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Kirk Cousins Postgame RAW

Darrel Young Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Darrel Young Postgame RAW

Trent Williams Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Trent Williams Postgame RAW

Ryan Kerrigan Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Ryan Kerrigan Postgame RAW

Lorenzo Alexander Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Lorenzo Alexander Postgame RAW

Logan Paulsen Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Logan Paulsen Postgame RAW

London Fletcher Postgame Audio

01-06-13 London Fletcher Postgame RAW

Josh Wilson Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Josh Wilson Postgame RAW

Stephen Bowen Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Stephen Bowen Postgame RAW

Seahawks Cut Short Redskins’ Playoff Run with 24-14 Rout

One of the many times Robert Griffin III ended up on the ground, wincing. (photo by Brian Murphy)

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.

Seahawks formidable foe as Washington Redskins try to take next step

Robert Griffin III hands off to Alfred Morris in Redskins 40-32 win over New Orleans Saints in Week 1. (Photo by Brian Murphy)

First, the good news: the Washington Redskins won their last seven games in a row to advance to the NFC Playoffs. Now, the bad news: they advance to face the Seattle Seahawks, the next hottest team in the conference, winners of seven of their last eight games. Add in the fact that the Seahawks knocked the Skins out of the playoffs in both of Washington’s most recent post-season games (2005 & 2007) and that might have some fans of the Burgundy & Gold on edge Sunday evening.

If you’re reading this page, you know all about the Redskins, led by Rookie of the Year candidate Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and veteran linebacker London Fletcher. The Skins lead the NFC in rushing yards per game and are second in the conference in points per game (27.2). But the Seahawks are sixth in the conference at 25.8 points per game, so they’re no slouch either. Their secret weapon is quarterback Russell Wilson, a fellow rookie that will certainly garner his share of ROY votes in the off-season.

Wilson is in the mold of RGIII, a gifted athlete with exceptional presence in the pocket. He’s thrown for 26 touchdowns (against just 10 interceptions), while rushing for 489 yards at a 5.2 per carry clip. Wilson is supported by RB Marshawn Lynch, who carried for 1590 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, they led the league in fewest points per game, allowing just 15.3 per contest, and ranked fourth in fewest yards allowed. Formidable, indeed.

The even matchup and relative hotness of both squads has many pundits proclaiming the winner of the 4:30 pm matchup as favorite to advance out of the NFC — if they don’t get beaten up too much by their opponent.

This is pretty heady stuff for a team that was 3-6 heading into their bye week and had their head coach declare that he was in evaluation phase the rest of the season.

Mike Shanahan was asked at practice this week if his young team would be affected by nerves heading into the team’s first playoff game since 2007. “It’s been seven games with a do-or-die situation. So I think our mindset has been the same. Great preparation during the week and you’ve got to go get it done on the weekend.”

He’ll ask his rookie quarterback and rookie running back to shoulder the load on offense, as he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have all season. “We’ve got a little experience over the last few years with our offense. We’ve been able to put a nucleus of people together and with the addition of [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] and [running back] Alfred [Morris] who have been able to make some strides.”

While Griffin has received the lion’s share of praise for this offense, Kyle Shanahan has beamed about the production from Morris, especially since the bye week. “For about six weeks in a row, I’ve told him that he needs to have his best game of the year today and I feel that he’s continued to do it. Each game, he’s gotten better. It is rare. It’s a long year, especially for a rookie, and he’s never hit that wall.

“The guy doesn’t seem to get too sore, either. He’s always in practice as soon as we go on Wednesday – takes every rep. We make fun of him because he won’t ever go walk-through tempo either. He’s always full-speed. We can’t get him to slow down. He’s always fresh and he’s very fun to coach.”

Perhaps the biggest matchup on Sunday will be between the Skins receiving corps and the Seahawks big, physical defensive backs. Kyle Shanahan described what made the matchup so difficult. “They’re very good at jamming guys. They’re very physical. They try to beat you up all the way down the field. They compete in the run and the pass game. They have a lot of confidence in them. They play a lot of single safety and they get after it.”

Both Seattle corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, had their troubles this season — but not on the field. Browner returns this week after serving a four-game suspension for PED use while Sherman avoided a PED suspension by successfully appealing to the league. Browner had 44 tackles, three picks and three forced fumbles in 12 games. Sherman had a dominant season, even if Pro Bowl voters didn’t see it that way, recording eight interceptions to go along with 64 tackles, one sack and three forced fumbles.

It will be imperative for the Skins wide receivers — especially Pierre Garcon — to give RGIII open targets early to allow Morris the opportunities to find the seams in the Seahawks run defense, which ranked 10th in the league in rushing yards.

The Redskins run to the playoffs — and the play of their two rookies on offense — has re-energized a long-dormant fan base. A playoff win in the duo’s first NFL playoff game might have FedEx in a frenzy Sunday evening. With the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Minnesota Vikings Saturday, should the Redskins emerge victorious over the Seahawks they’d earn a trip to Atlanta to face a Falcons club that didn’t exactly light the world on fire down the stretch.

Big game, indeed.

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