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Seahawks chasing prehistoric history
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Seahawks have traveled to the Nation’s Capitol in an attempt to do something no Seahawks team has done since 1983: Win a playoff game on the road.
Take a moment to let that sink in. The last time – and only time – the Seahawks won in the postseason outside of Seattle was Dec. 31, 1983. After dispatching the Denver Broncos at the Kingdome on Christmas Eve in the first playoff game in franchise history, the Seahawks flew to Miami and did the unthinkable on New Year’s Eve. They beat the Don Shula-coached, Dan Marino-led Dolphins 27-20 at the Orange Bowl to earn a trip to the AFC Championship game.
Ronald Reagan was living in the White House. Gas was $1.24 a gallon. Paul Allen was three weeks shy of 30th birthday. Pete Carroll had just finished a season as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at his alma mater, the University of Pacific, and was about to enter the NFL for the first time as defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills. Russell Wilson? Forget about it. The Seahawk’s rookie quarterback wasn’t born until 1988.
This week, veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant referred to his 78-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ victory over the Redskins in a 2007 wild-card playoff game as “ancient history.”
So that makes the Seahawks’ last road victory in the playoffs a prehistoric event.
But here the Seahawks are, in their third season under Carroll, trying to go where only one other team in franchise history has when they play the Washington Redskins at nearby FedExField. Since that ’83 upset of the Dolphins in Miami, the Seahawks have been tripped up on the postseason road in Miami (1984), Houston (1987), Cincinnati (1988) and, after a 10-season playoff drought, in Green Bay (2003 and 2007), Detroit (the 2005 Super Bowl) and Chicago (2006 and 2010).
The good news in all of this? Punter Jon Ryan, kick returner Leon Washington, special teams standout Heath Farwell, backup tackle Frank Omiyale, guard Paul McQuistan, linebacker Leroy Hill, defensive end Chris Clemons, fullback Michael Robinson and Trufant are the only players on this Seahawks team who had even been born the last time the Seahawks won on the road in the postseason.
So they don’t know about and, better yet, they don’t care about the franchise’s past frustrations. Their focus is on treating Sunday’s game like a championship matchup, an approach which served them so well during the five-game winning streak to close the regular season that launched the Seahawks into the postseason for the second time under Carroll and 12th time in club history.
“I can’t say there’s a different intensity, because we prepare like it’s a championship week every game,” said Robinson, who was born the same year as that defining victory over the Dolphins in Miami.
“So this is just another championship opportunity for us to go out there and show what we can do. It just so happens that 20 teams are at home and we’re still playing. So we’re going to try and keep playing as long as we can.”
That’s what sets this championship-game opportunity apart from the others. The Seahawks aren’t just on the road; they’re on the road to the next round of the playoffs. A win against the Redskins will put them into the divisional round next weekend against either the Atlanta Falcons or San Francisco 49ers – again, on the road. With a loss, another postseason loss on the road, the Seahawks will join those teams that already are at home.
Asked about Sunday’s game being a marquee matchup because it’s Wilson vs. Robert Griffin III in a battle of two red-hot rookie quarterbacks; and Marshawn Lynch vs. Alfred Morris in a battle of the backs who finished third and second in the league in rushing; and features teams that are on seven- and five-game winning steaks in the Redskins and Seahawks.
“I didn’t know it was a marquee matchup,” he said. “It’s just two teams going out there and playing football. Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose.”
For Robinson, as well as Wilson, this game is a homecoming of sorts. They grew up in nearby Richmond, Va. Robinson already has bought 25 tickets – “and counting,” he said – to the game for friends and family members.
“It will be pretty cool,” he said. “It will kind of feel like a college-type thing for me, just because they were able to go to Penn State games and now a lot of people will get to go to a pro game.”
But instead of seeing the Michael Robinson who was a quarterback for the Nittany Lions, they will be watching the Michael Robinson who has become a Pro Bowl-caliber fullback for the No. 3-ranked running game in the NFL during the regular season and a co-captain of the Seahawks’ special teams that also ranked No. 3 in the NFL.
As for Wilson, he definitely doesn’t see this as an opportunity to catch up with family and friends. He’s too busy chasing the prehistoric, and trying to continue the present.
“It is home for me. It will be exciting to play there and be back there,” he said. “But it is a business trip. So we’re excited about the opportunity.”
An opportunity to succeed where the best teams in Seahawks history have not: On the road, and in the playoffs.