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Seahawks find a way to win a playoff game on the road
LANDOVER, Md. – The Seahawks were heading down a far-to-familiar road here Sunday night.
The Washington Redskins had jumped to a 14-0 lead by scoring on their first two possessions. Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch lost a fumble at the Washington 2-yard line when it appeared the Seahawks were driving to a go-ahead score in the third quarter. A rabid crowd of 84,325 was roaring its approval at every turn at FedExField.
Then, the Seahawks found not just one way, but several to alter their destiny.
The defense slammed the door on the Redskins’ offense, shutting them out over the final three quarters and limiting them to 203 yards. After those first two drives, the Redskins’ deepest penetration was the Seahawks’ 40-yard line. Lynch scored on a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter and finished with 132 rushing yards. And look who’s heading to the divisional round of the playoffs after the Seahawks rallied for a 24-14
“I just kept telling the guys, ‘We’ve been here before,’ ” rookie quarterback Russell Wilson said. “It was no different. You just play one game at a time. You just stay in the now.”
And now? The Seahawks’ first road playoff victory since 1983 sends them to Atlanta next Sunday to face the Falcons, the NFC’s top seed. Before Sunday, the last time the Seahawks had won on the road in the playoffs – the only time they had won on the road in the playoffs – was at Miami against the Dolphins on Dec. 31, 1983.
As the No. 5 seed, the Seahawks are facing the Falcons because the win by the No. 3-seed Green Bay Packers over the No. 6-seed Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night sends them to San Francisco to play the No. 2-seed 49ers this Saturday.
The win over the Redskins also was the Seahawks’ fourth in the row in the Wild Card round. They beat the defending champion New Orleans Saints in 2010, the Redskins in 2007 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2006 – all in Seattle.
“What an exciting game for us tonight,” said coach Pete Carroll, the excitement of the accomplishment evident in his voice and apparent on his face.
And there was plenty to be excited about after Sunday’s rally gave the Seahawks their sixth consecutive victory, and eighth in their past nine games.
On the drive to Lynch’s fourth-quarter TD, tight end Zach Miller was Wilson’s last option on a third-and-10 play. But he ended up with the pass in his hands, and a 22-yard gain.
“They had given us kind of a funny look on defense, so I was in (pass) protection,” said Miller, who also caught a pass for a two-point PAT after Lynch’s TD. “If my guy doesn’t (rush), then I’m able to get out. Then Russell just floated me the ball, which turned into a pretty good play.”
In addition to his decisive scoring run, Lynch scooped up a fumble by Wilson in the second quarter and ran with it for 20 yards on a drive that ended with Wilson’s 4-yard TD pass to fullback Michael Robinson – who, like Wilson, grew up in nearby Richmond, Va.
“Oh my goodness, what a play that was,” Carroll said of Lynch turning a possible turnover into the longest gain on the eight-play, 73-yard drive to the Seahawks’ first TD. “That had to be an extraordinary play to scoop it up and keep on going.
“Big huge play for us. It happened so fast you could hardly believe what he did.”
The defense lost sack-leader Chris Clemons to a knee injury in the third quarter, but rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin stepped in and produced a sack and a tipped pass. Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner again led the team in tackles – as he had done in the regular season – with nine. And Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas had an interception deep in Seahawks’ territory to set up the second of three field goals by Steven Hauschka.
After Hauschka injured a calf in the second quarter and was limited to field-goal duties, so punter John Ryan stepped in to kickoff.
When it was all over – after it had that early look that it already was over before it really got started – the Seahawks had rushed for 224 yards and held the NFL’s No. 1-ranked rushing attack to 104 yards. Wilson had outplayed Robert Griffin III in the ballyhooed matchup of rookie QBs, completing 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and a passer rating of 92.9 – compared to 77.5 for RGIII.
To his credit, RGIII was playing with an injured right knee that eventually forced him to leave the game in the fourth quarter after the leg bent the wrong way when he was reaching for a fumbled snap.
“He was frickin’ gallant,” Carroll said after the game.
But so was Carroll’s team for being so resilient and continuing to battle until the end.
“What was really exciting for us is that we weathered the storm, the crowd, the situation and the setting,” Carroll said. “The guys stayed focused.”
But as Carroll always says – and repeated after Sunday’s game – it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
That never was more apparent than in this game, with so much on the line.
“It was a marvelous statement,” Carroll said. Read