The last time the Seahawks had won a playoff game on the road was 1983. But Sunday, down 14-0 to the Redskins, they rallied for a 24-14 victory over the Redskins in an NFC Wild Card game.
By Clare Farnsworth
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 victory in their NFC wild-card playoff win over a Redskins team that came into the game riding a seven-game winning streak.
“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.
“That was just playing centerfield and reading the ball,” Thomas said. “I had a great break on the play and was able to finish the play.”
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.
|Total Net Yards||380|
|Time of Possession||34:20|
|Robert Griffin III||10/19||84||2||1|
|Robert Griffin III||5||21||0||9|
|Total Net Yards||203|
|Time of Possession||25:40|
In a nutshell: The Redskins took the opening kickoff and drove quickly – and impressively – to Robert Griffin III’s 4-yard TD pass to Evan Royster on a third-and-goal play that capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive. RGIII was 3 of 4 for 43 yards, while Alfred Morris carried four times for 34 yards. After the Seahawks’ first possession ended on a third-down sack, the Redskins drove 54 yards in 11 plays to another 4-yard TD pass – this one from RGIII to tight end Logan Paulsen. RGIII was 3 of 5 for 25 yards and also ran twice for 9 yards.
Player of the quarter: RGIII. Despite limping on a couple of occasions because of his injured right knee, the Redskins’ rookie QB not only got the best of Wilson, he did it by playing keep away. And completing passes. And throwing two TD passes. And running the ball.
Play of the quarter: Pick a TD pass. Each came on third-and-goal. Each went to one of the Redskins’ less-heralded players. Each was thrown by RGIII.
Number of the quarter: 7. The number of plays the Seahawks ran in the opening quarter.
In a nutshell: Redskins 14, Seahawks 13. After going down 14-0 in the first quarter, the Seahawks outscored the Redskins 13-0 in the second quarter. They got on the board with Steven Hauschka’s 32-yard field goal that capped a 12-play, 66-yard drive that started in the first quarter. Russell Wilson hit his first three passes for 48 yards and ran once for 19 yards, but his third-down pass to Sidney Rice hit the crossbar to force the Seahawks to settle for a field goal. The Seahawks’ defense then forced a three-and-out, and Wilson led an eight-play, 73-yard drive that ended with his 4-yard TD pass to Michael Robinson – who also had a 19-yard reception. Marshawn Lynch ran 20 yards with a Wilson fumble on the drive. On the Redskins’ second play of the next series, Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas intercepted Robert Griffin III’s pass that was intended for Pierre Garcon, giving the Seahawks the ball at the Seattle 26. The Seahawks then drove 63 yards in 10 plays to a 29-yarder by Hauschka, who had left the game with a sprained ankle but return to get the Seahawks within one as time expired. Wilson and Doug Baldwin hooked up twice on the drive for 39 yards.
Player of the quarter: Hauschka. Yes, Wilson led the three scoring drives. But the kicker gets the nod for kicking two field goals, including the 29-yarder when he had to almost skip onto the field because of his sore ankle.
Play of the quarter: The TD pass from Wilson to Robinson. There were longer plays. There were plays the converted third downs. But that pass finally got the Seahawks the end zone and allowed them to get back into the game.
Number of the quarter: 4. Make that the number of the half, as each of the three TD passes covered that many yards.
In a nutshell: Redskins 14, Seahawks 13. The Seahawks took the kickoff to open the second half and drove to the Redskins’ 1-yard line, but Redskins linebacker London Fletcher forced Marshawn Lynch to fumble and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins recovered. Lynch had carried for 26 yards on the first play of the half and for 15 to the Redskins’ 2. But the defense held, forcing the Redskins to punt after they had gained 23 yards on eight plays, as Richard Sherman tipped a third-down pass incomplete.
Player of the quarter: Fletcher. The Seahawks were on the doorstep of a go-ahead score, until the Redskins’ 37-year-old linebacker separated Lynch and the ball with 10½ minutes to play in the quarter.
Play of the quarter: Fletcher’s fumble-forcing hit, of course.
Number of the quarter: 0. Following a 27-point first half, neither team scored in the quarter.
In a nutshell: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14: The Seahawks finally took the lead with 7:08 left in the game when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 27-yard run to cap an eight-play, 79-yard drive. Lynch also had an 18-yarder, while Russell Wilson passed 22 yards to tight end Zach Miller on a third-and-10 play. The Seahawks went for two on the PAT and Wilson passed to Miller again for a seven-point lead. The Seahawks then got the ball right back – at the Redskins’ 5-yard line – as Robert Griffin III dropped the center’s snap and Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald recovered. Steven Hauschka kicked a 24-yard field goal to make it 24-14 with 5:32 to play.
The Seahawks played the quarter without sack leader Chris Clemons, who injured his left knee in the third quarter.
Player of the quarter: Lynch. After fumbling at the Redskins’ 2-yard line in the third quarter, Lynch atoned by giving the Seahawks the lead on his TD run. Honorable mention to rookie Bruce Irvin, who had a sack and deflected pass in the quarter while subbing for Clemons.
Play of the quarter: Lynch’s TD, which was living proof of the Pete Carroll adage that “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Number of the quarter: 1983. That had been the last, and only, time the Seahawks had won a playoff game on the road.