Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14
January, 6, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
LANDOVER, Md. -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 24-14 victory over the Washington Redskins in a wild-card playoff game Sunday at FedEx Field:
What it means: The fifth-seeded Seahawks will face the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional-round game in the Georgia Dome on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. This was their first road victory in a playoff game since the 1983 season. They will face a Falcons team that has not won a playoff game with Mike Smith as head coach. The Falcons rode Matt Ryan's stellar play and the NFL's easiest schedule to the top seed in the NFC. The Seahawks have now won a playoff game following two of Pete Carroll's first three seasons as head coach.
What I liked: The Seahawks stuck with their plan and kept plugging away even though they weren't getting points for long stretches. Marshawn Lynch atoned for his fumble near the Washington goal line by breaking a 27-yard touchdown run on third-and-5 to give Seattle its first lead of the game. Quarterback Russell Wilson was out front blocking on this play and others.
Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas showed outstanding range in sprinting over to pick off a deep pass from Robert Griffin III. That play showed the Redskins wouldn't be able to throw the ball down the field without incurring significant risk. Thomas had three picks during the regular season. That's a good number for a safety, but Thomas has the talent to produce more turnovers. This was a big one.
The Seahawks took advantage of matchup advantages at tight end. Zach Miller made a difficult catch early and his catch for a two-point conversion was key. Miller also had a 22-yard reception on his way to a four-catch, 48-yard game. Washington allowed 10 touchdown passes to tight ends during the regular season, third most in the NFL.
What I didn't like: Seattle's defense got steamrolled in the first quarter as the Redskins amassed a 129-9 yardage lead and 14-0 scoring lead. Alfred Morris ran without much resistance. Griffin threw two short scoring passes. Just like that, Seattle was behind by 14 points, its largest deficit of the season and largest since New England led the Seahawks by 13 points.
Tight end Anthony McCoy dropped a pass shortly before halftime, one reason Seattle settled for a field goal when a touchdown would have put the Seahawks into the lead. Lynch then lost a fumble on a run from the Washington 1-yard line on the first possession of the second half. Those miscues cost Seattle as many as 11 points, keeping the Redskins in the lead, 14-13, through three quarters.
The Seahawks kept racking up yards without getting enough points over the second and third quarters. Wilson took five sacks. He has now taken 11 sacks over his past two games after taking eight over his five previous games combined. Wilson also appeared to make a couple of questionable decisions, a rarity for him. He was fortunate Washington did not intercept him in the end zone during the first half.
My field position: Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is worth how much again? More than a billion, right? That kind of loot would buy a lot of sod. The playing surface at FedEx Field was a disgrace. It's tough to know whether it contributed to a couple of knee injuries suffered in this game, but why take the risk? The weather was beautiful for January, but the field looked as though it had weathered a tractor pull recently.
Injury update: The Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a knee injury in the second half. Kicker Steven Hauschka returned after suffering an injured ankle. Punter Jon Ryan kicked off while Hauschka was out.
Lynch does it again: Lynch carried 19 times for 131 yards, his 11th game of the season with at least 100 yards rushing.
Second-guessing Shanahan: The Redskins left Griffin in the game even though it was clear early that a knee injury was hurting him. The move backfired. Griffin struggled as the game progressed. He then injured the knee even worse in the fourth quarter. Washington declared him out. The Redskins had won a game with Kirk Cousins in the lineup this season. They couldn't have been worse on offense with Cousins in the game once it became clear Griffin couldn't function.
What's next: The Seahawks face NFC South champions Falcons at the Georgia Dome.