Seahawks rally as Wilson outplays ailing Griffin

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LANDOVER, Md. -- In the spotlight of the playoffs Sunday, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson outshined his more heralded rookie counterpart, gimpy Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
As a result, Seattle rallied for a 24-14 wild-card victory Sunday at FedEx Field.
The Seahawks quickly fell behind by two touchdowns, and they allowed Wilson to be sacked five times, but they still advanced to an NFC divisional-round game next Sunday at Atlanta against the top-seeded Falcons.
Wilson, who was picked 75th overall to Griffin's second, in large part because he's just 5-foot-11, completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards. He also ran eight times for 67 yards.
Griffin completed just 10 of 19 passes for 84 yards and ran five times for 21 yards before making an early exit.
During Washington's second early touchdown drive, he reinjured his previously sprained right knee while planting on a throw to receiver Pierre Garcon. He stayed in the game but wasn't the same, and he seriously injured the knee and while trying to corral a bad snap with 6:19 remaining.
"The knee didn't affect me trying to throw, (but) it was hard to explode off it running," Griffin said.
In contrast, Wilson just kept getting better.
"People always ask me if I have a chip on my shoulder because I was a third-round draft pick," Wilson said. "I believe (the Seahawks) play with a chip on our shoulder because ... we want to prove ourselves every week. We can play with anyone, any time and any place."
The Redskins had won seven consecutive home playoff games dating to 1986, and they won their final four regular-season games at FedEx Field this season.
"Once (the coaches) figured out this whole option attack with (Russell) and (running back Marshawn Lynch), it's been going great," said tight end Anthony McCoy, whose Seahawks are the NFC's hottest team with six straight victories. "Russell's pretty much mastered it."
Wilson certainly mastered the Redskins after the slow start. Down 14-0 after Washington's first two drives ended in 4-yard touchdown passes by Griffin, and after being outgained 129 yards to 9 in the first quarter, the Seahawks scored the final 13 points of the first half, dominating the yardage 172-11 during the second quarter.
Washington managed just 74 total yards in the final three quarters.
Stephen Hauschka's 32-yard field goal 2:55 into the second quarter concluded a 12-play, 66-yard series that featured a toe-dragging 27-yard grab by receiver Sidney Rice and a 12-yard catch and run by tight end Zach Miller on third-and-12.
When Seattle got the ball back, Lynch (20 carries, 132 yards) picked up a fortunate bounce of a Wilson pitch and raced 20 yards to the Washington 35. It took five plays for Wilson to find fullback Michael Robinson open for a 4-yard touchdown with 4:38 remaining in the half, slicing the Seahawks' deficit to 14-10.
Two plays later, safety Earl Thomas intercepted Griffin's bomb for Garcon at the Seattle 24-yard line. After Wilson avoided to the blitz and found Doug Baldwin for 6 yards and a first down on third-and-5, Baldwin was left alone and took a catch 33 yards to the Washington 30 at the two-minute warning. Hauschka's 29-yard kick on the final play of the half narrowed the gap to 14-13.
The Redskins ended Seattle's first three series of the second half with a fumble recovery at the Washington 3-yard line and a pair of sacks, but Wilson, Lynch and Co. kept coming.
Lynch's 27-yard burst with 7:08 remaining finally gave the Seahawks the lead.
Seattle defensive tackle Clinton McDonald then recovered the fumble on the play on which Griffin was injured for good, leading to a Hauschka 29-yarder that closed out the scoring.
Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin in the fourth quarter, and he completed three of 10 passes for 31 yards.
"I told the players 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," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, whose team won its final seven regular-season games. "It was a fun run."
NOTES: Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger lasted less than a series after missing all three practices last week with the sprained left ankle he suffered in the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie Josh LeRibeus replaced him. ... Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons exited with a left knee injury in the third quarter. ... Griffin III passed for more yards (43) on the first series than veteran Mark Brunell (41) did in Washington's last playoff victory seven years earlier at Tampa Bay.

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