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Wilson stays weirdly calm, delivers Seahawks' win

Trailing 14-0 early in the game can make veteran quarterbacks crack. Russell Wilson acted like the Seahawks had the Redskins right where they wanted them.
Russell Wilson leaves the Washington Redskins' field after leading the Seattle Seahawks to their first road playoff win since 1983.

Russell Wilson leaves the Washington Redskins' field after leading the Seattle Seahawks to their first road playoff win since 1983. Corky Trewin/Seattle Seahawks

LANDOVER, Md. -- Down 14 points at the stomping feet of the largest playoff crowd in the football history of the nation's capital, while attempting to do something a Seattle team had not done in 30 years, the conclusion was plain:

The Seahawks had the Redskins right where they wanted them.

That was not apparent to many, maybe even among the Seahawks. Except for one guy.

"It is a little weird," said Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson. "To keep his composure in this wild environment, first playoff game for him and all . . . it's just weird.

"But Russell Wilson always does it. I've seen veteran, older quarterbacks crumble and crack in the same situation. Not him."

Wilson and the Seahawks ran the table. Sucked the air out of the building. Broke with their history as well as the hearts of of 84,325 burgundy-clad howlers at FedEx Field who audibly embraced the first Redskins home playoff game since 1999. Only to see the Seahawks -- the no-pedigree, no-status, no-cred Seattle freakin' Seahawks — kick them out of the playoffs for the third time in seven years, this one 24-14.

With the rhythmic, patient pounding of a blacksmith, the Seahawks put up 24 points in a row on a team with a six-game winning streak, who on a chilly evening were no match for the steady heat.

Or as Pete Carroll put it, "They were kicking our butts, no doubt about that. Then they didn't."

While the self-obsessed Washington crowd anguished over the injury fate of their valiant hero, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, and the wisdom — if any — deployed by coach Mike Shanahan to persist in keeping Griffin in harm's way, the Seahawks showed precisely how to win a road playoff game.

They stuck with a game plan that featured RB Marshawn Lynch (132 yards in 20 carries), allowed Wilson to be Wilson on his unscripted gambols from the pocket (67 yards in 8 carries), and offered patience to a well-regarded young defense that, truth be told, wasn't ready for the atmosphere of the postseason road.

The kid defenders proved adept learners. Surrendering only 74 yards of total offense over the final three periods, they actually finished below their average of 15.9 points allowed that led the NFL.

"That is ridiculously good defense," Carroll said, and history backed him up. Only the 1957 Detroit Lions and 2003 Philadelphia Eagles have won playoff game despite being down 14 to start. And it helped erase some stigma in the Seahawks' own annals. The triumph broke a string of nine consecutive road losses (counting the 2006 Super Bowl defeat) in the postseason dating to 1983.

But it was the steadiness of the human dial tone, Wilson, that kept the Seahawks moving on in the playoffs to Atlanta Sunday in the divisional round.

"I kept telling the guys we've been here before," Wilson said. "It's no different."

In truth, it was different, beyond being in the playoffs. The careful-as-a-hospital-premie-ward Seahawks blew some chances. In previous wins, they finished off the Bears and Cardinals with some late-game perfection, and blew out Buffalo, Arizona and San Francisco. This time, they dropped the ball — twice.

Lynch, one of the most reliable rushers in the game, fumbled on the 2-yard line as he approached the end zone. The Redskins recovered. In the second quarter on first-and-five at the Seattle 45, he and Wilson messed up the handoff on a read option — a common development that has helped keep the play out of pro football.

But this time, Lynch bailed out his teammates with a play that will rank among the great rescues in club history. As the ball was batted along the ground, Lynch alertly peeled back and instead of pouncing, kept his feet, scooped up the ball and blew past the disorganized Washington defense for a 20-yard gain. That led to Seattle's first touchdown.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Jan 7, 9:50 a.m. Inappropriate

WHAT? No mention of the place kicker here either? Mr Thiel, here's a copy of the letter I already sent this morning to the Times, but thought you should see it too.......

Hi Steve and Danny,

I enjoyed your write-ups about the Seahawks game this morning, and I am really excited the Seahawks won with such a great comeback. I have got to confess that I do not regularly follow the Seahawks, but am doing that now in the playoffs, and it sure is wonderful they are doing so well, and I really hope they go all the way.

However, I don't see in your articles this morning that you mentioned the place kicker Steven Hauschka, unless I missed it somewhere...... I see that he kicked THREE field goals, and I think two were after he injured his ankle. So that makes nine total points. So by my math, 24 minus 9 equals 13, so the Seahawks would not have won the game without those three field goals.

So why doesn't he get more credit? And deserve mention in your articles? In fact, I had to look hard for the fine print to even see his contribution.

Maybe you could write an article about him this week, even if you've already done so this season. And you could add this "human interest" to your story: his uncle, for whom he is named, is a well-known professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington (although the older Steve Hauschka actually spells his name Stephen). Now how often does a famous place kicker perform in the same town as his famous uncle?

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

Nancy K. White

Posted Mon, Jan 7, 1:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey Nancy,
I agree that Hauschka deserves undue praise for his efforts, especially injured. But gotta correct your math error...24 minus 9 is 15. That means we would still have won the game without the nine points you credit him with.

Just checking the facts, ma'am.

Posted Mon, Jan 7, 4:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Actually he also kicked an extra point so without his efforts we would have been tied up at 14-14.

Also Jerry Brewer in the Seattle Times wrote "And kicker Steven Hauschka, who made three field goals despite injuring an ankle on the shabby FedExField turf, made a 22-yarder with 5:32 left to put Seattle ahead, 24-14" which seems a reasonable acknowledgement of his accomplishments if not his uncle's.

WSDW

Posted Tue, Jan 8, 12:05 a.m. Inappropriate

It was impressive that even when the Seahawks were not playing up to snuff, they methodically were able to win.

jhande

Posted Tue, Jan 8, 10:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Let's see how the Hawks do against a two-legged quarterback this week.

bigyaz

Posted Tue, Jan 8, 4:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle 34, Atlanta 20

jhande

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