The last rookie standing in the 2013 NFL Playoffs? Russell Wilson out of all people, doing exactly what the Seattle Seahawks need him to do in order to get another win.
Two of the NFL’s hottest teams met at FedEx field, with the battle of the rookie quarterbacks at the forefront of the matchup. Only problem is Robert Griffin III isn’t the same player he was before spraining his knee, still hurting going into the game. He got off to a good start, but after the first quarter, the Redskins disappeared from the map, as their defense started playing on their own, without an offensive half to take advantage of all their work. Eventually, the Seahawks got the break they deserved.
First quarter: Seattle gain only 9 yards on 7 plays. The Washington Redskins? After the first quarter, they didn’t run a single play from inside the Seattle territory. They out-gained the Seahawks 129-9 through the first 15 minutes, taking a 14-0 lead. The rest of the way? 371 to 74, Seahawks.
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch just began playing, as it seemed the entire Seahawks team grew confident once they saw Griffin was hurt after an incomplete pass. Griffin was 6-9 for 68 yards and two touchdowns after 15 minutes. He was 4-10 for 16 yards with one interception the rest of the way. The Seahawks, winning on the road in a playoff game for the first time since 1983 became just the third team in NFL postseason history to win a game after being down by 14 at the end of the first quarter.
What worked so well for the Seahawks in the final three quarters? The option. Russell Wilson isn’t required to do too much in this offense. Just limit his mistakes, which have hardly been happening lately, and make sure Marshawn Lynch gets his touches. Adding to his arsenal, Wilson made a block (that didn’t go too well) as Lynch drove through for the winning touchdown, setting the score at 21-14 after a two point conversion, later getting another field goal off of Griffin’s fumble that ended his day, injuring his knee too much for him to comeback.
Lynch was the real deal, as always, for the Seahawks. He ran 132 yards on 20 carries, his best performance since week 13 of the 2011 season. His 65 yards after first contact and a 3.3 yards after contact per rush average were higher than any game this past regular season.
Wilson, as we said, was simply mistake free. He didn’t turn the ball over, as his fumble was recovered by the team. He finished with 15-26 for 187 yards, throwing a touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the second quarter to put Seattle within a touchdown from the Redskins. He had a big day on the ground as well with 68 yards on 8 carries, shrugging off the immense punishment he was taking, getting sacked five times and taking a few more hits.
In Washington, it’ll be questions about whether Mike Shannahan did the right thing. They lost, so he didn’t. That’s the way things are judges in the NFL, and no matter how much RG3 felt he deserved he needs to be out-there, his presence did more harm than good when he was so limited. Washington became the team to give up more points than anyone else in postseason history after scoring at least 14 in the opening quarter.
For the Seattle Seahawks, it’s just the next step in the progress of a rookie quarterback who didn’t get too much attention going into the season, but is the last one left standing, although he and his team did catch a break that helped them head into Atlanta.