With all of the injuries Washington’s dealt with lately, today’s game should have been a lopsided contest from the start, and somehow, by the grace of the defense, Blair Walsh’s leg, and penalties against the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins stayed competitive long enough to walk out of Century Link Field with a win.
The first quarter did little to inspire confidence in the somewhat “Replacements” offense that the Redskins have cobbled together. Samaje Perine fumbled a handoff from Kirk Cousins, which amounted to the Redskins’ 10th lost fumble this season, the highest number of lost fumbles in the league. On the following series, Seahawk Bobby Wagner pressed past Washington’s offensive line and sacked Cousins in the end zone, giving the home team a 2-0 advantage. Additionally, the special teams unit struggled, as well, with Seattle getting a hand on punter Tress Way’s first punt of the game.
However, familiar heroes took to the field on defense to keep Washington in the game. On the first two defensive drives, the Redskins held quarterback Russell Wilson and his teammates to three-and-outs. The defensive front kept continual pressure on Wilson, and the pressure paid off when cornerback Kendall Fuller intercepted the ball and gave Washington’s offense another shot at the field. Seattle’s kicker, Blair Walsh also gave the offense another chance as he missed his first of three missed field goals.
The second quarter went much the way of the first. The defense bent, but didn’t break. On one of Seattle’s longest drives of the game, Wilson and his unit were aided by Washington’s penalties. Breeland (pass interference) and Norman (horse collar) helped the Seahawks get closer to the end zone, but the defense kept them out, and Walsh missed his second field goal attempt of the game. The offense had two fruitless drives, but also managed to drive down the field to score their first of two touchdowns in the game. Tight end Vernon Davis, the team’s best available tight end today, had two strong catches, one in traffic and one wide open, and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who was invisible in last week’s game, also had a big catch to help move his team down the field. In the red zone, the Redskins brought in defender Ryan Anderson as a fullback, and runningback Rob Kelley pushed his way into the end zone to give Washington a 7-2 lead. That lead would hold when, with just a handful of seconds remaining, Walsh missed his third field goal attempt of the night.
In the second half, the defense again forced the Seahawks into a three-and-out. Ryan Kerrigan, Will Compton, and Zach Brown played as a dominant force, constantly pressuring Wilson and preventing the Seahawks from gaining any real momentum. Brown managed the Redskins’ first sack of the game, which came in the third quarter, and Compton had a chance at a hat trick of interceptions, though he ultimately only came down with one. Safety D.J. Swearinger also joined the ranks of defenders who had a chance to steal the ball away from Seattle’s offense, and as the defensive pressure mounted, Seattle’s exasperation began to show by way of a personal foul penalty.
Washington’s offense had a frustratingly quiet second half after kicker Nick Rose scored a field goal in the first few minutes of the half. Cousins was sacked twice, and the offense couldn’t get anything going. Chris Thompson, who should be widely recognized as the team’s mid-season MVP, had little impact, and many of Cousins’ passes were short or incomplete. When Way returned to the field to punt the ball back to the home team with just two and a half minutes remaining, it looked like the Redskins’ efforts to stay in the game were going to finally collapse.
Wilson drove his team down the field in just 48 seconds, picking up 71 yards in only five plays, to put his team ahead, 14-10. The Redskins gave up three major plays on that drive, including an 11 yard scramble by Wilson, a 21 yard play to Jimmy Graham, and a 30 yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. Yet, in spite of the defense’s inability to keep the Seahawks out of the end zone to prevent the touchdown, they managed to keep Seattle’s second two point attempt of the game from succeeding, as the pass to Graham was incomplete.
And so, with less than two minutes left in the game and down 14-10, Cousins and his offense took the field to try to stage an unlikely comeback. And, just like fans have been hoping for all season, the Redskins’ wide receivers came up big. Brian Quick made a smart adjustment to get his hands on one of Cousin’s passes, picking up 31 yards along the right sideline and getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Then, Josh Doctson made the play of the game. On a diving catch, Doctson stretched out his hands and found a way to possess and control the ball on a 38 yard pass, tumbling to be touched down by contact just outside of the goal line. Kelley followed up Doctson’s magic on the very next play with a touchdown, and Rose’s extra point put the Redskins on top, 17-14, with just 59 seconds to play.
No one in burgundy and gold could breathe easily at that point, hwoever, because nearly a full minute was plenty of time for the elusive and talented Wilson to drive down the field and tie or win the game. But, after all of the efforts they put in throughout the first 59 minutes of the contest, Washington’s defense wasn’t about to let that happen. Breeland, Brown, and Quiton Dunbar kept Seattle’s receivers in check, and defensive end Terrell McClain brought down the elusive Wilson by his shoestrings with seconds left on the clock. Fittingly, on the final play of the game as the Seahawks attempted a Hail Mary pass, the player who defended the pass and ended Seattle’s hopes was none other than DeAngelo Hall, who returned to the field tonight after being activated off PUP.
Hall and the rest of the team have a week to plan, practice, and, for the injured players, hopefully heal before returning to FedEx Field next Sunday. Then, they’ll face the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings, who currently hold the lead in the NFC North, and attempt to tally another win to stay in the playoff hunt during the second half of the season.
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