After years and years of watching Seattle’s football teams lose on the road in the playoffs, our Seahawks have finally gotten it done.
To tell you the truth, it seems a bit surreal for me. After all, I wasn’t even a Seahawks fan when the team won a playoff game outside of Seattle. I wasn’t even four-years old. It just goes to show what the Seahawks were up against on Sunday in terms of history.
History can be funny though. You can’t expect this year’s team to perform like one from the 80s, 90s or even Pete Carroll’s 2011 playoff team that lost to the Chicago Bears on the road. But even reminding oneself that this is a very different team, it’s hard to shake those memories of historical performances.
After the first quarter of football against the Washington Redskins, it looked like history might just continue to repeat.
Robert Griffin III threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and the defense looked as though it had no answer for Griffin or the Redskins rookie running back.
Michael Robinson, in a postgame interview, said the team knew they were going to have to overcome an emotional start from the home team.
“It’s not about the first quarter. It’s not about the second or third. It’s about the finish. It’s about the fourth quarter in the playoffs.”
The pace the Redskins were performing at was definitely on a different level.
“We just weren’t there with the tempo at the start of the game. They did a great job at coming out of the chutes at us,” said Carroll. “Our guys stayed focused and started to put the game in order.”
After getting on the board with a field goal and forcing the Redskins offense to punt in the second quarter, it started looking like things were going the Seahawks way after one play in particular.
On 1st-and-5, Russell Wilson faked a handoff to Marshawn Lynch. Wilson fumbled the ball and Lynch had the awareness to pick the ball up on the run, break to the outside and pick up 20 yards on the play. Five plays later, Robinson caught a four-yard pass for the Seahawks first touchdown of the game.
If the Redskins had been able to recover, it could have drastically changed the outcome of the game.
“Oh my goodness, what a play that was,” said Carroll. “It was a huge play for us. It happened so fast you could hardly believe what he did.”
On the Redskins’ following drive, Earl Thomas intercepted a deep pass intended for Pierre Garcon. A 33-yard pass to Doug Baldwin and runs by Lynch put Seattle in position to kick a field goal before halftime. After a 14-point deficit, the Seahawks were within a point and moving the ball extremely well.
“Eventually we figured out what they were doing offensively and defensively, and we started to move the ball,” said Golden Tate after the game. “I thought after those 14 points they scored, we had no problem moving the ball.”
The Hawks didn’t have a problem moving the ball after halftime, but they did have a problem with scoring. After driving down to the 2-yard line, Lynch fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Redskins.
Their second drive of the half stalled after getting inside the Redskins 30-yard line before Wilson was sacked for an 8-yard loss to force a punt. Still down by one point going into the fourth quarter, and fans were starting to get nervous.
With Griffin visibly unable to run with his usual explosiveness, the Redskins worked out of the shotgun and looked to pass for most of the second half. That strategy proved ineffective.
Down 14-13, Seattle got the ball back with 10:53 remaining in the game. At midfield, Wilson completed a big third-down pass to Zach Miller for 22 yards. He followed that by acting as lead blocker for Lynch on a 27-yard touchdown run.
A two-point conversion to Miller put Seattle up 21-14. Lynch finished the game with 132 yards on 20 attempts.
Washington had seven minutes left on the clock to answer, but Griffin was sacked by Bruce Irvin for a 12-yard loss on the Redskins first play of the drive. Griffin fumbled the next snap and twisted his injured knee as he went down.
Griffin came out of the game and the Seahawks kicked a short field goal to make it 24-14 and put the game out of reach. The pass rush overwhelmed Redskins’ backup Kirk Cousins as he went 3-of-10 for 31 yards passing over their final two drives.
With three-straight wins on the road, it’s time to stop saying this is a team that can’t win on the road. With a six-game winning streak, the Seahawks are getting hot at the best time of the year.
“It’s all coming together,” said Tate. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
Robinson had a message for Seahawks fans after the game.
“12th Man, you’re always with us. We heard you all the way from Seattle, and we’re going to need you next week in Atlanta.”
With the win, Wilson became the only rookie quarterback to advance in the playoffs. The Seahawks became the lowest seed and the only road team to advance to the divisional playoff round next weekend. They’ll play the Atlanta Falcons at 1300 EST on Sunday.
The 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers in San Francisco on Saturday. I’m not sure whether to root for a team that the Seahawks just beat 42-13, or what would make for an epic rematch with the Packers in the NFC Championship game.