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Defense Crucial To Keeping Redskins In Game After Offensive Stagnation
LANDOVER, Md. – The Washington Redskins came up with some big defensive plays to keep the score close for three-and-a-half quarters Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card playoffs.
But the well ran dry near the end of the game, and the Seahawks out-lasted the wounded Redskins, 24-14, at FedEx Field to advance to next Sunday’s divisional playoff contest against the Atlanta Falcons.
Washington, which saw its seven-game win streak come to an end, forced a crucial red zone turnover in the third quarter and sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson five times, but the Redskins couldn’t come up with a much-needed stop midway through the fourth.
The Seahawks drove 79 yards in eight plays and scored on a 27-yard touchdown run by tailback Marshawn Lynch. They tacked on a 2-point conversion pass from Wilson to tight end Zach Miller to make the score 21-14 with 7:08 remaining.
Kicker Steven Hauschka kicked a 22-yard field goal less than two minutes later.
“We were just waiting for our offense to make plays. At no point did we feel pressure. We just needed to go out and make plays, and that’s just how it is,” said linebacker London Fletcher, the unquestioned leader of the Redskins defense. “Defensively, sometimes you have to pick your offense up.
“We needed to make one more play when the score was 14-13. We needed to make one more play to swing the momentum for us, but we weren’t able to do that, weren’t able to get off the field and gave up the touchdown and 2-point conversion.”
The Redskins did a solid job holding the Seahawks until that point. Washington maintained a tenuous 14-13 lead for the entire third quarter.
The defense’s biggest stop came on Seattle’s first drive of the second half. The Seahawks drove to Washington’s 1-yard line, but Lynch was stuffed on second-and-goal and had the ball jarred from his hand by Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield.
Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins recovered to steal away Seattle’s momentum.
“That was huge. It gave us the opportunity to still be in the game,” Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. “Defensively, we never gave up. We never gave up, and that’s what we can remember from this. We’re going to go down fighting.”
For all the work the defense did to keep the score close, the Redskins’ offense did little to help matters. Washington had 129 yards and 14 points in the first quarter but managed only 74 yards the rest of the game.
“We didn’t make plays on offense,” Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. “The defense played great. They stopped them. They did a lot of great things. We just didn’t step up when our number was called on offense.”
Seattle held the ball for 34:20 and eventually wore down Washington’s defense. The Seahawks gained 100 of their 380 total yards in the fourth quarter and scored on their first two possessions of the final period.
Lynch finished with 132 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. Wilson, a Richmond native, passed for 187 yards and a touchdown and added 67 rushing yards on eight carries.
But those yards didn’t come easy. The Redskins harassed him for most of the game. Safety Reed Doughty had 12 tackles and two sacks, his first quarterback stops since the 2010 season. Fletcher had 15 tackles and assisted on a sack.
“It’s one of those situations where we won seven in a row and had each other’s backs all year,” Doughty said. “The offense has been amazing all year and the defense got turnovers when we needed to. We got one on the goal line, but that was really it. We just didn’t have enough of the big plays that we needed to turn the tide.”