Monday, January 7, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. — Quarterback Russell Wilson reached the end zone first, his block opening the path Marshawn Lynch followed to the winning touchdown.
That description of that decisive play served as a summary for the game Sunday, the rookie quarterback out in front where he has spent so much of this season, with the running back chugging along behind to provide the necessary oomph.
Wilson and Lynch. The combination produced the Seahawks’ winning touchdown with 7:08 left. Wilson and Lynch. It was the combination punch that allowed Seattle to overcome its largest deficit of the season to win the franchise’s first road playoff game in 29 years.
Seattle 24, Washington 14.
“A great finish,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
And it’s just the beginning. Seattle continues its playoff run in Atlanta next Sunday in the NFC’s divisional playoffs.
And while the rest of the country will be talking about the knee injury of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, in Seattle the focus will be on how Carroll’s Seahawks stared down a 14-0 deficit after the first quarter and didn’t blink as they scored 24 consecutive points. On the road. In the playoffs.
“In this setting, with the crowd and as much momentum as they had, it’s a marvelous statement,” Carroll said.
A statement that deserved an exclamation mark, especially when you consider Seattle’s opening period had been punctuated with a question mark: What was that?
Seattle allowed an opponent to score a touchdown on its first drive for only the fourth time this year, Washington driving 80 yards and scoring on its only third down of the drive when Griffin threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Evan Royster.
Then Washington went and became the first Seattle opponent all year to score on each of its first two possessions, driving 54 yards as Griffin threw another 4-yard touchdown pass. Washington led 14-0 with 2:26 left in the opening period and Lynch had yet to carry the ball.
It was the largest deficit the Seahawks faced all season. They trailed by 10 points early in the third quarter of the season-opener at Arizona and were down 13 points with nine minutes remaining in its Week 6 game against New England.
“We were getting our butt kicked,” Carroll said. “There’s no doubt about it, and then we weren’t.”
It happened that suddenly. The fact that Griffin appeared to reinjure his right knee late in the second drive certainly compromised Washington’s offense, but that had nothing to do with the fact Seattle scored on its next three possessions.
Griffin’s health might have explained why he was 4-for-10 passing in the final three quarters, but it had nothing to do with the fact Seattle rushed for 224 yards against a Washington defense that was ranked No. 5 against the run in the regular season and hadn’t allowed any opponent to rush for more than 186 yards in the regular season.
Wilson and Lynch. It was the formula Seattle followed to victory in a comeback that was methodical, but at times frustrating.
Seattle outgained Washington 271-38 in the second and third quarters, scoring its first touchdown on Wilson’s 4-yard pass to fullback Michael Robinson in the second quarter to trail 14-10. They cut the deficit to 14-13 when Steven Hauschka kicked a field goal on the final play of the first half.
The Seahawks spent a large part of the third quarter shooting themselves in the foot, Lynch fumbling away a potential touchdown when he coughed up the ball at the Washington 2 and Wilson overthrowing a wide-open Doug Baldwin.
There was no question about Seattle’s finishing touch, though. Not with Lynch carrying the load while Wilson converted critical third downs.
And 29 years after Seattle won its first — and only — road playoff game, Wilson carried out his play-fake after handing the ball off to Lynch and wound up leading the way to the score that put Seattle over the top.