Seahawks vs. Redskins: Final Game Grades and Report Card for Washington
Nothing was really the same for the Redskins after quarterback Robert Griffin III re-injured his knee in the first quarter. However, the Seahawks deserve credit for settling in, battling back from 14 points down and holding the Redskins scoreless in the second half.
The Seahawks will head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons and continue their hot run into the playoffs.
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Remember about eight weeks ago when none of this seemed possible?
The Washington Redskins were a dismal 3-6, they were entering their bye week after a horrid showing against the Carolina Panthers and the defense showed no signs of life. Most of us were chalking it up as a learning, yet losing, experience for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Seven straight wins to close out the season and the NFC East division champion Redskins will host the NFC Wild Card Seattle Seahawks Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland as part of the first round of the playoffs. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. EST.
This will be the first home playoff game for the Redskins of the century, and they'll seek revenge after falling to Seattle in the first round of their last two playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007.
Follow along as we bring you live game grades and analysis throughout the afternoon. Be sure to stop by following the game for a complete Redskins report card.
Robert Griffin III – C
Today’s grade isn’t exactly fair, considering Robert Griffin III re-injured his knee in the first quarter and was never really the same following it.
To start the game, Griffin was accurate, moved well in the pocket and showed command on two powerful drives down the field that resulted in touchdowns to Evan Royster (1) and Logan Paulsen (2).
Following the injury, and because coaches decided to keep him in the game, Griffin’s performance suffered. His early accuracy went out the window, his ability to scramble became obsolete ( easily noted during scramble in 3Q ) and he never felt comfortable.
Griffin finished his playoff debut with 84 yards on 10-of-19 passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
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FOURTH QUARTER – D
This grade doesn’t necessarily come by way of the performance of either quarterback, but more from the fact that neither Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins had any chance to show anything.
Griffin went down late in the quarter after attempting to chase a low and ugly snap. Watching him fall to the ground after a vicious knee twist was sickening.
Kirk Cousins came into the game trailing ten and was able to complete a couple passes under immense pressure. He was also operating from a collapsing and violent pocket in each of his six drop backs.
THIRD QUARTER – C+
Trust me, I hate giving the savior any form of bad grade, but Griffin's placement and decision making hasn’t been the same since tweaking his knee ( or so we think ) in the first quarter.
After receiving a gift from the defense via a goal line fumble, the Redskins were able to make some space and even convert a third down. But on the drive’s second third down, Griffin completely missed on a wide-open Joshua Morgan on a crossing pattern to the left.
That said, I don’t doubt RG3 to close this game.
SECOND QUARTER – B
The “tweak” that Griffin suffered in the first quarter showed itself in the second quarter. Griffin didn’t receive any run plays, he looked shaky when moving in the pocket and he didn’t appear comfortable when attempting to plant and fire.
Griffin did have his knee checked out on the sidelines and he didn’t miss any time, but all eyes are certainly on the rookie’s stability moving forward.
On a play with about four minutes to go in the half, Griffin held onto the ball just a bit too long and was baited well by Seattle safety Earl Thomas. Although Pierre Garcon appeared to have Brandon Browner beat, Thomas played center field very well and was able to come up with the interception. Not a great decision by RG3.
For the half, Griffin has 68 yards on 6-of-11 passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
FIRST QUARTER – A
The Redskins’ opening drive hopefully sets the tone for this game moving forward. Success on the ground helped Robert Griffin III and his passing game, as he was able to get time and throw from good pockets.
Also, an important note, Griffin looks very accurate to start the game. As we’ve seen in past weeks, we can usually guess the rookie’s accuracy/placement for the remainder of the game by observing his opening drive.
Late in the quarter, during the Redskins’ second scoring drive, Griffin was pressured to the right and fell off his back foot. He would get up ailing, what appeared to be, his knee. No word yet, but I don’t like it.
For the quarter, Griffin threw for 68 yards on 6-of-9 passing and two touchdowns.
No need to hold out hope. Head coach Mike Shanahan announced during a presser last week that Robert Griffin III will continue to wear a knee brace Sunday.
He didn't, however, mention if it would be the same lumpy brace we're used to. Over the past two weeks, Griffin has worn a bulky brace on his knee that is known to be restrictive. Perhaps Griffin comes out with something more flexible?
Regardless, it's foolish to think that Griffin won't be a dynamic player if he's still wearing the brace. Although he may not be 100 percent as a runner, Griffin still has an effective arm, he can still move when he needs to and he protects the football.
In Sunday's game, Griffin will face one of the toughest pairs of cornerbacks in the league in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. For guys that are physical with opposing receivers and can disrupt timing routes, Griffin will need to make quick decisions and remain accurate.
Not only is this the biggest game of the rookie's young career, but I also believe it to be his toughest. Aside from the pressure and spotlight that naturally comes with a playoff game, the Seahawks defense can rush the passer with multiple looks and their secondary can make you pay.
Alfred Morris – A
Credit to rookie Alfred Morris for starting the game strong, quieting down in the second quarter and then coming back in the second half looking more like first half Alf. Throughout the game, Morris never stopped running with power and exploding through holes, but the Seattle defense did settle in better after the first quarter.
Morris finished his playoff debut with 80 yards on 16 carries and no scores.
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FOURTH QUARTER – C
Before Robert Griffin III went down, the Redskins offensive line was still holding tough. Following the injury, however, they seemed to get porous.
Center Will Montgomery struggled all game with terrible snaps and one of them resulted in an injured Robert Griffin III in this quarter.
With Griffin operating on about 1.5 legs, it’s hard to gauge the Redskins offense as a whole, simply because it all runs through him. Even if he’s not running, Griffin is a dynamic passer. Given his injury, though, the offense wasn’t able to get anything going or close out.
THIRD QUARTER – B
Good to see Alfred Morris chugging again after a rather quiet second quarter. Through three quarters, Morris has 72 yards on 14 carries.
How did Morris find his gear again? The Redskins offensive line came out in the second half with great punch and rookie left guard Josh LeRibeus is really showing out in his playoff debut.
Twice in this quarter, the Redskins offense was forced to operate from the shadows of their own goal posts. With an uneasy RG3 in the pocket, the offense struggled to get any real production.
SECOND QUARTER – B
Not nearly as explosive in the second quarter, the Redskins were unable to put up any points in the second quarter. Although the offensive line is still getting off the line of scrimmage, the Seattle defense has decided to wake up and the Redskins running game has suffered.
The interception down field was obviously a downer—both for the offense and team momentum. Luckily, the Redskins defense came through for the offense and held Seattle to just a field goal.
FIRST QUARTER – A
Aside from the 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game, the Redskins offensive line looks awesome. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger did start the game, but has since left with an injury. Rookie Josh LeRibeus has filled in very well, showing athleticism and strength.
Speaking of blocking, tight end Logan Paulsen is getting it done in the run and in pass protection. Paulsen is firing off and really manhandling his opposition. To cap things, Paulsen hauled in a touchdown pass from four yards out with just under three minutes to go in the quarter to give the Redskins an early 14-point lead.
Running back Alfred Morris is off to a great start thanks in large part to superb blocking up front. In the quarter, Morris has 49 yards on eight carries, including a beautiful 18-yard rip.
Leading up to Sunday, we've heard a lot about the Seahawks defense. And for good reason.
But that doesn't mean they're bulletproof.
Sure, the Seahawks lead the league in points allowed per game, and their corners make it extremely difficult for opposing quarterbacks and receivers, but the Redskins can run the football against them.
On the season, the Seahawks have allowed rushing totals of 175 to San Francisco, 243 to Minnesota, 189 to Miami, 132 to Chicago and 118 to Buffalo. As the league's top rushing offense, no one should doubt the Redskins' potential on the ground against this Seattle defense.
One note for the Redskins offense is that left guard Kory Lichtensteiger likely won't be able to go. Although he's considered a game-time decision, it looks like rookie Josh LeRibeus, who played well in the second half against Dallas last week, will get the nod. Follow me on Twitter ( @BetBigDC ) for the latest on 'Steiger.
My hunch for the game is that receiver Aldrick Robinson gets loose behind the Seattle secondary at least once. The Seahawks will key-in on starting speedster Pierre Garcon, but Robinson has the wheels to take advantage of Seattle's gambling safeties and haul in a deep ball from RG3.
Pierre Garcon – B+
Showing well to start the game, Pierre Garcon’s production seemed to fall with his quarterback’s.
For the game, Garcon was able to haul in four catches for 50 yards on six targets. His speed still played a role in the Redskins offense today, but he didn’t receive nearly enough shots to be a real factor.
Leonard Hankerson – C
It may have just been me, but Leonard Hankerson wasn’t anywhere near as effective as he usually is blocking on the outside. And although the game was essentially lost by the time Hankerson got legitimate looks, he dropped passes.
One pass to note was a target Hank received early in the fourth quarter on third down. Despite not being a perfect pass, it was one that hit Hank in the hands and should’ve been caught.
Hankerson finished with 27 yards on two catches (five targets).
Logan Paulsen – A
Logan Paulsen started off with powerful and impressive blocking, especially noted in the 1Q when he helped to spring his quarterback for a first down on the outside left.
Then, when the Redskins entered the redzone for the second time in the first quarter, Paulsen came up with a huge third down catch at the 4:04 mark and later hauled in the four-yard touchdown pass to give the Redskins a 14-0 lead.
Santana Moss – A
Coming through in a couple big spots like a true veteran receiver, Santana Moss picked up a crucial 3rd-and-3 in the first quarter, beating Marcus Turfant out of the slot.
Later, with the Redskins offense backed against their own endzone, Moss came up with a big catch on 3rd-and-5 to extend the drive—albeit not much further.
Trent Williams – A
Serving as the team’s enforcer, Redskins fans probably appreciate Trent Williams’ attitude on the field today. In addition to that, Williams hung tough protecting his quarterback’s blindside and he was fast getting down the field in the ground game.
Josh LeRibeus – A
Subbing for injured starter Kory Lichtensteiger ( started, but left ), rookie Josh LeRibeus showed impressive strength and athleticism all game. On the Redskins’ first touchdown, LeRibeus was able to turn his defender to the ground and give his quarterback plenty of time to throw the score.
Chris Chester – B+
Other than the second half tackle for a loss that he allowed, Chris Chester had a good game. And in his defense, Chester had Allen Branch blocked pretty well until the Seattle lineman’s leg coincidentally flailed just right to trip up the ball carrier.
In the second quarter, Chester was a lucky charm with his heads-up fumble recovery (RG3)
Tyler Polumbus – B
Usually critical of him and his play on the right side, Tyler Polumbus got off the line quick in today’s game and powered down field. For the first time in a while, Polumbus seemed effective in both the run game and pass protection.
Will Montgomery – D
After playing so well all season, center Will Montgomery struggled all game and had at least three low snaps, two of which resulted in fumbles ( my count ) and one that resulted in RG3’s injury. Terrible performance in the big game.
Jarvis Jenkins – B-
Mostly quiet for Jarvis Jenkins today. His fumble recovery on the goal line in the third quarter was huge. His inconsistency was present, however, later in the quarter when he was completely lost on a Russell Wilson scramble that resulted in a huge gain.
Barry Cofield – A
Considering he accounted for the defense’s only turnover today, Barry Cofield deserves a high mark for yet another game. Along with defensive end Stephen Bowen, Cofield is an unsung hero for this Redskins team.
Cofield’s forced fumble on Marshawn Lynch in the third quarter on 2nd-and-Goal from about one yard out was more than impressive. Cofield was able to power and fight through the line and get his entire helmet on the football, ultimately halting a would-be Seahawks touchdown.
Stephen Bowen – B
Solid against the run, sealed the edge and also got good pressure on Russell Wilson, Stephen Bowen turned out another quality game as one of the unsung top dogs of this Redskins team.
Ryan Kerrigan – C
The Redskins needed more disruption out of Ryan Kerrigan today. Although he was able to get up and into the pocket early in the game, Kerrigan never got a lock on opposing quarterback Russell Wilson.
During the second quarter, on an option-read, Wilson beat Kerrigan bad with inside play action.
London Fletcher – B
Decent game out of London Fletcher, but nothing spectacular. He was sealed a few times in the run, but was still effective in getting his nose on a ball.
Fletcher finished the game with five solo tackles, a half sack with Stephen Bowen and a pass breakup.
Perry Riley – A
Playing tough against the run and plugging holes, Perry Riley had a good outing today in his playoff debut. Riley also had good pursuit of the quarterback when sent.
Riley finished the game with seven tackles and a sack.
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FOURTH QUARTER – C+
The Redskins defense isn’t bulletproof, and they operate with the help of their offense—one of the highest scoring in the league. But on a day when the Redskins aren’t able to get anything going offensively, the defense is going to look worse than advertised.
Although not all their fault, allowing 11 points in the final quarter isn’t a good recipe to close the game.
THIRD QUARTER – A
Although no one liked to see the Seahawks offense find their groove and move the ball, the Redskins defense came up with their—dare I say typical?—major takeaway when they forced a Marshawn Lynch fumble on the goal line.
Unfortunately, the Redskins offense wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnover and the defense has really been asked to weather a lot of this game.
Russell Wilson and his running ability appear to be more and more threatening as the game progresses. The Seattle quarterback found room in the third quarter and made the Redskins pay.
Still, the Redskins defense deserves a ton of credit for clamping onto the one-point lead and holding the Seahawks scoreless in the third.
SECOND QUARTER – B-
Marshawn Lynch started to get it going in the second quarter. Despite his less than 50 yards in the half, Lynch is running hard and the Seahawks offense is putting themselves in manageable down and distances.
In pass coverage, the Seahawks have been able to find soft spots in the Redskins coverage and that’s why you see Russell Wilson drop back with more confidence and better delivery.
For the half, Wilson has 123 yards on 9-of-14 passing and one touchdown.
The Redskins nearly had a fumble recovery after Russell Wilson bobbled a play action handoff, but Madieu Williams couldn’t quite bring it in and Marshawn Lynch was able to turn it into positive yards.
The Seahawks touchdown in this quarter came from four yards out when Reed Doughty came on a blitz, missed at Michael Robinson’s knees, and the Seattle fullback was able to leak out and haul in Russell Wilson’s touch pass to bring the Seahawks within four.
FIRST QUARTER – A
The Redskins defensive line is winning the battle up front, already bringing Russell Wilson down twice and not even showing heavy blitz. This is great news for a Redskins defense that needs all the help they can get in coverage.
Overall, the Seahawks have just nine total yards and one touchdown.
While this is great news for the Redskins to start the game, it’s important they don’t show any signs of letting up. Just like any other team, the Seahawks are settling in and searching for their groove. If the Redskins allow it, the Seahawks will find it.
Just as the Seahawks haven't played an offense quite like the Redskins, this Redskins defense hasn't played an offense quite like the Seahawks.
Despite running similar offense in terms of option-read and zone-blocking, each team only has the advantage of practicing against the scheme (themselves) in preparation for Sunday's live action.
Also like the Redskins, the Seahawks look to pound the ball on the ground with Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch, who has more than lived up to his Beast Mode reputation.
Although Russell Wilson can find receivers and threatens as a passer, the Redskins need to force Seattle to throw, containing the rushing game from both the running back and quarterback position.
Easier said than done. This one could turn into a shootout.
Reed Doughty – A
Reed Doughty turned in his second solid performance in a row, unfortunately this time in a losing effort.
Doughty came up big on a 1st-and-Goal in the first quarter and brough down the opposition shy of the goal line. He also demonstrated good tackling and pop in run support throughout the game.
Late in the third quarter, Doughty showed great pursuit of the quarterback, eventually tracking him down and chalking up the sack.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Doughty made a brilliant read on a Russell Wilson option run, keeping his feet and bringing Wilson down for his second sack of the game.
Doughty finished the game with seven tackles and two sacks.
DeAngelo Hall – B
Some will criticize DeAngelo Hall in this game, but I don’t blame most of the soft coverage on him. For the most part, I thought Hall covered well. He didn’t, however, tackle as well as we’re used to.
On Marshawn Lynch’s go-ahead touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Hall whiffed badly and helped the running back spring for 27 yards. That would ultimately be the nail in the Redskins’ coffin.
Josh Wilson – B-
Like DeAngelo Hall, I thought Josh Wilson had decent coverage today. More impressive, though, was his blitz and eventual sack. We don’t typically see that in the boxscore.
Sav Rocca -- A
Good punts from the steel-footed Australian today. Given that the Redskins didn't seem to see daylight the entire second half, Rocca's huge punts were help towards making failed third downs less painful.
Richard Crawford -- B+
Only two punt return opportunities today for the rookie Richard Crawford. On his first, Crawford kept his eyes up field and kept his legs churning, gaining all 12 of his return yards on that attempt.
Kickoff Coverage -- B
Not ideal, but given Seattle has one of the game's best in Leon Washington returning kicks, I thought the Redskins special teams unit did a pretty decent job.
Niles Paul -- B
With five kickoff returns, Niles Paul turned in 97 yards, with his long being a 22-yarder.
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FOURTH QUARTER – B-
Want a Redskins highlight for the final quarter? Look no further than punter Sav Rocca. His one punt, which was a good one, was about all the Redskins could muster in the final 15 minutes.
Niles Paul, although clearly trying to make something happen, didn’t do anything with his kickoff returns.
THIRD QUARTER – A
Good coverage on punt and kick returns, as well as booming punts from Sav Rocca.
Seeing as how the Redskins offense started twice deep in their own zone, the failed third down conversions were made slightly less painful by way of Rocca’s huge boot.
SECOND QUARTER – A
The grass here at FedEx Field has to be one of the worst surfaces of any stadium in the NFL.
Scratch that. One of the worst in football, college or pro.
With such horrid playing surfaces, kickoffs in this game have been awkward squib-like dealings. For the Redskins, making things different for Seattle return man Leon Washington is always a good thing.
FIRST QUARTER – A
Richard Crawford had a decent 12-yard punt return in the first quarter, continuing to show his desire to get up field by keeping his eyes forward and his feet moving.
A new look for the Redskins, Kai Forbath squibbed a kickoff to the Seahawks. No word of whether or not that will continue, but Seattle return man Leon Washington is one of the most dangerous in the league.
After missing his first field goal of the season last week, Kai Forbath has shaken any and all pressure for the year as he makes his playoff debut today.
Or at least that's what I'm going with.
In this game, the Redskins can't afford missed scoring opportunities, whether they be touchdowns or field goals. Unlike games in recent weeks, Seattle's balance of solid defense and efficient offense is too much and too threatening for the Redskins not to capitalize.
A few weeks ago against Baltimore, rookie return man Richard Crawford came up big in the bright lights of overtime with a huge punt return to help set up the game-winning (Forbath) field goal.
Knowing that Crawford can do it in a pressure situation, coming through with a huge return in a game like Sunday's would pay dividends.
Mike Shanahan -- D
After the injury to Robert Griffin III, I would've thought head coach Mike Shanahan would take into consideration the fact that his quarterback play was clearly suffering by way of an knee injury to his starter and that backup quarterback Kirk Cousins was warm on the sidelines with an entire road win under his belt.
I'm not one to judge. I'm not a doctor. I'm a supporter of Mike Shanahan and his regime in Washington. His decision to stick with an injured RG3, however, is a move I don't agree with.
Kyle Shanahan -- C+
Like some of the Redskins players, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's grade suffers a bit because of the injury to his quarterback and the non-existent passing game.
I though Shanahan was aggressive enough in the first half, and I loved his idea of pounding the ball with Alfred Morris. I didn't like all of his play calls in the second half with the offense's back against the goal line.
Again, I believe Kyle felt limited given the situation.
Jim Haslett -- B
Benefiting a lot from impressive individual performances from his starters, Jim Haslett was able to remain aggressive and get pressure on the quarterback. In the second half, however, Haslett's soft coverage calls seemingly gave Russell Wilson a groove.
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FOURTH QUARTER – D
With the way Robert Griffin III was limping, wincing and showing obvious signs of pain, I don’t think there’s any excuse for Mike Shanahan’s decision to leave him in the game.
For starters, Griffin is a player that’s here for at least the next decade, why risk such damage in his first playoff run?
And second, it’s not as if Griffin was stifled by the Seahawks defense. His knee was an obvious hamper and backup Kirk Cousins could’ve easily came in and done better much earlier.
THIRD QUARTER – B
Jim Haslett hasn’t appeared to lose his aggressiveness on defense, but Kyle Shanahan’s play calling deep in the Redskins’ own territory was a little shaky, in my opinion.
I understand that Robert Griffin III is limited as a runner and a thrower, but quick passing routes are best in back-against-the-wall scenarios and Griffin took a costly sack near his own goal line because of long developing routes.
SECOND QUARTER -- B-
Jim Haslett’s soft coverage near the end of the quarter wasn’t fun to watch. Seattle’s option-read is really opening up passing lanes and I’d rather see the Redskins corner play physical off the line.
Kyle Shanahan’s calls didn’t decrease in value. The Seahawks defense just settled into the game. I wouldn’t doubt some aggressive play calls to open up the second half.
FIRST QUARTER – A
Give it up for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to start the game, he’s keeping the Seattle defense guessing and he’s getting quiet players (Evan Royster and Logan Paulsen) involved in the redzone offense.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett deserves credit too, but he’s getting great individual performances from his players early on. Even if the Redskins did come out with a sketchy game plan (which they didn't), Haslett’s defensive line is getting it done.
After the turnaround we've seen from the Redskins defense following the bye week, it'll be very interesting to see what defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has in store for this Seahawks offense.
How will Haslett scheme against an offense so similar to the one he sees in practice?
On offense, I think it's important for Kyle Shanahan to come out with a wide-open playbook. Even with an intimidating Seattle defense, Shanahan has demonstrated the ability to outcoach his opposition this season.
Expect an established ground game and shots downfield via speedsters Pierre Garcon, Aldrick Robinson and...Santana Moss. My hunches, of course.