Final Score: Seattle 24, Washington 14
The Seattle Seahawks had an early battle brewing with the Washington Redskins. Early on it appeared this game could go the way of the first three Wild Card games, as the home team won each of them in somewhat boring fashion.
But there was a reason why the Seahawks led the league in scoring defense, as they completely shut down the Redskins' offense over the final three quarters. The officials allowed a fair amount of contact in passing routes, a decision that favored Seattle's nature of play.
Seattle's offense wasted several opportunities before taking control of the game in the fourth quarter. Marshawn Lynch made up for a lost fumble and Russell Wilson did just enough to get the team over the top.
The Redskins have made the playoffs three times since the Seahawks returned to the NFC. Seattle has ended Washington's season each of those years.
Seattle will face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET for a spot in the NFC Championship game.
Final Grade: B
Russell Wilson had a very good game, doing just enough to ensure the Seahawks advanced. He made a few mistakes that could have been costly if not for the stellar play of the defense.
He balanced missing a few open receivers with several key throws, including throwing a block to help Lynch score in the fourth quarter. His post-game press conference, televised on NFL Network, included a discussion on how Lynch always tells Wilson he has his back. Wilson said this was his opportunity to have his runner's back.
Wilson found success without finding his wide receivers often on Sunday. He had open targets but had trouble getting them the ball.
The Redskins brought a good pass rush, repeatedly flushing Wilson from the pocket. He normally is able to lock onto receivers while scrambling but was not able to do so on Sunday.
He turned some of those pressures into nice gains with his legs. His longest run on the game was a play where he didn't see a wide open target in the end zone.
There is little doubt that Wilson is already working on studying the Atlanta Falcons and their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.
Final Statistics: 15-of-26, 187 YDS, 1 TD, 92.9 QBR, 8 carries, 67 YDS
4th Quarter: B+
Every day I’m Russellin’! Fans were accustomed to DangeRuss making plays with his arm and legs. The last few weeks, though, he’s been making them with his hands.
While not a thing of beauty, Russell Wilson hustled down the field to lay a two-hand-touch-level block on Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run. It was likely the difference in a touchdown and being brought down just short of the goal-line.
Wilson was able to make plays when needed in the fourth quarter. He found Zach Miller while under a heavy pass-rush to keep a drive alive.
The two connected again to convert the two-point try.
3rd Quarter: B-
As much as there is to like with Wilson’s 26-yard run, it was somewhat uncharacteristic. He normally has his eyes downfield until he reaches the line of scrimmage, but he somehow didn’t see a wide-open Sidney Rice for what would have been an easy touchdown toss.
Two plays later Doug Baldwin was open near the goal-line but Wilson overthrew him. He took a sack on the following play, nullifying the entire drive as the team moved outside field-goal range.
Wilson is doing a lot right, but come playoffs it is the little things that can turn a win into a loss. Those little things drove down his grade for this quarter.
2nd Quarter: B+
If there were any that doubted Wilson’s ability to rally and perform in his first NFL playoff game their concerns have been quieted. He led three impressive drives in the second quarter to keep the Seahawks competitive.
The biggest concern with Wilson at this point is he seems to have spent a bit too much time watching Griffin. Instead of getting down as he normally does, Wilson has been fighting for extra yards on a few runs.
He has taken a few big hits, but he can’t risk an injury.
Perhaps the most telling sign of Wilson’s maturity is the adjustment made at the end of the half. He was able to quickly adjust the play at the line of scrimmage and get the ball snapped just before the play clock expired.
The inability to convert at the goal line doesn't fall squarely on Wilson's shoulders, but he is the one that needs to make the plays. The failure to score touchdowns drives this score.
Halftime Stats: 9-of-14, 124 YDS, 1 TD, 116.1 QBR, 4 Carries, 35 YDS
1st Quarter: C+
As expected, Wilson looked to pass early and tested the Redskins’ secondary with a deep pass to open the game. The throw was off target, though.
He had to rely on his legs when blocking collapsed but wasn’t able to escape the Redskins’ pass rush.
Wilson hasn't had much time to work the offense. Look for the team to move the ball and stay in the game.
Russell Wilson won't likely be the key to this game for Seattle. He'll be asked to make a few plays, but the Seahawks will look to win the game with defense and a strong ground game.
But don't be surprised to see Darrell Bevell start the game with a heavy dose of No. 3.
The Redskins will be expecting Beast Mode early and often and figure to open the game prepared to stop the run. What better time for the Seahawks to reach into their offense and let Wilson open the field with his arm?
The St. Louis Rams were effective with pressuring and sacking Wilson last week, particularly when Seattle was facing passing downs. Throwing early should help mitigate what could be a very strong push from the Redskins.
Final Grade: A
Lynch was the key to Seattle's win, at least offensively. He created running lanes and showed resiliency following a fumble in the third quarter that cost the team an opportunity to take the lead.
Lynch also showed great awareness when he picked up a Wilson fumble in the second quarter. He turned what could have been a turnover into a solid gain for a first down.
The focus for Seattle's Pro Bowl back will turn to the Falcons, a team that struggles to stop the run. He figures to have an even bigger impact in the divisional round.
Final Stats: 20 CAR, 132 YDS, 6.6 YPC, 1 TD, 1 REC, 9 YDS
4th Quarter: A
After costing his team the lead in the third quarter there was no doubt that Lynch was going to do whatever it took to find redemption.
Enter Beast Mode and a 27-yard touchdown run to give Seattle its first lead of the game.
Lynch was instrumental in moving the chains to keep the go-ahead drive alive. As speculated earlier, Lynch ended up being the key player in Seattle earning the road win.
He yielded the floor late in the game to give Robert Turbin some playoff carries.
3rd Quarter: D
Seattle can’t afford to make mistakes on the road and coughing up the ball on your opponents’ goal-line is about as big a mistake as a team can make.
One bad play can nullify an entire half of positives. In this case, it kills his grade for the quarter.
Marshawn Lynch became a bigger part of the offense in the second quarter. Perhaps that should state he became part of the offense...
The Beast hasn't been completely unleashed, but Seattle's Pro Bowl running back pitched in with several nice runs to move the chains and was active in the passing game.
The most impressive play was certainly scooping up a loose ball and turning what could have been a disaster into a nice gain and a first-down.
Seattle is finding a nice balance with the offense and should be able to continue to move the ball. Lynch still figures to play a vital role in this game.
Halftime Stats: 8 Carries, 33 YDS, 4.1 YPC, 1 REC, 9 YDS
1st Quarter: Incomplete
Lynch has only had a pair of runs thus far. He hasn't had room to make much happen.
One could argue that there wasn't a man in the NFL that had as good a season as Marshawn Lynch had in 2012. Granted, that would also mean accepting that Adrian Peterson is too good and healed too fast to be considered human.
Lynch came up just short of 1,800 yards from scrimmage with 12 total touchdowns. He delivered whether getting hit in the backfield or exploding through an open lane. Seattle has leaned on him often and will eventually do the same on Sunday.
The Seahawks will need a big game from their powerhouse if they want to break their playoff road losing streak.
Sidney Rice: B-
It is difficult to pin all the blame on Rice's quiet day on the receiver. There were numerous plays where he was open but Wilson was under duress and unable to get him the ball.
Rice did have one drop on the game. It was an insignificant play, but every catch counts in the playoffs.
One of Wilson's best runs on the day came at the expense of a potential Rice touchdown. Wilson was pressured and tucked the ball to run.
Normally he would continue to look for a receiver after evading pressure. Had he done so on this play he would have likely seen Rice had worked beyond the secondary and was racing towards the end zone without a defender near him.
Final Stats: 1 Rec, 4 Targets, 27 YDS
Golden Tate: A-
Tate led the wide receivers in receptions. He showed great body control with one of his receptions and helped keep the offense moving.
Final Stats: 4 Rec, 5 TRG, 35 YDS
Doug Baldwin: A-
Similar to Rice, Baldwin shouldn't be penalized for Wilson's inability to get the ball to open receivers. Baldwin was close to having a touchdown reception, but Wilson's ball was a bit long.
To be fair, though, Baldwin was hit as he was going into his cut, slowing his progression. If not for the contact the two would have likely connected on the third-quarter drive.
Final Stats: 2 Rec, 5 TRG, 39 YDS
Zach Miller: A
One of the key plays on the game was a third-down effort from Miller. Needed to move the chains to keep an eventual scoring drive alive, Miller stayed near the line of scrimmage as a pass-blocker.
He escaped from the line when Wilson was under heavy pressure and Seattle's rookie quarterback found him for a key first down conversion.
Final Stats: 4 Rec, 6 TRG, 48 YDS
This is about all the involvement Sidney Rice had against St. Louis. He was targeted just once with no receptions. Seattle needs him to step up this weekend.
4th Quarter: A-
All’s well that ends well, and that is exactly the mantra the offense will claim from this outing. They squandered a few opportunities early but played a solid fourth quarter to secure the win.
Seattle’s wide receivers weren’t as active in the game as one might have expected, but the running backs and Zach Miller filled in nicely.
3rd Quarter: C-
Seattle was able to move the ball effectively in the quarter but were not able to put points on the board. They had the opportunity to turn up the pressure on the Redskins but they failed in two drives that should have resulted in 14 points.
Seattle needs to capitalize on opportunities in the fourth quarter or they will have a long offseason to consider what could have been.
2nd Quarter: B+
It has been a tale of two quarters in this game. After a sluggish start, Seattle has gotten the receivers involved and launched Beast Mode. Seattle grabbed the edge in first downs, yards and time of possession.
The scoreboard is what really matters, though, and Seattle still trails.
One of the most important aspects of the offense clicking is it gave the defense a needed break between quarters to catch their breath and make a few adjustments.
Then again, putting points on the board shouldn’t be overlooked. The Seahawks receive the kick to start the second half and need to get the ball into the end zone, not just through the uprights.
1st Quarter: D+
Zach Miller was pretty much the show for the Seahawks’ offense. The line has been missing blocks, leading to a pair of sacks and two more hits on Russell Wilson.
They haven't had many opportunities yet but the blocking issues could haunt Wilson and Lynch.
The team needs to get Sidney Rice and Golden Tate involved in the offense. They also need to sustain their current drive and give their defense a needed rest.
Seattle has had a few miscues, such as dropped passes by Sidney Rice and Anthony McCoy. They need to clean this up in the second half.
Seattle will be looking for its thin receiver group and its offensive line to support its efforts with the ball. Injuries have left them with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin as the primary outside threats, with Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy looking to contribute from the tight end locations.
The offense has struggled with unnecessary penalties this season, and the play at the guard positions has left a bit to be desired at times.
Early in the season there was some harsh criticism of Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung. Both had some problems with false starts and Seattle's right tackle was a marked man relative to personal foul penalties.
Both have worked on their issues, though, and Okung was rewarded with a starting spot on the Pro Bowl roster. Giacomini has also delivered a strong season.
Seattle would benefit from better play from J.R. Sweezy against the Redskins. His transition from a collegiate defensive tackle to a blocker in the NFL has been nothing short of amazing, but he's still struggling with picking up stunts and blitzes. The Redskins excel in this area and Wilson will need Sweezy to make solid reads and pick up his man.
Bruce Irvin completes a sack of Robert Griffin III
Chris Clemons: B+
While not an impressive day stat-wise, Clemons made his presence known. He had a sack and forced fumble nullified by a penalty and ended up with just two tackles on his stat line.
The big concern is Clemons' health, as the terrible turf on FedEx Field may have contributed to a knee injury. There are several reports detailing a potential ACL injury.
Seahawks concerned Chris Clemons may have ACL injury wp.me/p14QSB-6SEH— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 7, 2013
Bruce Irvin: B
The Seahawks could end up leaning quite heavily on Irvin for the balance of their playoff run. He had some high points, such as his sack of RGIII, but he also got caught trying to cover both Alfred Morris and Griffin on an option play.
He will get a lot more reps this next week to prepare for the Falcons. Seattle needs him to respond.
Brandon Mebane: A-
As is usually the case, Mebane doesn't make a huge impression during the course of the game. However, he quietly leads NFC defensive tackles in tackles and contributed four on the game.
The stout lineman also helped provide a pass rush and was an imposing figure on a pair of potential scrambles for Griffin.
Alan Branch: A
The absence of Jason Jones led to expanded duty for Branch. He made the most of it, leading the linemen in tackles with five. He also had a sack and helped keep the middle of the line plugged.
Red Bryant: B-
With just two tackles, it was clear that Bryant was a bit over-matched by the speed of Morris and Griffin. He was solid, but not the spectacular Red that Seahawks fans expect to see.
Leroy Hill: B
Seattle struggled with stopping the run in the first quarter. The linebackers in general, and Hill specifically, didn't seem to be filling the expected gaps.
The coaches made adjustments and the turnaround was significant. Hill tallied three tackles and helped shut down the Redskins' ground game.
K.J. Wright: A
Be it in pass protection or stuffing the run, Wright came up big for the Seahawks on Sunday. He had eight tackles and a pass defensed when he knocked a receiver out of the field of play before he could get his feet in bounds.
Bobby Wagner: A
The amazing rookie season continues for Wagner, as he led the team with nine tackles, one of which was for loss.
Wagner provided solid coverage in the passing game and rallied from issues stopping Morris in the opening quarter.
Earl Thomas: A
Just another day at the office for Seattle's Pro Bowl free safety. Thomas helped shut down pass routes and baited Griffin into a deep pass attempt to Pierre Garcon.
Thomas closed on the pass and intercepted the pass. He added four solo tackles on the game.
Richard Sherman: A
Looking at the stat line it is hard to prove Sherman even played. There are no tackles, no interceptions, no passes defensed...nothing.
That is also what he allowed to Redskin receivers on the day. He took one side of the field away from Griffin, leaving him looking to the other side of the field to complete passes.
Cam Chancellor: A-
Chancellor had a solid, yet quiet day. He did lose track of a running back in a pass route, though, leading to an Evan Royster touchdown.
Seattle's strong safety ended up with five tackles and helped limit the production of Logan Paulsen.
Brandon Browner: B+
It wasn't clear if Browner was attempting to cover Garcon or engage him in a street fight. It ended up being a bit of both and the physical play did more to take Garcon's head out of the game than Browner's rusty cover skills.
Garcon forced an illegal contact penalty on Browner with the corner wasn't able to adjust to a go route. The penalty nullified a sack and forced fumble.
Browner was able to help limit Garcon to 50 yards on four receptions, but he'll need to spend more time in tight coverage and less entangled with the talented Falcon receivers.
4th Quarter: A
The Seattle defense grabbed another turnover in the fourth quarter and kept the Redskins from moving the ball. Bruce Irvin filled in nicely for an injured Chris Clemons and created pressure.
The secondary played tight coverage and helped seal the win.
Quite simply, the Seahawks were dominant on defense.
3rd Quarter: A
One difference in Seattle’s 2012 defense vs. the playoff team from 2010 is depth. The loss starting linemen was disastrous that season.
Losing Chris Clemons will certainly impact Seattle’s pass rush, and won’t help their ground defense, but they have enough depth to mitigate the loss.
2nd Quarter: A
This was the defense Seahawks fans were expecting to see. They stifled the Redskins in the second quarter, forcing a fumble and getting the games’ first turnover via an Earl Thomas interception.
Brandon Browner has been disappointing in his return to the team. He’s allowed a pair of completions and committed a costly penalty that nullified a Chris Clemons sack.
He is attempting to get into Pierre Garcon’s head, though, as the two have exchanged un-pleasantries downfield on several occasions.
1st Quarter: F
The front-four haven’t been getting enough push at the line of scrimmage and support from the linebackers in run defense has been lacking. Leroy Hill had an opportunity to bring down Griffin short of a first-down, but he wasn’t able to come clear from his block to make the tackle.
Seattle has been susceptible to big days from opposing running backs and need to respond to keep the same from happening today.
The Redskin blockers have been successful getting their hands in and under the shoulder pads of the defenders. This has allowed them to grab onto the jerseys without getting flagged for holding.
The biggest concern is the lack of a rush on several of Griffin's passes.
The Seahawks defense will be at full strength on Sunday, less the presence of Jason Jones who is on injured reserve. Brandon Browner will be back on the field for the first time in a month after serving a four-game suspension, joining the rest of a talented secondary.
One intriguing aspect of this game will be how much contact the officials allow. Seattle likes to play press coverage and the defenders engage receivers early and often.
A few early flags could curtail its physical style of play and help open up the Redskins passing game.
However, if it is allowed to make and sustain contact at the line of scrimmage, as well as maintain some moderate hand-fighting in routes, RGIII could struggle to find open targets.
One thing that has been a bit lacking in recent weeks is a driving pass rush.
Seattle has kept its stunts to a minimum over the last month and has allowed quarterbacks time to throw the ball. Perhaps the Seahawks wanted to keep their playoff intentions under wraps and left their tricks in the bag to surprise teams in the playoffs.
This would be the time to roll out a few new stunts.
The Redskins have a powerful ground game and Griffin has just finished a rookie regular season that is better than that of any rookie quarterback prior to this season. His knee isn't expected to be 100 percent, though, and the Seahawks need to pressure him.
The entire Redskins team, but particularly the offense, needs to be ready for the physical play of the Seahawks.
4th Quarter: A...as in anti-climactic
There was a concern that Steven Hauschka and his injured ankle would be called upon to take the lead for the Seahawks. As it turned out, Seattle found the end zone and then attempted a two-point conversion.
Hauschka's injury became a non-factor while the rest of the special teams unit played near-flawlessly.
3rd Quarter: A
Outstanding play on punt coverage drives this grade. They've kept the Redskins deep in their own territory with timely tackles and great placement from Jon Ryan.
Hauschka should have had a pair of opportunities to kick the ball in the quarter but was let down by offensive miscues.
2nd Quarter: C
The "C" stands for "concerned." While Steven Hauschka made both of his short field goal attempts, the terrible turf of FedEx Field has claimed his ankle.
Jon Ryan was forced into kickoff duty and Hauschka won't likely be available for a long field goal attempt, if needed.
Seattle will miss him on kickoffs if tape wasn't able to address the issue at halftime. He's been effective at kicking the ball deep into the end zone and keeping return units from improving field position.
1st Quarter: C
Special teams has not had an impact in this game thus far.
Seattle has offered very good play from the third segment of the team this season. Jon Ryan is quietly one of the best punters in the NFL, offering a strong leg with an uncanny ability to pin teams deep in their own end of the field.
Steven Hauschka has been stellar at kicking the ball into the end zone and has been perfect inside 50 yards (23-for-23). Leon Washington is one of the best return men in the NFL.
Perhaps the one missing ingredient in this unit is a leg that the coaching staff trusts on field goals outside of 50 yards. Hauschka's long is 52 yards, the only successful kick in four tries from 50-plus yards.
Expect a clean game from this unit.
Final Grade: A
After a rocky start, Seattle was simply dominant in virtually every aspect of the game. They turned an early hole into a commanding victory.
Be it first downs, time of possession, yards or points, the early adjustments by the Seattle coaches changed the course of the game.
4th Quarter: A
A jubilant Coach Carroll addressed his team in the locker room following the game.
He emphatically asked four questions, with his players responding to each.
Can you win the game in the 1st quarter? (NO!)
Can you win the game in the 2nd quarter? (NO!)
Can you win the game in the 3rd quarter? (NO!)
Can you win the game in the 4th quarter? (YES!)
Pete Carroll via the Fox television broadcast
While the players won the game in the fourth quarter, they did so with adjustments the team made following the opening 15 minutes. They continued to call a great game and put the team in a place to succeed.
3rd Quarter: A
The only reason this game is still close is a series of offensive miscues. The coaching staff has given the players an effective gameplan but the players haven't been able to fully execute on the field.
They have the opportunity to change that in the final 15 minutes and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.
2nd Quarter: A
The coaches made adjustments on both sides of the ball and the results have been spectacular for Seattle. The defense has stiffened and the offensive line has adjusted its blocking, becoming more stout.
It is difficult to blame the red zone issues on the coaching staff. Part of the game is execution and Seattle has had a few breakdowns.
1st Quarter: D
The Redskins lost offensive guard Kory Lichtensteiger early in the game. This should have opened up opportunities for stunt packages from the right side of Seattle’s defense, but the coaching staff is yet to seize the opportunity.
The defensive coaches also need to respond to the Redskins' offense. They can't afford to wait until halftime to make adjustments or this game could be close to decided after 30 minutes.
Many analysts mused at the start of the season about how hot Pete Carroll's seat had become in Seattle.
Some of us scoffed at the idea, but Andy Reid provides a cautionary tale on how NFL owners won't accept under-performance from an established coach. So how much patience did Carroll deserve given the criticism of his first stint in the NFL?
More importantly, he took a team bereft of talent and made it competitive in short order.
Coach of the year awards typically look at just the current season, but the way he and John Schneider have churned the roster and made a team that can compete for a trip to the Super Bowl is nothing short of extraordinary.