With 2:26 left to play in the first quarter, the Redskins' 14-0 advantage came as a surprise to every fan and media member alike. The consensus coming into today's game was split 50-50 in terms of predicting the winner, but no one thought Washington would jump out on Seattle the way they did after their first two possessions.
However, the Seahawks' largest deficit (14 points) of the season didn't affect their offensive game plan one bit. In a two-touchdown hole, they didn't waver, they kept pounding Marshawn Lynch to the tune of 132 yards on 20 carries.
His 132-yard performance tied the 'Hawks' single-game postseason record for the most rushing yards in a game.
Yet his impressive second-half display was almost overshadowed by a third-quarter fumble that haunted him until his 27-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run. Seattle's lone rushing touchdown came with 7:08 left to play.
Moreover, Lynch's record-tying accomplishment wasn't the only efficient performance Darrell Bevell's offense produced. Apparently rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had been saving one of his best zone-read option performances for the playoffs.
Wilson and the Seahawks offense had started dabbling with the zone-read option just five weeks ago against the Bears in Chicago. It helped them storm back from a late-game deficit, which in turn spurred a six-game win streak.
Tonight, No. 3 piled up 254 of Seattle's 380 yards of total offense. His 187 yards passing were nothing to write home about, but his decisions out of the zone-read option helped him pick up an additional 67 yards on the ground.
According to ESPN, the third-round pick out of Wisconsin became the first postseason quarterback since Donovan McNabb in 2003 to hit the 187-yard passing plateau and 67-yard rushing mark in the same game:
Russell Wilson: 187 passing yards, 67 rushing yards. Last QB to hit both benchmarks in playoff game: Donovan McNabb, 2003 Eagles— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 7, 2013
Wilson also became only the sixth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game. Not to mention it signaled the third time a rookie quarterback has won his first playoff start on the road. The first two quarterbacks to accomplish this feat were Joe Flacco in 2008 and Mark Sanchez in 2009.
Without question Seattle knows they have a special young play-caller on its hands and a powerful run game, yet none of its success would be possible without Gus Bradley's defense—especially today.
Bradley's unit imposed its will by sacking quarterback Robert Griffin III twice throughout the game and hitting him multiple other times. On one of the few deep shots the Redskins took, safety Earl Thomas picked off RG3's pass, helping shift the momentum in the Seahawks' favor.
Heading into Atlanta next week, Seattle will need that same kind of performance from the secondary. They will also need to step up their pass-rush another notch if they don't want Matt Ryan and company to come out guns blazing at the Georgia Dome.
Chris Clemons' knee injury will undoubtedly hurt, but if rookie Bruce Irvin wants to validate his first-round draft selection, there's no better time to do it than next week.
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