For a team that previously lost six straight, nothing comes easy, as was the case this afternoon in Seattle. The important thing is that the Redskins were good when it counted, and it was a total team victory. Here’s the breakdown:
On the one hand, the Redskins put up 416 yards of total offense, their highest showing since Week 2, and the second highest of the season. The offensive line opened up holes for running back Roy Helu, and kept Rex Grossman upright for most of the game. Helu showed that his 146-yard game against the 49ers wasn’t a fluke, going over 100 yards for the first time today, with 162 total yards and his first NFL touchdown. The Redskins receivers managed to get open when it really mattered, and Santana Moss returned to his clutch ways. Anthony Armstrong, who had five receptions for 47 yards all season, finally came down with a game-changing catch for 50 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was this week’s incarnation of Donte Stallworth, and proved that the storyline of this season is “the next man up.” The offense clicked in the first and fourth quarters, and that was the difference in this game.
This wasn’t the defense’s best game, but they limited the damage and settled down in the second half. They yielded only 250 yards of total offense for the Seahawks, including just 144 yards through the air. They may not have had the sacks or turnovers that they were looking for, but they didn’t give up the big play either, and they played well in all facets of the game.
On Special Teams:
Clearly, this was a tough day for kickers, and that’s not just limited to Graham Gano. Sav Rocca was charged with his first touchback of the season, the second-to-last punter in the league to put one in the end zone. On a happy note, he also added to his punts inside the 20 and averaged 44.5 yards on the day.
As for Gano, he made things interesting (1 blocked FG, 1 blocked PAT, kickoff out of bounds), but he iced the game when it counted (fourth quarter FG). His two blocked kicks nearly came home to roost, but his last kick put the Redskins up by six and forced the Seahawks to aim for the end zone. This has been a tough eight days for Gano, and it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff gauges his performance. Head coach Mike Shanahan said this week that the pressure was on for Gano, and his performance today was important. Which matters more: conditions or performance?
At the end of the day, the Redskins managed to escape their first seven-game losing streak in more than a decade, and they did it in the worst possible conditions. It shows great resolve to fly six hours into one of the most hostile environments in the NFL, play a team with a better record and momentum, play in the rain and wind and cold, play from behind–and come out on top. From the opening kickoff, it was clear that this was a game that the Redskins should win. Regardless of whether they’re a better team every week, they won on this given Sunday, and it was important that they come away from this colossal road trip with a win.
Now the monkey is off their backs, and the questions of leadership and character can settle back to a dull roar. The plane ride back to Washington will be a long one, but a good one, as players can finally breathe a sigh of relief. As easy as it is to settle into a slump, this team needs to look to build on the positive momentum this week. This was a good team win, but there are enough issues to resolve before the Jets next week.
Hopefully, today is the start of a new streak.
So long from Seattle, with Washington in the win column: Redskins 23, Seahawks 17.