The matchup in front of 84,325, the largest postseason home crowd in team history, featured rookie of the year candidates Griffin and Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ dynamic quarterback in the Redskins’ first home playoff game since the 1999 season. It also had two of the league’s top three running backs in Washington’s Alfred Morris and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
But with Griffin ineffective after he apparently reinjured the sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee in the first quarter, the game instead became a defensive struggle.
Ultimately, the Redskins yielded.
“It was a fun run,” said Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, whose team was left for dead at the bye week, owning a 3-6 record, but won seven straight to capture their first NFC East title since 1999. “I’m very disappointed today. You always want to play your best football during the playoffs. We probably had our best first quarter. After that first quarter, we just didn’t seem to get things done.”
The Redskins led 14-13 at halftime. After a scoreless third quarter, Seattle broke through with a 27-yard touchdown run by Lynch, who took a handoff, bounced off a would-be tackler and barreled into the end zone after receiving a downfield block from Wilson.
Wilson then completed a two-point conversion pass to tight end Zach Miller to give Seattle a 21-14 lead with 7 minutes 8 seconds left.
Things then went from bad to worse.
Still limping badly, Griffin took the field with his team in need of the heroics that he had supplied throughout the season. But his balky knee betrayed him. Griffin was sacked for a 12-yard loss when he couldn’t summon his 4.4 speed or elusiveness as he tried to roll to his right and avoid linebacker Bruce Irvin.
On the following play — second and 22 from the Washington 12 — center Will Montgomery’s shotgun snap was low. As Griffin scrambled after the loose ball, his knee buckled. The quarterback went down in a heap and Seattle tackle Clinton McDonald recovered the ball at the 5.
As Griffin writhed in pain on the ground, athletic trainer Larry Hess, his assistants and team orthopedic surgeon James Andrews rushed onto the field. Redskins defensive players took the field and dropped to a knee to pray for their injured quarterback.
Griffin eventually rose to his feet with assistance, but walked off under his own power. He shook hands with defensive end Doug Worthington, then hobbled off while giving a salute to fans who applauded and chanted “R-G-III.”
Shanahan met Griffin at the sideline. The quarterback put his arm around his coach, said something and retreated to the bench.