Playing the Respect Card vs. the Favorite

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 9, 2006

With the exception of the Carolina Panthers, every team the Washington Redskins could have faced in the NFC playoffs was one they played during the regular season. After avenging a November loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Redskins will play Seattle, a team they beat, 20-17, in overtime in Week 4 at FedEx Field.

Because they beat Seattle, the Redskins can't seek revenge when they play the Seahawks on Saturday in a second-round playoff game in Seattle. So the Redskins have begun to adopt the next best strategy: disrespect. At 13-3, the Seahawks are the top seed in the NFC and, having had two weeks off and playing at home, would understandably be the favorite. The Redskins, though, are finding their underdog status as a motivating factor nonetheless.

"No one is giving us a chance, because it's Seattle," right cornerback Shawn Springs said. "I was watching [television] and they laughed about the Redskins going to Seattle and they laughed at our offense. They talked so bad about our offense not knowing that we played Tampa Bay, and they were extremely impressive."

After losing to the Redskins on Oct. 2, Seattle reeled off 11 straight wins before losing the regular season finale, 23-17, on Jan. 1 at Green Bay. In winning 13 games, Seattle played four playoff teams and went 2-2, beating Indianapolis and the Giants while losing to Jacksonville and the Redskins.

Springs: 'I'll Be Ready'

A day after missing the Redskins' first playoff game in six years with a strained groin, Springs sounded like a boxing promoter pumping up the hype machine for his homecoming Saturday in Seattle.

Springs was taken third overall by the Seahawks in the 1997 draft and within a year was a Pro Bowl cornerback. In Seattle, Springs was reunited with Ohio State teammate Joey Galloway, the same player who razzed Springs for missing Saturday's Redskins-Buccaneers wild-card playoff game.

"I'm going to be psyched for this one, believe that," Springs said. "See you in Seattle."

Seattle allowed Springs to leave as a free agent after the 2003 season. Springs signed a six-year, $24 million contract with the Redskins in March 2004.

"I'll be ready for Seattle, for sure. I was hurt so bad in the Philly game, I was nervous," he said.

Nearly Booting It

A week after playing poorly in Philadelphia, the Redskins' kicking game struggled against the Bucs. In the first quarter on fourth and nine from the 34, Coach Joe Gibbs chose to punt instead of allowing John Hall to attempt a 51-yard field goal. The decision did not hurt the Redskins because on the Buccaneers' first play of the drive, LaVar Arrington intercepted Chris Simms at the 27 and took the ball to the Bucs 6-yard line.

The punting game did not fare much better. Derrick Frost finished with a 30.1 net average and wound up with a black eye tackling Mark Jones, who broke a return for 24 yards.

The worst came last. Trailing 17-10 with no timeouts and 1 minute 12 seconds left, the Bucs expected to face poor field position with the Redskins punting from their 40-yard line. But Frost shanked the punt, which went out of bounds at the Tampa 46 for a 14-yard effort. Again, the miscue did not hurt the Redskins because the defense made another big play when Marcus Washington intercepted Simms on first down.

A week earlier, trying to hold a slim lead against the Eagles, Hall bounced a kickoff out of bounds, giving the Eagles the ball at the 40-yard line with 12:19 left in a 24-20 game. But again the defense bailed out the Redskins. Three plays later, Joe Salave'a recovered a fumble by Mike McMahon.

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