In Game of Chances, Redskins Fall Short

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 16, 2006

Even as the Washington Redskins players walked out of the visitors locker room at Qwest Field on Saturday night, there was a feeling of disbelief that their season was over. The biggest reason was not that they thought they were better than the Seattle Seahawks, but more because they had followed the script to winning in the postseason and fell short.

The Redskins came out ahead in the turnover battle, forcing five fumbles and recovering three. They committed one turnover, which came on a desperation fourth and 13 with 2 minutes 1 second left in the third quarter. Mark Brunell was sacked and fumbled, and defensive end Grant Wistrom recovered the ball, but the Seahawks (14-3) would have taken over on downs if he had not fumbled.

Stopping the run is another supposed key to winning in January. During the regular season, the Seahawks averaged 153.6 rushing yards, third-best in the NFL, and 4.7 yards per carry. The Redskins held Seattle to 119 yards and 3.6 yards per rush.

"Turnovers they say is the name of the game, right?" linebacker Marcus Washington said. "Well, we won that one. They say you have to have to stop the run to win in the playoffs. We did that, too. We just got real close and didn't get close enough."

Perhaps more than any other player in the Redskins' locker room, it was Washington who articulated recriminations "It was there, man," he said. "It was there."

Thus, everything about Saturday's 20-10 loss to the Seahawks, defensive tackle Joe Salave'a said, seemed to go against the Redskins by a hair. There was a key moment midway through the second quarter with the Redskins holding a 3-0 lead and the top-seeded Seahawks seemingly on the verge of collapse, having fumbled three times in the first 20 minutes.

"The chances were there," Salave'a said. "We honestly thought it was going to be our time."

On first and 10 from his 26, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck looked for running back Maurice Morris in the left flat. Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers was playing in a cover-2 zone -- meaning his sole responsibility on pass plays is to guard the flat -- and jumped the route. He appeared to have a sure interception and clear path for a touchdown run that would have given the Redskins a 10-0 lead.

Rogers grabbed the ball, but it bounced off of his chest. Eleven plays later, Hasselbeck threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson, and the Redskins never led again.

"I had it in my hands, for a second," Rogers said.

There was the great comeback in the fourth quarter, when Santana Moss scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass off a deflection in the end zone to make it 17-10, and Josh Scobey immediately fumbled the kickoff.

"I assumed once we got that fumble, we were going to tie it up, and it would be a new game," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "It didn't happen. You have to find a way, and we didn't."

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