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Redskins Get Second Playoff Shot in Seattle

Monday, December 31, 2007

Did the Washington Redskins game yesterday leave you with a vague yet nagging feeling of deja vu? Maybe it had something to do with the rain at FedEx Field. Or the approaching playoffs. Or perhaps it was related to the Seattle Seahawks, next week's first-round opponent.

In its last playoff game -- a second-round matchup against the Seahawks Jan. 14, 2006 -- Washington was eliminated, 20-10, on -- what else? -- a rainy day in Seattle.

The Redskins, whose victory over Tampa Bay in a first-round game had been their sixth in a row, struggled in the first half and poured it on in the second but could not capitalize.

As the NFC's best team, the Seahawks were coming off two weeks of rest and were playing in a stadium in which they had not lost all season. They may have been stumbling -- stung by the loss of running back Shaun Alexander to a concussion in the first quarter and losing the turnover battle (3-1) -- but the Redskins' offense was bumbling. "We just had a tough time of it in the first half," Coach Joe Gibbs said.

The attack sputtered for the third straight week; it had set a franchise postseason low with 120 total yards in Tampa Bay. "We are frustrated right now," said quarterback Mark Brunell, who was 7 of 15 for 38 yards first half as the team failed to convert a first down until nearly 18 minutes into the game. "I am sick that we lost the game, particularly with the numbers that we have -- or have not -- had these last two games."

The game looked to be out of reach with Seattle leading 17-3 with 14 minutes left. Chris Cooley, the tight end formerly known as H-back, took a short pass 52 yards over the middle, and on third and six from the 20, Brunell's pass wobbled into the end zone, bounced off the hands of Seahawks cornerback Andre Dyson and hung in the air for Santana Moss.

Moss snatched the ball, and suddenly the Redskins were a touchdown from tying the score with 12 minutes left. Josh Scobee fumbled John Hall's kickoff, with Hall recovering at the Seattle 40.

Washington reached the 18 and, on third down, Brunell overthrew Moss. Hall lined up from 36 yards but pulled his kick wide left.

Fullback Mack Strong stopped Seattle's slide, breaking wide right on third and six and gaining 32 yards as the defense keyed on an inside play. Josh Brown kicked a 31-yard field goal with less than three minutes left. Just like that, a season that had been marked by gripping endings, wild comebacks and remarkable plays was over.

-- Cindy Boren

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