Best and worst moments from Washington’s 24-14 season-ending loss to the Seahawks at FedEx Field. Images via @jose3030.
Worst Field: After about 17 consecutive weeks of making fun of FedEx Field’s particular brand of grounds-keeping aesthetics, the topic finally got some national love. In the sense of national mockery. It looks like hell, it spits out debris, it’s got more holes than a wheel of Emmentaler, and it sure didn’t seem to help matters for that franchise quarterback’s shaky knee. “The condition of FedEx field doesn’t surprise me,” Graham Gano tweeted during the game. “Most specialists I played against there said it was the worst field they had ever seen.” “FedEx field conditions are terrible,” ESPN’s Chris Mortensen added.
Worst Decision: Is it hindsight? Heck yeah it’s hindsight. But with a healthy-ish Robert Griffin III, the Redskins were in control of that football game. Shortly before going up 14-0, Griffin got hurt again. Then the offense — and the quarterback — could no longer move. Sure, you have to try it for a while. He’s the franchise, after all. But we reached a point where it was obvious to everyone that things just weren’t working out, because the quarterback couldn’t move and couldn’t throw. That point came well before he was face-down in the dirt. “Terrible way to lose,” Rich Gannon tweeted. “Should have shut him down 20 min ago. The kids too tough to know when enough is enough.”
Worst Nine-Yard Run: Robert Griffin III’s seven-yard run early in the fourth quarter was the ugliest nine yards that man has run in his life. He was skipping, really. Hobbling like a toddler in moon boots. How he gained nine yards on that play I have no idea, but it hurt to watch, like being strapped down in front of a DVD that won’t stop skipping. This was around the point where I said, ok, enough is enough.
Worst Deep Ball: If you thought Robert Griffin III’s knee injury was only affecting his running ability, his second-quarter interception probably changed your mind. Griffin’s deep ball doesn’t explode out of his hand the same way with just one leg, and Earl Thomas got a pretty easy interception as a result. That wasn’t the same deep ball RGIII was throwing earlier this season. He threw for 68 yards in the first quarter, and 16 in the next three.
(Next) Worst Injury Sight: Uh, many-way tie. Pierre Garcon limping off the field, not once but twice? Kory Lichtensteiger down on one knee, having re-aggravated his ankle injury? His replacement, Josh LeRebius, then winding up on the trainer’s table? All were grisly.
Worst Drop: Robert Griffin III’s fourth-quarter pass to Leonard Hankerson wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for a professional receiver to make a possibly game-saving third-down play. That didn’t happen. Seattle scored on its next drive.
Worst Third-Down Conversion: Crowd roaring. Defense rocking. Third-and-long. And Russell Wilson found Zach Miller for 22 yards and a fourth-quarter conversion, which was the beginning of the end.
Appended Worst Third-Down Conversion: On Seattle’s next third down, just seconds after I typed that, Marshawn Lynch ran 27 yards, carrying a pile of four or five Redskins into the end zone to give Seattle its first lead, which was the middle of the end. (The end of the end, of course, was Griffin’s fumble and injury.)
Worst Tackle: DeAngelo Hall had a shot at Marshawn Lynch early on that touchdown run. The cornerback dove for Lynch’s legs, and didn’t seem to slow him down one whit. One of many, many what-could-have-been moments.
Best First Quarter: Well, the first 15 minutes couldn’t have gone much better, anyhow. Among the statistics: 129 to 9 in yards, 9 to 1 in first downs, 20 to 7 in plays from scrimmage, and 11:01 to 3:59 in time of possession. Also, 14 to 0 in points, and a lot to a little in fan screams of exultation.
Worst Second Quarter: Because the NFL always does this, the second quarter was a virtual reverse image of the first. Among the statistics: 172 to 11 in yards, 11 to 1 in first downs and 24 to 5 in plays. Also, 13 to 0 in points, and a lot to a little in fan screams of exultation.
Worst Talking: DeAngelo Hall has undoubtedly played very well in recent weeks, silencing many of his critics. But it sure hasn’t silenced DeAngelo Hall. I’m all for celebrating, and I’m trying to hard to keep from turning into a old person, but there’s just something off-putting about how frequently he ends plays by jabbing his facemask into someone else’s helmet, especially after that someone else just gained a first down.
Worst Analysis: “I’m going with the underdogs, I’m going with Seattle,” Terry Bradshaw said on Fox’s pre-game show, simultaneously picking both teams. See, Seattle was actually the favorite in this game.
Best Decision: Somewhere near the middle of this season, Mike Shanahan’s default coin-flip decision morphed from “kick” to “receive.” With a raucous, borderline insane home crowd on Sunday, some thought that might change. Nah. The Skins won, took the ball, and stormed down the field for a touchdown and a lead. Then the raucous, borderline insane home crowd got louder.
Best Pass Rush: Much of this season, fans and media members complained about a decided lack of a Washington pass rush. That’s changed in recent weeks, and it kept changing on Sunday. Russell Wilson was sacked on two of his first five snaps, the first time on a Stephen Bowen/London Fletcher collaboration, the second time courtesy Perry Riley. The pressure disappeared for much of the next two quarters, but near the end of the third quarter Washington recorded two sacks in five plays, one by Reed Doughty and the next by Josh Wilson. On Seattle’s next drive, Doughty had yet another sack.
Best Big Game: How about Reed Doughty, incidentally? He entered the game with 3.5 sacks in his career, including one over the last three seasons. Then he busted out 2 sacks in his first-ever home playoff game.
Worst Snaps: What happened to Will Montgomery in the second half? There were multiple snapping problems, with both quarterbacks, which is not something that has plagued the Redskins this season.
Best Special Teamer: Sav Rocca kept the Redskins alive during that terrifying third-quarter field-position game by repeatedly booming kicks out of his own end. He wound up kicking four times for an average of more than 48 yards.
Worst Punt Return Operation: Seattle’s last punt of the third quarter bounced all over the place and very nearly nicked two different Redskins players, which could have been disastrous. GET AWAY! RUN!
Best Attempt to Play Arena Rules: After Russell Wilson doinked a first-half pass off the goal posts, Josh Wilson grabbed the carom and bolted out of the end zone. Why isn’t that in play, anyhow? You could specialize in rebound-passes. Bet RGIII would be great at those.
Best Fumble Recovery: A nod to the Seahawks, as Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch barely broke his stride in snatching a first-half fumble off the dirt and rumbling 18 yards for a first down. I’m usually an advocate of the “JUST JUMP ON THE BALL” strategy, but this seemed to work for him.
Worst Coverage: Seattle’s first touchdown came on a lob to fullback Michael Robinson who was left alone like he had just showered in vomit and brushed his teeth with spoiled French onion dip. Like, no one was covering him, is what I mean.
Worst First Play of the Second Half: A 26-yard Marshawn Lynch run was not exactly on the second-half to-do list.
Best Turnover: Seattle seemed ready to stun FedEx Field and the Redskins into misery with its first drive of the second half. But on second-and-goal from the 1, Barry Cofield forced a Marshawn Lynch fumble and Jarvis Jenkins recovered it. Fox reported that it was Seattle’s first red zone turnover of the season.
Worst Job of Feeding Alfred Morris: That kid carried the Redskins to the NFC East title a week ago. This time, he hardly got a chance. He wound up with 16 carries for 80 yards, the first time he failed to get at least 22 carries since Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.
Best Crowd: From fan reports, from television sound, from every image I saw, this was almost certainly the best crowd in the history of FedEx Field. There were almost no Seattle fans to be seen, and the Redskins people — at least in the 100 level — didn’t seem to be sitting much. Or at all. Of course, it was silent at the end, but for three quarters, that was a football environment to be proud of. (Note: I didn’t have to deal with any inebriated people at home, so easy for me to say.)
Worst Playoff Opponent: Three straight playoff trips have now ended at the hands of the Seahawks.
Worst Inevitable Discussion: Strasburg is to the Nats as RGIII is to the Redskins? Who knows. One thing is for sure: both teams saw their seasons end in the playoffs with their best player injured and on the sidelines.
Best News: The NHL lockout ended. The Caps will start playing soon. Life goes on.