The 5th Quarter: Seahawks
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
Mark Brunell played a great game at quarterback. The numbers themselves don't reveal just how good a performance the southpaw put in against Seattle. The only flaw on his docket was the interception late in the game that could easily have resulted in a Redskin loss. It was perhaps his only bad pass all day long. The best word to describe the 20 of 36 for 226-yard performance is 'clutch'. Seattle blitzed early, often and heavily, and though the offensive line picked it up very well on most occasions, Brunell did a great job of moving around in the pocket. He looked comfortable in the protection and was stepping up and making good throws and solid decisions.
Once again, Santana Moss made a case for the notion that the Redskins got a better receiver than they gave up in the Moss / Laveranues Coles trade. What seemed like lip service on a situation gone badly in the Coles incident, has been more fact than fiction through the Redskins' first three games. Moss led all Washington receivers for the third straight week with 87 yards on 6 catches including a 30-yard strike. He also made a great touchdown catch that the officials robbed him of with an 'out of bounds' call. While it was a tough replay to overturn, it cheated Moss of a phenomenal toe drag catch on the sidelines. Moss now has 342 yards on just 15 catches through three games for an impressive 22.8-yards per catch and that ability to stretch the field is exactly what the Redskins were hoping that he would provide.
The one, two punch of Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts was strong. Both players put in workman-like performances in staking the Redskins to a hard-fought 141 yards on the ground. Portis led the way with 90 yards on 25 carries, but Betts' was effective almost every time he came in (12 carries for 35 yards). The great running back combination should not be overlooked as it allows Portis to stay fresh and moreover stay healthy throughout the rigors of a long NFL season.
Ironically, for the second straight week the biggest Redskin run in both yardage and importance came from Mark Brunell. In overtime, Brunell took off on a big third down attempt and went 18 yards for a Redskin first down to keep the eventual game-winning drive alive.
The offensive line owned the Seahawk defensive line, especially in the first half. Not only did the pave the way for the running backs, but they protected well as well. Jon 'Thumbs' Jansen and Randy Thomas were paving lanes for both running backs to take advantage of. Also worthy of note was Chris Samuels' control of Grant Wistrom in pass rush - a very difficult prospect. Overall the o-line gets top marks for a tough day at the office.
The mighty defense was definitely tested by the high-octane offense of the Seahawks. Seattle moved the ball effectively all day long, and were it not for a couple of big stands by the defense, the result could have been much different. Statistics dictate that the defense doesn't get a glowing grade, but certain consideration must be given to the fact that the Seahawks had the number two ranked offense in the NFL coming into the game. The Redskins' defense did actually manage to limit Shaun Alexander to less than 100 yards... just. Alexander broke one run, a 34-yard scamper, on his way to 98 yards and a touchdown over 20 carries on the day.
Lemar Marshall helped hold Alexander in check, and posted a team high 7 tackles along with the Redskins only sack of the day. Carlos Rogers also deserves mention, as he was solid all day long taking over for injured Walt Harris. Rogers was beat on a couple of plays but played tough cornerback football making 6 tackles and even forced a fumble. The physical play of both Rogers and former Seahawk Shawn Springs (4 tackles) helped the Redskins hold Alexander to a modest day by constantly sealing off the corners well.
An otherwise dismal performance is rescued by a clutch game-winning field goal by Nick Novak. Novak struggled all day long missing a field goal and with terribly short kickoffs, but do you cut a guy that just posted a game winner for you?
Thanks Nick, the Redskin fans appreciate the contribution.
The punting wasn't much of an issue, with newcomer Derrick Frost only having to punt twice all day long thanks to a good day for the offense. His forty-one yard average is decent on the surface but one of his two punts sailed into the end zone and resulted in just a 22-yard net punt. It's not inconceivable that Washington look to make changes at both kicking positions this week if John Hall is still injured for next week's game against the Denver Broncos.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Sunday's game was that both teams actually played well. That sounds ridiculous but in the days of parity, often a team loses a game more than their opponent wins it. That wasn't the case in the Redskins victory. Seattle played a good, tough away game... just not quite good enough.
Though it hasn't always been pretty so far, the Redskins are 3-0 for the first time since their 1991 Super Bowl season. The offense is slowly rolling into shape, and the team is learning how to win.
Hail to the Redskins. Hail to Victory number three.
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