Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
What to expect when you're expecting.
The better team won.
There, I said it. I am not saying that to troll Redskins fans, I hope they understand that. Washington has a bright future with Robert Griffin III, if he can stay healthy. But overall, Seattle is just better. The Seahawks have a better defense and that showed after the first quarter. Even if the first quarter was just Screech-in-a-beauty-pageant-not-pretty. After that, you know, the other three quarters, Seattle played the football we expected them to play.
Physical football. Defensive football. A systematic breakdown of Washington's offense. The Redskins had two drives in the first quarter and they both went for touchdowns. None of their next eight drives went for more than 24 yards. That is what I expected out of the Seahawks. I never expected us to shutdown Griffin and Alfred Morris completely (though eventually, they did) I just expected Seattle's offense to outplay Washington's defense. The Redskins defense played better than I expected though and still Marshawn Lynch ran for 132 yards on 20 carries and still Russell Wilson had 67 yards on eight carries.
That's a good way to win a football game.
The reason that I picked the Seahawks to win this game rather easily (I got the '14' part right) wasn't because I am a homer. It's because Seattle is the all-around better team and even after a two-touchdown deficit, things should start regressing to the game that you'd expect. And that's exactly what happened. If these two teams met 1000 times on a neutral field, I'd think that Seattle wins a significant majority of those games and also that both quarterbacks would wind up in the hospital on Guerrero Street by the 400th game.
When the Seahawks got the ball back with 2:26 left in the first quarter, here was the yardage totals: Redskins 149, Seahawks -2. It's not an ideal way to start, especially on the road. I also won't discount that a healthy Griffin could make this a different outcome, but it's not like I think that Washington would have scored three more touchdowns if his knee was 100%. He looked a little gimpy out there but otherwise was still able to have decent runs, though it's not like he would have gained 60 yards on a rollout instead of nine. After those two drives though, these were the yardage totals:
Seahawks 382, Redskins 54.
After Washington had the ball for 10 minutes and 56 seconds of the first 12:23 to start the game, the Hawks owned the ball and rarely lent it back to the Skins. Final time of possession: Seattle 34:20, Washington 25:40. If it wasn't for the ball being popped out of Marshawn Lynch's arms in the third quarter, the Seahawks would have scored on four straight possessions and taken the lead early in the second half. The Redskins' yards on drives after the first quarter: 8, 3, 24, 4, 17, -12, 23, 4.
It wasn't because I didn't respect the Washington offense or running game that I thought Seattle would win, it's everything else. Seattle struggled in the early going and then scored the last 24 points of the game. If there's anything I'm concerned about, it's that Wilson has been sacked eleven times in the last two games. The Rams are great at creating pressure but the Redskins weren't supposed to be. So, what's happening there and how do we fix it by Sunday? (It's a good thing that's a rhetorical question because I don't have any idea how to fix it. I know very little about being an NFL coach.)
What I do know is that the Seahawks won on the road in the postseason for just the second time in franchise history. Can they do that two more times? It's certainly looking possible. Here's some notes!
Miller Time is my Bud-dy, of Coors
Zach Miller picked a hell of a time to have his biggest game as a Seahawk, as least as far as receiving goes. We've seen Miller improve as time goes on and better understand why Seattle gave him a 5-year contract, but this was big time. This was Flava-Flav-clock sort of big time. The Big Tymers would be proud of him, it was so big time. This goes beyond the space-time continuum because of how big time it was.
A 12-yard catch on third-and-12. A 22-yard catch on third-and-10. A 2-point conversion. A 6-yard catch on fourth-and-1.
There's also this tidbit from Football Outsiders as they were watching the game:
Ben Muth: Zach Miller with the block of the year on that Marshawn Lynch touchdown. Inside Zone Slice concept and Miller just decapitated the outside linebacker. Then he catches the two-point conversion. Huge day for Miller.
Here's the deal: Seattle would have had a very difficult time winning this game without Miller. In the early-part of the year it was easy to look at that contract and wonder if Miller could be a cap casualty. He didn't catch a touchdown last season and he had some bad drops. He's had fewer yards in two seasons in Seattle than what he would have in any normal year for the Raiders. This is where statistics fall short, especially for a tight end. Miller can block, Miller can make big plays, that's why he is valuable to the Seahawks even if he's not worth adding on your fantasy team.
Get Miller gator boots with a pimped out Gucci suit, he is so big time.
In the big battle of the rookies, the defense won
Yeah, that's right. I led with Zach Miller over Wilson. I'm surprised too.
Wilson finished the game 15-of-26 for 187 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT and 67 yards on eight carries. It wasn't his best game but let's have a little perspective here. In his playoff debut, on the road, Wilson was pretty good. He had 2 TD and 7 INT in his first four road starts, so he's come a long way. He hasn't thrown an interception on the road since Week 8 against the Lions.
It also showed that Wilson's scrambling ability really paid off while Griffin came up limping just before the Redskins second touchdown. And that's really what people are going to focus on; RG3's injury and how it affected his play, plus this whole idea that Mike Shanahan was played by Jon Voight, Griffin was Paul Walker, and they were giving him bad medical advice for the betterment of winning one game. If the Redskins want to keep Griffin healthy, get a better field for Christ's sake. Chris Clemons probably agrees with this sentiment.
Griffin started off the game 6-of-9 for 68 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. After that, he was 4-of-10 for 16 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT. Kirk Cousins came in for the injured Griffin and was 3-of-10 for 31 yards. People are talking about Cousins as a guy that needs to be starting somewhere and he got shut down in limited duty. He's come into games late twice this season and performed much better than that.
Eventually, the defense wins.
I just hope that this defense doesn't look too much worse without Clemons.
When Life Hurts Clemons, Make Clemonade.
Red Bryant is second on the defensive line in terms of most snaps. Bryant has been on the field for 675 snaps. Chris Clemons leads the defensive line in snaps.
He has 911 of them.
Yes, indeed, please call 9-1-1. We might have just lost a guy that's on the field for 87% of the defensive snaps. It's not going to be hard to replace Clemons, because it's more like 'impossible' than hard. He's the only guy on the line that is really capable of rushing the quarterback and stopping the rush. This is really going to be a time to find out what you've got with Bruce Irvin whether you like it or not. Seattle has struggled to consistently stop the run for the last nine games or so. I guess if there's a bright side, it's that the Falcons don't run the ball anyway.
We're going to miss Clemons, he's a pretty important player, but I'm not extremely concerned this week. Other players have stepped up when called upon this year, unexpected names like Jeremy Lane and Greg Scruggs. I think we can get that again. At least, I hope we do.
The Robert Report
I watched the Real Rob Report for over an hour on Sunday morning. I can't get enough of Michael Robinson but also seeing the other players on this team in a different light. They almost all come out positively, but the refusal of Marshawn Lynch to talk to Robinson is my favorite thing about it.
It's really hard not to love Robinson though and as I was watching it, I kept thinking to myself that I wanted him to do something special against the Redskins. He seems like such a genuine dude and I hope that his skillset allows him to remain a Seahawk into his mid-30's as the new Mack Strong. Robinson hasn't scored a rushing touchdown since 2006, his rookie season. He didn't catch a touchdown until 2011 and he had two this year. His job is to make Lynch's job easier, which is why it's so hilariously ironic that Lynch doesn't make it easy for Robinson to do the Rob report.
On Sunday he got to do more than block for Lynch though, he got to score the Seahawks first touchdown with a 4-yard reception that helped close the gap on Washington. I felt pretty good about that.
I met Richard Sherman's mother!
You can be the Falcons, but we shall remain... The Falconers.
Atlanta is the place you want to play in round two, especially with Clemons out. Trying to stop the 49ers rushing attack right now just doesn't sound very appetizing and it's very possible that the Packers will knock that run game right out of the playoffs. (In fact, that's what I'm expecting.)
I also expect, just like I expected this week, that the Seahawks will beat Atlanta. It's much closer for me than the Redskins matchup, but there is still a clearly better all-around football team. The Falcons played the 27th hardest schedule per DVOA. That's not very hard. Atlanta was 5-3 in the second half of the season. They lost to the Panthers by 10, the Saints by 4, and the Bucs in Week 17 but that wasn't much of a real game, I admit, with Atlanta having already clinched the top seed.
But they did just barely beat Tampa Bay in Week 12, so there's that.
It is true that Matt Ryan is 33-6 at home but it is also true that he and Mike Smith are 0-3 in the playoffs and Ryan has yet to have a good playoff game. What I love about this matchup is Richard Sherman on Roddy White and/or Julio Jones. One of your weapons should effectively be shut down. Second of all, Brandon Browner is back and though I don't expect him to lock down a receiver quite like Sherman, I do expect him to do well. White and Jones are elite players at their position but I don't expect either to go off. They could have some big catches but I think that's about it.
So if you shut down White and Jones, now what? When I think of the Falcons and Michael Turner I think of Daniel Day-Lewis shouting, "I'VE ABANDONED MY BOY! I'VE ABANDONED MY SON!" Turner has 222 carries for 800 yards and 3.6 yards per carry. Jacquizz Rodgers is averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but does have 53 catches. So, where does that leave Atlanta on offense? Perhaps the only problem, not that I dismiss it's a problem, is Tony Gonzalez. The Seahawks improved against tight ends this year, but they are still mostly average. However, I think that Seattle can limit the Falcons offense.
Atlanta is 16th in Weighted Defense DVOA, 11th against the pass, and 20th against the run. They had 20 interceptions and benefited from the fifth best turnover ratio in the NFL, but I don't expect Wilson to give it away. The Falcons played by the feathers of their wingy wing wings and Ryan had six game-winning drives this year.
If you're an Atlanta fan and you came here to talk about your team and you think I'm dissing them, I'm not. If you think I'm predicting the Seahawks to win, that's not usually my style. I expect them to win. But a prediction doesn't really matter anyway and I think that if these teams played 1000 simulations, Seattle might win like 600 times. It's hardly a guarantee. Just look to Sunday's game when Seattle nearly lost despite beating Washington pretty badly for three quarters and partly without Griffin. We could be talking about a much different outcome if someone else besides Lynch scoops up that fumble. I feel that the Hawks are more advanced on defense and special teams than Atlanta, same as they were against the Redskins. I don't like playing in Atlanta, I'd feel ten times better at home, and I think that Seattle's season could end on Sunday.
I just don't expect it to.