It was a disappointing end to an exciting season and the game that ended the season is already generating a ton of questions and discussion that will last weeks. There's time for that but first, the good, bad, and more from the loss to Seattle.
1. The start. No doubt that the Redskins were ready at the start in all phases for this game. For a quarter, they dominated. Their first two offensive drives of the game were perfection. The defense was very good at the start as well. It looked very good at 14-zip but Seattle got a few huge breaks on their 2nd and 3rd possessions of the game that probably saved them from being blown out. More on that below.
2. RG3's competitiveness. I think there are reasonable differences of opinion on whether or not he should have been pulled from the game but I don't agree with the view that the decision to keep him in the game was dumb, selfish, or irresponsible on anyone's part. RG3's big-time competitiveness and his associated confidence makes it a tough in-the-moment call to bench him if he says he's good and ready to roll. Many ripped Cutler for pulling himself in the NFC Championship a few years ago....that wasn't going to happen with RG3.
3. Reed Doughty. He has played very well recently but he was spectacular today. He had 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and a few more QB hits to go with a near-pick in the end zone. It was a memorable game for him.
4. Jim Haslett's defense. Even though ultimately the defense gave up 224 yards rushing in this game, I thought Jim Haslett's defense did everything it could to give the team a chance to win the game. Over the last month, the defense has been able to generate legitimate pass rush pressure and force key turnovers and today was no different. Five sacks, plenty of hurries, and a huge early third-quarter forced fumble at the goal line. Sometimes a coach does his best job when it's not obvious based on the numbers. Haslett got the most out of limited resources over the last month of the season.
5. Sav Rocca and kick/punt coverage. Rocca had some huge punts including a 53-yard net punt late in the 3rd qtr that finally flipped the field in the Skins' favor. Punt and kickoff coverage were solid all day too.
1. The turf. It was perfectly fit for a playoff game in the 20th century....not in 2013. Field turf should be considered if they can't keep a grass field in decent shape In December and January.
2. Not enough Morris. Whether RG3 was hurting or not, I thought Morris should've gotten more than five second half carries. To be fair, the Redskins only had a few possessions in the 2nd half in total and several of those started in horrific field position where they were trying to make a play through the air with Seattle showing 8 in the box. Still, on 7 2nd-half first-down plays before they fell behind 24-14, Morris only carried the ball on one of them.
3. Drop-back pass game. This has been a problem all season long for the Redskins. They just aren't very good when they have to throw. RG3 wasn't healthy for sure so part of their failure to throw was on his inability to step into passes and/or extend plays with his feet. It was even more apparent when Cousins came in. He had no time in pure pass situations down by 10. This is why the read-option was their most effective pass offense this year because it kept the pass rush in flux.
4. The play that may have changed the game. Down 14-zip, Seattle faced 3rd and 12 from their own 18 after Wilson was sacked by Perry Riley for a 6-yard loss. With the crowd in full throat, Wilson underthrew Zach Miller short of the sticks but instead of an incompletion and a subsequent punt, Miller made a shoestring catch and somehow was able to get the necessary first down yardage through would-be tacklers Hall and Wilson. It was just one play early in the game but if he doesn't make that catch and a first down, the Redskins would've gotten the ball back in great field position with a chance to add to the 14-nothing lead. Instead, the Miller first-down catch was the key play on a drive that ended in a Seattle field goal.
5. Leonard Hankerson hears footsteps. He's had an up and down year but one thing has been consistent....if he's going over the middle and a defender is close, he's going to short-arm it.
1. Shanahan's decision to stick with RG3. Truth is, I never felt strongly during the game that RG3 should be benched for Kirk Cousins. I thought about it but it wasn't obvious to me until he was laying on the ground after the fumble down 21-14. In hindsight, it's easy to say their chances would've been better with Cousins at some point before the 4th quarter but with that said, I never gave up on the possibility that RG3 would make enough plays to win the game. My view on this whole thing is that RG is a competitor, he's the main reason you're in this game, he's telling you he can do it, you let him go, especially considering that your team still had the lead. How much better would Cousins have made out with the awful 2nd half field position? Maybe better or maybe worse. Keep in mind, as limited as he was, RG3 still had a 3rd and 7 throw to Leonard Hankerson early in the 4th quarter that Hankerson should've caught for a first down. It would've given the Skins a first down in Seattle territory up 14-13. I understand and believe Shanahan's postgame explanation that he felt Robert had earned the right to keep playing as long as Robert felt he was up for it and the doctors weren't pleading for him to sit. I think this was a much tougher call in the heat of the game than it seems now.
2. A key play that bounced Seattle's way. Russell Wilson fumbles and instead of Madieu Williams or Rob Jackson picking it up, Lynch picks it up and rumbles for a 20-yard gain. It was a key play on their first touchdown drive.
3. Haushka was hurt. The Lynch go-ahead touchdown run on 3rd and 5 was obviously a big-time run. If the Skins had gotten a stop, I wonder if Seattle would've sent an injured Haushka out for a 45 yard FG on bad turf.
4. Seattle had some missed opportunites. A dropped pass by McCoy near the end of the first half could've been a touchdown....the fumble at the Skins 2 by Lynch on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter....Wilson missed a wide-open Baldwin in the end zone in the 3rd quarter.
5. Near-disaster on a punt return. Skins got lucky they didn't turn it over on a punt return in the 3rd qtr when the ball nearly hit Cedric Griffin and Richard Crawford.