Seahawks beat Redskins in NFC playoffs
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE ” The Seattle Seahawks weren’t about to play along with the sentimental favorite of this year’s playoffs.
The Redskins rode the passion and momentum of the last month one more time, overcoming a 13-point, second-half deficit. Then the Seahawks came back with three touchdowns of their own for a 35-14 NFC wild-card victory Saturday.
Matt Hasselbeck hit D.J. Hackett with a 20-yard scoring pass, and Marcus Trufant and Jordan Babineaux picked off Todd Collins’ first interceptions in a decade, returning them for touchdowns.
Seattle, 8-1 at home, beat a team that finished with a winning record for the first time since Week 1 and will travel to Green Bay next Saturday.
“I think two teams that cared a lot slugged it out,” Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. “And we won it.”
The Redskins go home with their four-game winning streak over, their mission to play and win for slain teammate Sean Taylor coming to an emotional end.
“I can’t believe it’s over with for us,” Washington linebacker London Fletcher said. “It just seemed our story was going to be written all the way to the Super Bowl for us.”
It took 2 1/2 quarters for the Redskins to get going, but for a while they seemed impossible to stop. Down 13-0, they practically ran downfield with the no-huddle offense behind mothballed quarterback Collins to score their first touchdown. Then came an interception by LaRon Landry, who took over at free safety after Taylor’s death, to set up another TD that gave Washington a 14-13 lead with 12:38 to play.
Landry later picked off another pass when the Seahawks were trying to rally.
But two special teams gaffes kept the Seahawks going. Shaun Suisham was wide left on a field goal from 30 yards after Seattle returner Nate Burleson misjudged a kickoff that was recovered by the Redskins. And a 33-yard punt by Derrick Frost gave Seattle good field position to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Taking over at Washington’s 42, the Seahawks scored five plays later. Hasselbeck pumped right and threw left to Hackett, who had safety Pierson Prioleau beaten by 5 yards. A pass to tight end Marcus Pollard gave Seattle a 2-point conversion and a 21-14 lead with 6:06 to play.
Then Collins, who engineered all four victories in the winning streak despite not having started a game since 1997, finally had a pass land in the other team’s hands. When receiver Santana Moss appeared to give up on a route deep down the right sideline, Trufant easily hauled in the ball and returned it 78 yards for a score.
With the Redskins desperately trying to catch up, Babineaux intercepted and returned it 57 yards for a score with 27 seconds left. Collins had not thrown an interception since Nov. 30, 1997, when he played for Buffalo in a game against the New York Jets.
As they have over the second half of the season, the Seahawks preferred the pass over the run. Hasselbeck finished 20-for-32 for 229 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Hackett caught six passes for 101 yards. Partick Kerney and Leroy Hill were among Seahawks defenders who made life miserable for the Redskins. Collins was sacked three times and hit repeatedly.
Collins went 29-for-50 for 266 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Clinton Portis, who had at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each game of the winning streak, ran 20 times for 52 yards and caught four passes for 28 yards.
Down 13-0, the Redskins finally found some offensive rhythm by speeding up. Collins was 7-of-9 for 66 yards, including a nice one-handed catch by tight end Chris Cooley, in an 84-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown throw to Antwaan Randle El. The drive included a fourth-and-1 converted with a pass interference penalty.
After Landry’s first interception, Collins hit Moss for a 30-yard touchdown. In the end zone, Moss held up his fingers to signify the No. 21, the jersey number for Taylor, who was shot in Miami on Nov. 26 and died a day later.
The Redskins’ defense had modest success trying to confuse Hasselbeck with multiple shifts before the snap. But the veteran quarterback was to make enough big plays to win the field position battle and put together the occasional scoring drive. He beat the blitz with a 25-yard completion to Burleson to set up a first-half field goal, and found Hackett for a 35-yard gain that led to a second-half field goal.
While they enjoyed the home-field advantage, the Seahawks didn’t get their usual home-weather advantage. Skies were menacing all day ” the Seagals did their pregame dance routine in a driving rain ” but the sun came out during the national anthem and hung around for much of the game, leaving only a strong, swirling wind to influence the game.
The wind didn’t stop Josh Brown from tying a Seahawks franchise playoff record with a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was one of only two scores in a first half in which Seattle shut out the Redskins 10-0. Fullback Leonard Weaver provided the other, a 17-yard run in which he started inside, eluded linebacker London Fletcher and then darted through open space for the right pylon. It was the first playoff touchdown for Weaver, who had only one TD on 33 carries during the regular season.
The Redskins put together their four-game winning streak by starting fast: leads of 14-0, 22-3, 25-0 and 27-3. But they punted on their first six possessions against the Seahawks and were stopped on fourth-and-1 on the seventh.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.