SEATTLE — It all happened so fast.
The Seattle Seahawks had victory in their hands. Despite a truck load of mistakes and missed opportunities, with 94 seconds remaining all they had to do was keep Washington out of the end zone from 70 yards away and it would be over.
And there was no reason to think it wouldn’t happen. None whatsoever.
The Seahawks defense had been brilliant all day, absolutely sensational.
But Washington landed its two best shots of the day on consecutive plays to steal an improbable 17-14 victory in an NFL game Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
It was a gut punch from an opponent the Seahawks (5-3) should have finished off well before the final minute.
“I thought we did exceptional today,” Seattle safety Bradley McDougald said, “outside of that last drive.”
There will never be a more accurate summary of a defensive performance.
Washington (4-4) took the field with 1:34 remaining at its own 30-yard line trailing 14-10 and needing a touchdown to win.
To that point, Washington had 174 yards of total offense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had been sacked six times. Seven of Washington’s previous 12 possessions failed to produce a first down, and Washington’s longest play was 23 yards.
It was inconceivable that the visitors would march down the field to a game-winning touchdown.
Indeed, on first down, Cousins’ pass was tipped at the line by Dwight Freeney, who had a monster day in his second game as a Seahawk with two sacks.
But on second down, a moment before he was crushed by Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, Cousins lofted the ball perfectly down the right sideline to Brian Quick, who had just a half step on Justin Coleman and Kam Chancellor.
It was a gain of 31 yards to the Seattle 39-yard line.
“The protection was a little loose, so I really didn’t get a chance to see it,” Cousins said, trying to be kind to his offensive line. “I just threw it to a spot and got hit, and then you’re just kind of waiting for a reaction, trying to look through guys’ legs on the ground to see what happened.”
OK. No big deal. They still had 39 yards to go.
But on the very next play, Cousins, again under pressure, placed another bullseye down the left sideline to Josh Doctson, who had a step on rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin and made a diving catch at the 1.
“(Head coach) Jay (Gruden) had said if you get press man, give him a go ball,” Cousins said. “So we gave him a hand signal and he took off. I put it out there pretty far, and he went and got it.”
On the next play, Washington running back Rob Kelley plowed into the end zone over left guard for the game-winning touchdown.
Just like that.
Seventy yards, which was 29 percent of Washington’s total offense for the day.
It took just 59 seconds for another hallmark performance by a legendary defense to become a heart-breaking loss.
“We got back on the field,” Seattle defensive end Frank Clark said. “We had our chance to stop them and we didn’t stop them. It’s as simple as that.”
Seattle defenders were quick to praise Cousins for standing tall all day despite taking 11 hits and for the throws he made on the decisive series.
He finished the day with 21 completions in 31 attempts for 247 yards.
“We got pressure on the quarterback,” Bennett said. “We were in his face. We smacked him on both of those plays.”
“Those guys get paid as well,” Freeney said. “They’re great players and sometimes they make great plays. Hats off to what they did on that last drive.”
Freeney, a 16-year veteran who has 2.5 sacks in two games with Seattle and is 17th in NFL history with 125.5 for his career, said it would be wrong to make too much of the loss.
“Whoever said you’re going to win every game in the National Football League?” he said. “For me, sometimes you learn a lot from losses. Sometimes in wins, you gloss over things because you won.
“I’ve always said that, so all I’m telling these guys is that you need get back to the grind. You need to get back to the basics. Losses come,” he said.
“That was a great drive for the Redskins on the other side,” Freeney said. “They had two amazing catches. I mean, hats off to them.”
Still, it shouldn’t have come to that.
“We didn’t seize the moment with things we should have done earlier,” Freeney said. “We killed ourselves with penalties and things of that nature and they seized the moment and they did what they had to.”
Or, as coach Pete Carroll put it when asked about his defense:
“I thought they played great football,” he said.
“And then the last thing.”