By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
WASHINGTON — Facing the top rushing team in the league, the Seattle Seahawks found a way to slow down Washington’s talented duo of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris.
Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Redskins averaged a league-high 169.3 yards a contest.
And through the first quarter Washington looked as good as advertised, as the Redskins repeatedly beat the Seahawks with outside zone running plays.
Morris had 49 yards on eight carries in the first quarter, but he only totaled 31 more yards the rest of the game.
The Seahawks held Washington to 104 total rushing yards.
“They just were running a little bit of a different scheme than we expected,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “They were going more outside. In previous games they had played more zone read stuff up the middle. And that’s great coaching by (Washington head coach Mike) Shanahan and those guys.”
Added Seattle safety Earl Thomas: “We weren’t expecting that tempo. The running back was doing a great job of gaining yards, and running well behind his pads — being very physical. And the quarterback was doing a great job of navigating them down the field. But once we caught onto that, we were able to get the win.”
The much-anticipated matchup between Griffin and Seattle’s Russell Wilson never really materialized. The Seahawks held Griffin to 10-of-19 passing for 84 yards, sacking him twice. Griffin did finish with two passing touchdowns, but only had 21 yards on the ground.
Griffin posted a 77.5 passer rating, and gave way to second stringer Kirk Cousins after re-injuring his knee.
“The Seahawks have a good defense, period,” Griffin said. “We have a good offense. Those first few drives, we drove it down and got good points. After that some of our drives stymied, whether it was a penalty here or there, or a negative play here or there, it was just an unfortunate day.”
The Seahawks did a good job of pressuring the passer. Defensive tackle Alan Branch finished with five tackles and a sack, and rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin had a sack, two quarterback hurries and a pass deflection.
“We were just ready to play hard,” Branch said. “It’s playoff time. We don’t care who we’re playing. It could be RGIII, Cousins. It could be the janitor. It doesn’t matter.”
Irvin picked up the slack in the second half when fellow defensive end Chris Clemons went down with a knee injury. Irvin could be playing more snaps next week, with Clemons’ status for the Atlanta game up in the air.
“Everybody in the defensive line room knows that he’s a great player,” Branch said about Irvin.
“He can play the run just as well as he can play the pass. He just went out there and proved it to everybody else. We already knew.”