After picking apart the Seahawks defense on its first two drives, the Washington offense hit a wall when its quarterback reinjured his knee late in the first quarter.
LANDOVER, Md. — During the first quarter of Sunday’s NFC wild-card game, it looked like Washington’s offense would rout the Seahawks.
Two drives produced two touchdowns in the first 15 minutes, handing Washington a comfortable 14-0 lead. Led by quarterback Robert Griffin III, the team powered to 129 total yards and nine first downs.
From the second quarter on, however, the offense sputtered, picking up only 74 yards and six first downs over the final 45 minutes.
“Those first few drives we drove it down and got good points,” Griffin told reporters after the game. “And 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. I don’t think it was entirely the Seahawks’ defense. I thought they played extremely well. I just think we didn’t execute as much as we did the first two drives.”
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Said running back Alfred Morris: “We came out and set the tone, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
A pivotal moment during the second touchdown drive may have triggered the collapse.
Griffin, who entered Sunday’s game nursing a knee injury he suffered Dec. 9, appeared to aggravate it again before his second touchdown pass in the first quarter. Rolling to his right, Griffin couldn’t find wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the end zone, and he tumbled out of bounds.
“I just planted wrong when I tried to throw back,” Griffin said. “My knee kind of buckled on me, scared me a little bit. I went to the sideline, got a tape job done on the knee and I was fine after that until the very end of the game.”
Despite his insistence — and going on to throw the second touchdown of the game two plays later — Griffin was clearly not at his explosive best after that, noticeably favoring his knee. He looked in obvious pain on a couple of running plays and wasn’t as accurate as usual — completing only 4 of 10 passes the rest of the game after starting 6 of 9.
“We weren’t the same team, there’s no question about it,” coach Mike Shanahan said of how Washington played after Griffin’s injury.
It didn’t help that Garcon, one of Griffin’s favorite targets and the team’s leader in reception yards, left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Griffin remained in the game until late in the fourth quarter. His knee buckled again on a botched snap that the Seahawks recovered with just over six minutes left. After that sequence, backup Kirk Cousins came in for Washington’s final two drives.