Landover, Md. — Facing the top rushing team in the league, the Seattle Seahawks found a way to slow down the Washington Redskins’ talented duo of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris.
Heading into the contest Sunday, the Redskins averaged a league-high 169.3 yards a contest.
And through the first quarter, Washington looked as good as advertised, with the Redskins repeatedly beating the Seahawks with outside zone running plays.
Morris had 49 yards on eight carries in the first quarter, but he totaled only 31 yards more 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 (his assistants).”
Added Seahawks 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 on to that, we were able to get the win.”
The much-anticipated matchup between Griffin and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, a fellow rookie quarterback, never really materialized. The Seahawks held Griffin to 84 yards passing on 10 of 19 accuracy, sacking him twice. Griffin had two short touchdown passes, but had only 21 yards on the ground.
Griffin posted a 77.5 passer rating, and gave way to second-stringer Kirk Cousins after re-injuring his right 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 RG3, 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 playoff game at Atlanta uncertain.
“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.”
This was the first time three rookie quarterbacks made starts in a single NFL postseason.
A look at how Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck fared Sunday: