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Redskins-Seahawks: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Jan 3, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Seahawks showdown at FedExField.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Seahawks Wild Card showdown at FedExField.

“Redskins-Seahawks: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


GRIFFIN THE GREAT

The Redskins imposed their will on the Dallas Cowboys to close out the regular season, piling up 261-of-361 total yards on the ground. Rookie running back Alfred Morris was a sensation, rushing for career highs in yards (200), carries (33) and touchdowns (three), all while capping off the greatest season in Redskins' rushing history.

This is all well and good, but the Redskins need more out of Robert Griffin III and the passing game if they expect to outscore the Seattle Seahawks. Over their current five-game winning streak, the Seahakws have averaged a 27-point margin of victory and are able to score in all three facets of the game. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has tallied modest stats in those games, but the team has been able to score at will.

In order for the Redskins to keep pace, they will need a healthy and comfortable Griffin III.  The impact of his knee injury and brace has decreased in the last three weeks, but he needs to be a force in this game.

YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM/VETERAN MINDSET

The last time the Redskins were in the playoffs, the team was stocked with youngsters in their prime, including Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.

Five years later, those same players are the veteran role players on a very young team. While the veterans have provided guidance to the youngsters on the team, the Redskins' success has been keyed by outstanding rookies and first-year players like Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Kirk Cousins and Kai Forbath. If the team expects to continue their succcess in the playoffs, they need to carry the momentum from the regular season and continue the trends that have served them well.

That starts on offense, where the 2012 squad yielded a franchise-low 14 turnovers this season. Griffin III broke the rookie record for lowest percentage of passes resulting in interception (1.3 percent), breaking Charlie Batch's 1.98 percent. On the other side, the Seahawks boast the No. 4 overall defense with the top-ranked scoring defense in football. Their 18 interceptions are good for eighth in the NFL this season.

If the Redskins hope to succeed, they need to continue to play this new-look Redskins' football.

RE-ROUTE RUSSELL

The Redskins have fared well against rookie quarterbacks this season, going 3-0 against the Eagles and Browns with newbies under center. Much of that success was keyed by a strong pass rush that managed 11 sacks and forced 10 turnovers. Those two signal callers completed 74-for-129 (57 percent), as the back end of the defense played disciplined defense against lackluster receivers.

That changes this week, as Russell Wilson brings a dynamic element (489 rushing yards), and a 26:10 touchdown to interception ratio.  Wilson is a dangerous playmaker with his arm and feet, and the Redskins will need to be aggressive and disciplined on defense in order to keep him in check. The best way to do that is to make him uncomfortable early. Not many rookie quarterbacks have won in the playoffs, and far fewer have won on the road in a hostile environment.

PUT 'SPECIAL' BACK IN SPECIAL TEAMS

The Redskins have had unexpected good success on special teams this season, finding new long-term solutions at place kicker and punt returner.

Kai Forbath's run of perfection on field goal conversions to open his career goes down as the longest in NFL history (17), and his miss last week does not detract from this accomplishment. It will detract, however, if he misses any short field goals in the playoffs. Like most wins during the Redskins' winning streak, this game is likely to be close, and a missed kick in the playoffs can permanently damage a kicker's psyche and reputation. Forbath will also be leaned on for strong kickoffs to help win the battle of field position against Seahawks returner Leon Washington.

Punt returner Richard Crawford has been a gem on punt returns, making decisive cuts and consistently providing the Redskins offense with strong starting points on the field. Combined with the efforts of punter Sav Rocca, the Redskins have the tools to pin the Seahawks back deep or break open the game on special teams.

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