They spent a week preparing for Washington’s running game and journeyman quarterback, but on Sunday the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t stop either.
It beat them, 23-17, and afterward free safety Earl Thomas sat in his locker, stunned and angry.
“It was a tough day, we didn’t win,” Thomas said. “Everything else is out the window.”
Did the Redskins do anything that surprised Seattle?
“They just moved the ball,” Thomas said.
That they did.
Running back Roy Helu ran for 103 yards. Worse, Rex Grossman threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns as the Seahawks watched a 17-7 third-quarter lead disappear.
Defensive end Red Bryant had a big game – blocking a field goal attempt, then an extra point.
“We had the opportunity to take a step today, and we let it slip away,” Bryant said. “What’s frustrating is you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get.
“I’d say we were definitely surprised by their moving the ball – they did a good job. But the plays that hurt the most, we gave to them. We made mistakes. They turned them into a win.”
Grossman completed 26 of 35 passes and, despite two interceptions, connected with 10 different receivers. Many of the big gains from the passing game came on short swing passes and strong runs after the catch.
The play that did the Seahawks in, however, was an old-fashioned bomb – a 50-yarder to Washington’s Anthony Armstrong – that came on a third down and 19.
“I can only speak for the defense,” Thomas said. “It’s third and 20. We’ve got to get off the field.”
It was Armstrong’s only catch, but it put his team ahead, 20-17.
If Armstrong hadn’t caught the ball, Seattle would still have been in trouble because Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was called for pass interference on the play. Washington declined the penalty, kept the points.
What happened on the play?
“Rex was able to look off the safety, and Anthony made a heck of a catch,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “That was a big-time catch and throw.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll saw it a bit differently.
“We were playing in a situation where the call comes in to tell them to play ‘off’ because they’re going to throw it deep,” Carroll said. “Brandon just kind of lost track of the guy ... when the ball is flying, he turned to find him and all hell broke loose.
“He’s grabbing and doing anything he can to try to get out of that situation. It’s really not a difficult situation, it’s just something you have to do. And he didn’t do it right.”
The defense took the loss hard.
“I felt like we could have had that game. I feel like they weren’t doing anything special or real spectacular,” tackle Brandon Mebane said. “We just didn’t execute. We didn’t finish. We didn’t have a complete game today.”
It wasn’t as if the defense didn’t contribute. The Seahawks had a pair of interceptions against Grossman, and Browner’s second-quarter interception set up the TD that tied the game at 7-7.
Cornerback Richard Sherman’s pickoff in the third quarter denied a Washington threat, coming on the Seahawks’ 15-yard line.
“The defense’s job is just to try to keep creating turnovers, and we got two or three today,” Mebane said.
Bryant tried to make the best of it but didn’t sound too enthused.
“I felt like we played tough, but we came up short,” Bryant said. “We just got to make plays. Give Washington credit – they made one more play than we did today.”