LANDOVER, Maryland (Reuters) - Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson left Washington in nobody’s shadow after securing a huge road playoff win for the Seahawks on Sunday after the shakiest of starts.
Wilson won the battle of the rookie sensations when his team and its stifling defense stormed back to beat the Washington Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III, 24-14, after allowing two touchdowns in the first quarter.
“I don’t think you worry about the first quarter. You focus on the next play you have. You stay in the now,” a composed Wilson, 24, told reporters.
The Seahawks racked up 380 yards of total offense while holding the fast-starting Redskins to 203 yards - of which only 74 yards were logged in the final three quarters.
Griffin and Wilson took different paths to Sunday night’s showdown, arguably the most anticipated of the National Football League’s quartet of first-round playoff games.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor University in Texas, Griffin was the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft and joined the Redskins with high expectations that he fulfilled by leading their run of seven straight wins to reach the playoffs.
Wilson joined Seattle as the 12th pick in the third round of the draft from the University of Wisconsin - the 75th most sought-after recruit - after being written off by some teams as not tall enough at a shade under 5-foot-11 (1.80 metre).
“People always ask me if I have a chip on my shoulder because I was a third-round draft pick. If I was first pick overall or picked in the third round, where I was, I‘m blessed to be a Seattle Seahawk,” Wilson said.
The Seahawks like the underdog role, and play each week with a chip on their shoulder, Wilson added. “We have an energy that makes us want to prove ourselves each week. We can play with anyone, any time and any place.”
Seattle tight end Anthony McCoy praised the young quarterback. “He’s just very poised. It doesn’t matter if we’re down by 21 or if we’re up by 21 or something, he’s always going to be into the game. He’s always in the huddle encouraging us to be patient,” McCoy said.
For Griffin, Sunday’s loss - especially after the team’s rousing start - was made more painful by a knee injury suffered in the team’s second touchdown drive that visibly limited his mobility.
”I didn’t get hit, I just planted it wrong,“ Griffin explained. ”My knee kind of buckled on me and scared me a little bit, so I want to the sideline and got a tape job done on the knee.
The quarterback finally left the field with about six minutes to go after spending much of the game trying to assure head coach Mike Shanahan that he was fit to play.
“I talked to Robert and he said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt,'” Shanahan said. “It’s always a tough decision when to pull a guy and when not to.”
Griffin, 22, became the first quarterback born in the 1990s to start an NFL playoff game.
“We know the future is very bright. I also know what I need to work on in the off-season. Part of that is just getting healthy. The sky’s the limit for this team with the talent we have,” Griffin said.
Editing by Larry Fine and Patrick Johnston