Having stayed up until 4.30am on Monday morning and then being in work for 9.00am I can say that I made a small sacrifice (missed sleep) in order to will the Redskins to their seventh consecutive victory.
The sacrifice made by Alfred Morris the Washington Redskins outstanding rookie running back was far greater as he ground out a whopping 200 yards rushing to help his team win their division for the first time this century.
The reward for such a heroic performance is a home playoff game, the first since 1999, against a talented Seattle Seahawks team.
This is only the second time I think that two rookie quarterbacks have met in the playoffs as Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2010 goes head to head with Seattle’s young stud Russell Wilson.
I predicted Wilson to be the offensive rookie of the year, and whilst he will probably lose out to Griffin III he has had a spectacular season that has to be recognised. The Seahawks went 8-0 at home, something that teams with such a fervent home support should achieve, but rarely do.
The Redskins traded the whole farm to get RGIII at pick #2 in the 2012 draft, and despite my reluctance to not get too excited, having watched years of tepid quarterbacking in Washington, this is one man who has lived up to the hype from the moment the season started.
RGIII has run and passed his way to 10 wins in 16 games, not a record Redskins fans are familiar with. His best skill has not been his lightning runs or bullet passes, in my eyes it has been his absolute wizardry with the ball before it is passed, like David Blaine on crack, constantly confusing opponents as he hides the pigskin up his sleeve before breaking for a run, delivering an accurate play action pass or directing Alfred Morris to another 10+ yard gain.
RGIII has also done the one thing that sets him apart from any Redskins quarterback in the last decade by avoiding turnovers. Two lost fumbles and five interceptions in 15 games as a rookie is simply not normal. I can recall rookie quarterbacks committing that many turnovers in a game or two.
Seattle have Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, at lead running back, who managed 1,590 yards rushing, third best in the NFL this season. Problem is that the team he plays against on Sunday possesses the second best rusher in the league, as Alfred Morris will be fired up and ready to rock.
The ‘Hawks offensive line has two Pro Bowl starters in tackle Russel Okung and center Max Unger, whereas the Redskins have one second string Pro Bowler in the form of tackle Trent Williams.
In my opinion the Redskins center Will Montgomery should have got a Pro Bowl shout himself, as he has been a very steady and calming influence on a team that did no more than simply lead the entire NFL in team rushing.
The Seahawks and Redskins are similar in that their least glamorous part of their offenses is their receiving corps. Washington’s top two Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss barely set a 12 pack of birthday candles alight and the Seahawks Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have been average if I was to stretch it. Neither team has had an outstanding tight end performance this season, but both team’s gameplans have meant this position has been more about complex blocking assignments than 40 yard fly patterns.
On the defensive side the Seahawks have a far superior unit, but for some strange reason the Redskins 7 game winning streak has a lot to do with the Washington defense stepping up and delivering killer turnovers.
When Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo with three minutes left, and the team only up by three points, there was a collective exhaling of breath by the home fans that was enough to register as an A grade tropical storm on the Weather Channel’s wind monitoring device.
This game will not be decided by kickers, or by two of the best running teams in the league, this game will come down to one simple fact – whoever commits the fewest turnovers will win the game.
RGIII and Russell Wilson are not your typical rookie fumble-fest turnover machines. They are both coached extremely well and will be determined to show a global audience that they can move on to the next round of the dance.
I just think that home-field advantage will be enough to lift the Redskins to a narrow victory. The Seahawks are 3-5 in games away from the artificial turf and the drizzle. Not to say it won’t be raining in Landover, Maryland on Sunday night, but playing on a churned up grass surface is something that Alf and the ‘Skins are accustomed to.
I’ll say Redskins 27-20 with RGIII rushing for one score and passing for another and Russell Wilson committing an uncharacteristic turnover that will cost the Seahawks a chance to progress.
Look for the Seahawks defense to play hard for 60 minutes, but Coach Shanahan and his son errr Coach Shanahan to be prepared with play action passing and a run game more akin to a meeting of the magic circle than the diesel/counter gap running of the 1980s Redskins.
Also look out for a furry alien at Fed Ex Field – you heard it here first – its time go up into the loft and dig out your Alf dolls. It’s Alf Sunday.
Any thoughts people?