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He went on to detail in lurid terms the Hobbesian loutishness of the average Redskins fan: drunk, angry and prone to violence. He summoned to mind the Kelly family Christmases of my childhood and the inevitable moment when charades went terribly wrong.
It’s been a season spent trying to tamp down the key attraction of football — aggression. Be honest. Do you understand how the hit-to-the-head or defenceless-player fouls work any more? It just seems like every time a guy gets drilled over the middle, a flag is thrown. Listen, if the game were meant to be played that way, they’d all be carrying flags.
The ’Skins proved two things in losing 24-14 to the Seahawks — you are exactly as good as your quarterback; and your quarterback is exactly as good as the stability of his joints.
Robert Griffin III arrived on a gimpy right knee, sprained four weeks ago. He looked half-speed to begin with, which is cheetah-like compared with most of his colleagues.
He engineered two touchdown drives to begin the game. On the third trip downfield, only 12 minutes into the game, Griffin fled the pocket. His customary ease was suddenly a stuttering retreat toward the sideline. He collapsed awkwardly once he got there. When he got up, he was limping badly.
There was a great deal more to come, but that was the game. Griffin and his remarkable read-option ability engineered 135 yards of team offence on those first two drives. Washington would manage only 68 more throughout the rest of the game.
In the fourth quarter, now trailing after a workmanlike Seattle fightback, the ball was spiked back to Griffin in the shotgun. Attempting to gather it up as it skittered between his legs, his right knee gave way. He went down in a writhing heap. That was the end of Griffin’s night.
Washingtonians — even the sober ones — were obviously projecting well beyond one playoff loss. Two of the trending topics on Twitter near game’s end were “Dr. Andrews,” meaning Maryland-based knee-whisperer Dr. James Andrews, who’d cast pre-game doubt on whether Griffin should be starting; and “Boobie Miles,” the high-school peacock from Friday Night Lights who blows out his knee and suffers a fate worse than death in Texas — the end of his football career.
You get the horrible feeling the key storyline of the playoffs is already behind us, and you hope you’re wrong. Griffin has it in him to become the most electric athlete on the continent. If that’s been undone by injury, ’Skins coach Mike Shanahan might consider retiring to a monastery. Unlike at FedEx Field, they don’t let the brothers beat the sin out of you.
Beyond Griffin, the eye was drawn to his quieter, less-heralded doppelganger, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson’s overriding contribution to the game was his sense of calm. Even when down early, he continued handing the ball off to human snowplow Marshawn Lynch, trusting the easy-does-it approach.
On the go-ahead score, which came late in the third, Lynch was doing his usual circus strongman thing — seeking out contact, and then attempting to drag all that contact down the field on his back. By the time the tailback was in sight of the end zone, Wilson had sprinted ahead of him, throwing a crucial block.
“Marshawn’s always saying he has my back. I wanted to show him I have his back, too,” Wilson said afterward, which is a little foolish and a lot more admirable.
It was Seattle’s first playoff road win since 1983. If you have any sense, you’re hoping for more.
The first three games this weekend (with a small, perfunctory nod toward the strategic insouciance Green Bay directed at flailing Minnesota) were crushing bores. All three games unfurled like slops being thrown from a window. The Houston-Cincinnati game in particular felt like a cruel sociology experiment — “Are you sure you like football? Really? Well, do you like football when it looks like . . . this?”
On Sunday night, from start to finish — when Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Washington’s Trent Williams came to blows during the handshakes — ’Skins-’Hawks was the sorbet that washed the taste of the first course out of our mouths.
Now we’re ready for something served rare and bloody.
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