Redskins

Wilson, Seahawks top Redskins 24-14; RG3 hurt

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Wilson, Seahawks top Redskins 24-14; RG3 hurt

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Either way, a rookie quarterback was going to make it to the second round of the playoffs. The losing team would go home disappointed, but with the knowledge that its rookie did more than enough to prove that bright days are ahead.

If it only it were that tidy.

The first part still holds. Russell Wilson is indeed the last rookie QB standing in the NFL's postseason, having led the Seattle Seahawks to a 24-14 win Sunday over the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins, however, won't be completely at ease until they've learned the full extent of Robert Griffin III's latest knee injury. He kept playing hurt until he finally went down for good in the fourth quarter, and his teammates can only hope it's something that can heal completely in the offseason and not prevent RG3 from being his old self next fall.

``You know he is such a huge player in our offense,'' Washington Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said. ``And for him not to be 100 percent healthy kind of hurt us.''

Griffin was scheduled for an MRI, while Wilson and his teammates will be back on the East Coast next Sunday for a game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Seahawks have a five-game winning streak and their first road playoff win since December 1983, while the Redskins ended a seven-game winning run that gave them their first division title since 1999.

``I'm done referring to Russell as a rookie,'' Seattle receiver Golden Tate said. ``He's not playing like a rookie, doesn't act like a rookie. We're 17 games in, he's not a rookie no more.''

The Redskins feel the same about Griffin, to the point that coach Mike Shanahan gave the quarterback plenty of leeway to keep playing even when it was clear all was not well. Griffin had already been hindered in two games since spraining the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee about a month ago, and he looked especially gimpy after falling awkwardly while throwing an incomplete pass in the first quarter Sunday.

``He said, `Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,''' Shanahan said. ``I couldn't disagree with him.''

Shanahan said he'll probably second-guess himself over his decision. It was certainly open to question after Griffin's knee buckled while he was trying to field a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter. Griffin was in such pain he didn't even try to recover the loose ball. It was his last snap of the season.

``I think I did put myself at more risk,'' Griffin said. ``But every time you get on the field, you're putting yourself on the line.''

Even if Shanahan had tried to pull Griffin before that, the quarterback says he would have rebelled.

``I probably would have been right back out there on the field,'' Griffin said. ``You respect authority, and I respect coach Shanahan. But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man, sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game.''

The injury essentially clinched the outcome. The Seahawks had just taken a 21-14 lead on a 27-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch and a 2-point conversion with 7:08 remaining. It was Griffin's turn to try to drive for a tie. Instead, the fumble gave the ball right back to Seattle and set up an easy insurance field goal.

Lynch finished with 132 yards on 20 carries, and Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards. The defense recovered after digging a 14-0 first-quarter hole - Seattle's biggest deficit of the season - and held the Redskins scoreless the rest of the way.

``It was only two touchdowns, but it's still a big comeback and, in this setting and the crowd, it's a marvelous statement about the guys' resolve,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

The day began with three rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs, but Andrew Luck was eliminated when Indianapolis lost to Baltimore.

A significant concern for the Seahawks is defensive Chris Clemons, their best pass rusher, who hurt his left knee in the third quarter and did not return. He also was scheduled for an MRI.

``We're concerned about it,'' Carroll said.

The Seahawks started their rally with three consecutive scoring drives to pull within a point, 14-13, at halftime. Steven Hauschka, who injured his left calf during the first half and had to relinquish kickoff duties, nevertheless sandwiched field goals of 32 and 29 yards around a 4-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Michael Robinson.

The Seahawks controlled the second half, but one drive came up empty when Lynch fumbled at Washington's 1-yard line and another ended in a punt deep in Redskins territory rather than a long field goal attempt by an injured kicker.

Lynch finally produced the go-ahead score, however, and the Seahawks will carry on with their third-round rookie QB.

``Despite the fact that we have a `nobody' team,'' Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said, ``a team not full of first-rounders and things like that, we have a lot of guys that play at a high level.''

NOTES: Washington had 129 yards in the first quarter and 74 for the rest of the game. Griffin was 6 for 9 for 68 yards and two touchdowns after 15 minutes; he was 4 for 10 for 16 yards with one interception the rest of the way. ``It was hard to watch RG3 tonight,'' Carroll said. ``It was hard on him. He was freaking gallant.'' ... Redskins LG Kory Lichtensteiger re-injured his sprained left ankle in the first quarter. ... Redskins LT Trent Williams shoved Sherman in the face as the teams met on the field after the final whistle. ``It was a dirty move by Trent Williams,'' Sherman said. Williams took responsibility and said he acted in an ``immature manner.'' Later, Sherman tweeted that he received ``a very classy text'' message from Williams and there's ``no ill will either way.''

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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