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Jackson sparks win
Question of the Day
SEATTLE -- Darrell Jackson lingered in the training room long after his Seahawks had bounced the Washington Redskins from the playoffs 20-10 yesterday. The 6-foot receiver, who missed 10 games this season with a knee injury, needed treatment for a back injury he suffered in the closing minutes of the first quarter.
But the hour-long session of medical attention paled in comparison to that Jackson received on the field. Jackson had nine catches for 143 yards and a score to help the Seahawks capture their first playoff victory since 1984.
"They were crowding us pretty good," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said of the Redskins secondary. "So I told the guys we're going to have to stretch it a little bit more than we normally do."
Jackson did most of the stretching, hauling in three passes of 29 yards or more. The back injury that Jackson suffered while blocking on a run to the outside seemed to hinder him little.
It was exactly the kind of performance the Seahawks needed to cover for the loss of leading rusher Shaun Alexander. The league MVP suffered a concussion with 4:54 left in the opening quarter and did not return.
Holmgren said his star back likely would return next week for the Seahawks' NFC Championship game against the winner of today's Chicago Bears-Carolina Panthers matchup.
"There are grades of concussions," Holmgren said. "I think if I showed him a picture of a truck, he would say it's a truck and not a butterfly."
Rather than test that theory on the sideline, Holmgren turned first to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, challenging the seven-year veteran to carry an expanded load.
Holmgren delivered no such speech to Jackson.
"They're different personalities," he said. "I don't have to do the same things with Darrell that I do with Matt."
Jackson's exploits began long before Alexander's premature exit. He reeled in a 6-yard catch on the game's opening play and squirted down the right sideline for another 37 yards two plays later.
The production continued thereafter. Jackson's 29-yard touchdown grab with 3:22 left in the first half gave Seattle its first lead.
Others emerged to help make up for the loss of Alexander. Rushers Maurice Morris and Mack Strong combined for 89 yards on 21 carries.
Strong's 32-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter, a career-long for the Pro Bowl fullback, helped set up a 31-yard field goal that put the game out of reach.
"My play was just one of many that were made by a lot of different players," Strong said.
Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck said: "I told him afterwards, 'Shoot, back in '96 you probably would have scored on that play.'"
Tobeck and much of the Seahawks offensive line joked casually in the locker room afterward, the loss of Alexander having not prevented them from opening holes.
The defensive line raised its play as well, holding Clinton Portis to just 41 yards on 17 carries. The Redskins managed only 59 rushing yards.
Defensive end Bryce Fisher's sack of Mark Brunell on fourth-and-13 in the third quarter stalled Washington's most time-consuming drive of the game.
"We felt like our defense had been playing well to start with and we were going to have to take it on our shoulders," Fisher said of the reaction with Alexander left. "All of us said that we have to step up. The defense has to make a play because our offense isn't going to be hitting on all cylinders."
Jackson helped make sure the offense hit enough -- even without the league's leading rusher.
"He's one of our greatest players, and captain, and MVP of the league. And all of a sudden, early in the football game, you lose him," Holmgren said. "So there was a reaction, but I think it was a pretty normal reaction. Then you snap out of it, and you get going."
By Matt Kibbe
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