- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

SEATTLE

Qwest Field is the best stadium in the NFL, with its views of downtown Seattle, its location hard by Puget Sound and its legendarily loud fans. But to the Washington Redskins, Qwest looked like a house of horrors into the third quarter Sunday.

The Redskins’ Super Bowl dreams ended with playoff losses here in January 2006 and January 2008 - and they might have ended again here if the Redskins had fallen to the lowly Seahawks, whom they trailed into the third quarter.

After losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys and with their next two games against the 10-1 New York Giants and 7-4 Baltimore Ravens, the Redskins’ once-sure playoff hopes could have been dealt a fatal blow. But Clinton Portis powered up to regain the NFL rushing lead and push the Redskins to a 20-17 victory. At 7-4, Washington stayed tied with Dallas and Atlanta for the sixth and final NFC playoff spot.

Q: How tough is Portis?

A: Extremely. He left the game briefly with a bad hip, but after two down games for him and the rushing attack, he and the line simply took over and willed the Redskins to a victory.

Q: At 4-1 after back-to-back victories at Dallas and Philadelphia, I made my plane reservations for the Super Bowl. I could really use that money in this economy. Any chance I’m going to get to use it?

A: Not unless the Redskins can beat the Giants or Ravens. Their last three games against Cincinnati, Philadelphia and San Francisco are winnable, but even a 10-6 record might not earn an NFC playoff spot this year.

Q: This game should have been advantage Jim Zorn since he knew Seattle so well after coaching the Seahawks’ quarterbacks the past seven years. So why didn’t the Redskins dominate one of the NFL’s worst defenses?

A: Right now, the Redskins don’t seem capable of dominating anyone. The offense’s point total for the past six games: 92.

Q: How does Greg Blache’s defense shut down the Seahawks for almost the entire first half and then allow a nine-play, 72-yard touchdown drive in the half’s final minute?

A: The prevent defense has been ugly here at least since Richie Petitbon was running the defense for Joe Gibbs during the glory days of the 1980s. If a defense can stop an offense in the first 13 minutes of a half, it makes no sense to change things up for the final two minutes.

Q: It was good finally to see Malcolm Kelly getting some significant time. Can he help the Redskins the rest of the way?

A: The much-maligned rookie receiver couldn’t break loose on a deep route against ex-Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson, nor could he beat veteran Kelly Jennings on a fade route in the end zone, but at least he’s a viable option on those patterns, unlike veterans Antwaan Randle El and James Thrash. Kelly’s emergence made fellow second-rounder Devin Thomas a forgotten man.

Q: Was that Jason Taylor I saw making tackles? I forgot he played for the Redskins.

A: The former Dolphins star said he was healthier in the loss to Dallas than he had been all year. It didn’t show on the stat sheet, but he did make a couple of early plays against the Seahawks.

Q: Since when is Seattle’s Maurice Morris a superstar running back?

A: Only on Sunday, when he had 14 carries, 103 yards and a touchdown catch.

Q: How come safety LaRon Landry intercepts passes only in Seattle?

A: That’s a weird fact. Landry has started 28 games for the Redskins, and all three of his interceptions have come in his two games at Qwest Field.

Q: What happens next week against the Giants?

A: If Brandon Jacobs returns from injury, the Giants will win. Still, remaining in playoff position - especially with three easier games to come - is important.

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