SEATTLE — Trent Williams, all 318 pounds of him, jumped into Perry Riley's arms. Linebackers coach Lou Spanos bear-hugged LaRon Landry from behind. Even coach Mike Shanahan cracked a smile.
When DeAngelo Hall's interception in the final moments secured the Washington Redskins' 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, eight weeks of frustration and tension released. Players and coaches spilled onto the field, their joy unrestrained.
"Now we at least have something to be happy about," said receiver Anthony Armstrong, fresh off his game-winning 50-yard touchdown catch. "The hard work has paid off."
The Redskins fought their way out of hell in front of 66,007 fans at rainy, windy CenturyLink Field. They hadn't tasted victory since Oct. 2. For weeks, they struggled to be competitive with a brand of football that bordered on unwatchable. Injuries and overall offensive ineptitude resulted in a six-game losing streak that demolished the expectations inflated by a hot start.
Sunday's win lifted their record only to 4-7, but this undermanned group proved it still has some fight left.
They scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to claw back from a 17-7 deficit. Rex Grossman threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, and rookie Roy Helu had 108 rushing yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to help them overcome two interceptions, a blocked field goal attempt and a stuffed extra-point try.
"Any time you fight back like we did, you feel good about your football team," Shanahan said.
No one inside the jubilant visitors' locker room embodied that fight more than Armstrong.
A year ago in his first NFL season, he caught 44 passes for 871 yards in 11 starts. Entering Sunday, however, Armstrong hadn't caught a pass since Oct. 23. He started twice during that span. His season totals entering Sunday's game: five catches, 47 yards and one touchdown.
That didn't matter, though, when the Redskins sent him in on third-and-19 from midfield, trailing 17-14 with 6:26 remaining.
Grossman stepped up in the pocket as Seattle's pass rush formed around him, reset and, with the wind at his back, launched a high-arcing throw toward Armstrong in the back of the end zone.
Armstrong, Washington's fastest receiver, ran underneath the ball. Cornerback Brandon Browner didn't turn in time. Armstrong jumped to compensate for his 5-inch height disadvantage and caught it in the back of the end zone.
"It's been a long, stressful kind of season, the last few weeks, especially losing and not really being able to get on track," Armstrong said. "To be able to make a play is huge."
And apparently you can't spell 'resilient' without R-E-X.
Sunday's game was a microcosm of his season. He completed 8 of 9 passes on the Redskins' opening drive, which ended with Fred Davis' 2-yard touchdown catch. Then he threw a pair of interceptions. The Seahawks scored a touchdown on the play after his first pick.
But Washington's offense has steadily improved in each of the three games since Grossman was reinstated as the starter. He pushed it over the final hurdle on Sunday.
"Our locker room has a lot of character and a lot of team chemistry, a lot of good people," Grossman said. "A lot of hard-working, tough, great football players that believe in one another. After a losing streak like this, we stepped up and made the plays we needed to make."
The touchdown on third-and-a-mile gave Washington a 20-17 lead. From there, the defense finished the type of complete team performance the Redskins have yearned for.
On the next series, they got off the field on third down with a seven-man blitz. Remember the cover-zero blitz that burned the Redskins in their Week 3 loss to Dallas? Well, this one worked, resulting in an incompletion.
Washington survived two more Seattle possessions. One ended with Brian Orakpo and Stephen Bowen's sack of Tarvaris Jackson, and one with Hall's second interception of the season.
And the Redskins, finally, flew home happy.
"It'll definitely be a little less tense on this plane," Hall said.
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