- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2017

SEATTLE — Just 35 seconds. That’s all that mattered in the end to close a day of little offense, long grinds and unaesthetic play. A mere 35 seconds.

That’s what it took for Kirk Cousins to put the Redskins into the end zone when they seemed done. Seattle had scored late, Cousins had just 1:34 to work with during an otherwise mediocre day, and a 14-10 deficit to deal with. He stood at the Redskins’ 30-yard line.

Cousins completed a 31-yard pass to Brian Quick. A 38-yard completion to Josh Doctson up the sideline followed. Doctson crashed down at the 1-yard line, stunning the CenturyLink Field crowd, and flipping the game’s outcome. Rob Kelley ran it in from inside 1-yard line. Washington (4-4) left Seattle with a 17-14 win after a final defensive stand Sunday. It took 35 seconds to score the winning touchdown. The short span could change the season.

“Guys out here battling, fighting, down to the last second,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. “Can’t get better than that. That’s what team is all about. That’s what winning is all about.”

Seattle had just 59 seconds to score following Kelley’s second touchdown of the day. A final heave from Russell Wilson dropped toward the end zone where self-professed “old man” DeAngelo Hall, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list this week, stood near 6-foot-7 Seattle tight end, Jimmy Graham and 6-foot-6 receiver Tanner McEvoy. Hall knocked down the ball shoving back what seemed the inevitable just a few minutes prior. The Seahawks have longed play tight games because of their defense-first style. But, Sunday, the Redskins smashed back with a group filled by replacement parts. They moved to .500 with the road win in the league’s loudest places. Safety D.J. Swearinger didn’t pass of the significance of the win.

“A lot of guys banged up, next-man up mentality, hostile environment, playing a team that won the game last-minute last week,” Swearinger said. “We got a lot of things at stake, man. We come in to get a victory the way we did, it gives our team a lot of confidence.”

That mayhem came long after a sluggish first three quarters. Seattle kicker Blair Walsh closed the first half with his third missed field goal of the day. He produced no points despite windless weather and coming into the game 12-for-13 this season. The nine possible points he left behind assured Washington’s halftime lead of a mere and odd 7-2, and were paramount later.

Kelley’s first touchdown was the lone offensive score of the half. It came with 2:52 to play in the second quarter behind two backups. Kelley ran in behind left tackle T.J. Clemmings and left guard Arie Kouandjio, who were part of the replacements for Washington’s four missing offensive linemen. They were flanked by two tight ends, one of which was also a backup. Kelley’s 1-yard touchdown closed a 13-play, 71-yard drive.

It also put Washington in front. Seattle could only muster points from linebacker Bobby Wagner finding a clear path toward Cousins on a delayed blitz. Wagner crunched Cousins to the ground just in front of the Seahawks logo in the south end zone. The two points appeared more of a start than the lone scoring of the half. But, they were all the Seahawks could come up with because of consistent pressure from the Redskins’ defensive front that had Wilson winding his way away from tacklers, struggling to find clear passing lanes and under persistent pressure in the half.

Wilson’s greatest threat is his ability to peel away from the pocket, then pull apart a defense amid a scramble drill. Receivers’ patterns become unpredictable, as does Wilson’s direction. The Redskins handled that quandary throughout the first two quarters. Wilson’s quarterback rating at halftime was just 39.2.

Wilson was further harassed through the third quarter. Redskins linebacker Zach Brown hit him and most everything else throughout the day. Wilson caused a few problems with scrambles, but he also missed two deep passes by under-throwing open receivers. Another 15 minutes elapsed without the Redskins allowing offensive points.

Washington, of course, was doing little offensively itself. Cousins was hit often while he tried to find time and reads behind the rarely used offensive linemen in front of him. The Redskins mustered a 28-yard field from Nick Rose in their first possession of the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Seattle had 262 total yards. Washington just 128. Yet, the lead had expanded — modestly — to 10-2.

“If [the defense] hadn’t stood up so well, play in and play out, that game could have gotten away from us,” Cousins said.

The Seahawks started to find space in the fourth.

Wilson flipped a pass into the flat for a 10-yard touchdown to tight end Luke Willson with 11:48 to play. Seattle, down 10-8 afterward, attempted a two-point conversion. Wilson’s slant pass was intercepted, repeating a vision that has haunted the Pacific Northwest since 2016. The stakes Sunday were much lower, though the play remained crucial in this 60 minutes.

The touchdown pulled Seattle to a place where Walsh could give them the lead if the defense stalled the Redskins again. It did, forcing a punt and setting a chance for a final dramatic drive from Seattle. The Redskins’ defense, so stout for so long Sunday, needed to find one more way to stifle Wilson, who is doing a solo dragging of the Seahawks’ offense more than ever this season.

A completion to Graham pulled the Seahawks to the Redskins’ 41-yard line with 1:52 to play. Wilson scrambled for 11 yards to the 30-yard line with 1:40 to play. Then a loft to Doug Baldwin produced a 30-yard touchdown, undoing all that Redskins defensive work — temporarily.

“It’s one of those, like [expletive],” Ziggy Hood said of Seattle taking the lead.

Out came Cousins. He had 1:34 to work with. He needed just 35 seconds.

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