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NFL Preview - Washington (3-7) at Seattle (4-6)
By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The Washington Redskins' current six-game losing streak is the club's longest since the 1998 season, an 0-7 start that included a road loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle hasn't beaten Washington since.
Looking to win three in a row for the first time since 2007, the Seahawks hope to snap a five-game slide to the Redskins this Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
The defending NFC West champions despite a 7-9 record a season ago, Seattle is on the same win pace in 2011 with a 4-6 mark through its first 10 games. Things aren't as mediocre at the top of the division this year and the Seahawks are second, five games behind the first-place San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle has run off two straight wins since a three-game slide, breaking the skid with a solid victory over Baltimore on Nov. 13 prior to routing St. Louis by a 24-7 score last weekend. The Seahawks yielded the game's first points on a first-quarter touchdown, but kept the Rams in check the rest of the way and broke the game open on second-half touchdown runs by Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson overcame interceptions on Seattle's first two drives to put his team in position to win three in a row for the first time since a five-game win streak from Nov. 12-Dec. 9, 2007.
"We came out and played so miserable in the first quarter," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. "But what was really well done by our guys is that they did not waver. We just kept playing and you could just feel it change."
Seattle is 2-2 at home this year and will play three in a row as the host for the first time since 2004, though they went just 1-2 on that residency. This homestand could get off to a rough start given that the Seahawks haven't bested the Redskins since Sept. 20, 1998.
Washington, though, is involved in its own rut and has lost six in a row after starting the season 3-1. Two of those victories came against NFC West opponents, but the Redskins still sit last in the NFC East.
The Redskins nearly broke through with a victory last weekend versus the visiting Dallas Cowboys after Rex Grossman threw a game-tying touchdown pass to Donte' Stallworth in the final minute of regulation. Kicker Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal in overtime however, and Dallas' Dan Bailey hit a 39- yarder of his own to hand Washington a 27-24 defeat.
"I tried to put it in the back of the end zone where only he could get it and he made a great catch on it," Grossman said about his game-tying throw.
Washington hasn't won since Oct. 2 at St. Louis and is 1-4 as the road team this season.
The Redskins could also have wide receiver Santana Moss on the field for the first time since he broke his hand on Oct. 23 in Carolina. He has 25 receptions and two touchdowns on the season.
The Redskins are 10-4 all-time against the Seahawks in regular-season play and have bested Seattle five straight times in a non-playoff setting, with the most recent victory a 20-17 verdict at CenturyLink Field in 2008. Washington has also prevailed in five of six regular-season stops in Seattle, with the Seahawks' lone home win over that span a 24-14 decision at the Kingdome on Sept. 20, 1998. The Redskins also topped Seattle on the road by a 14-3 count during the 2002 campaign.
Seattle has taken both postseason matchups between the clubs, both of which were held at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks handed Washington a 20-10 loss in a 2005 NFC Divisional Playoff and also posted a 35-14 triumph over the Redskins in a 2007 First-Round clash.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has a sizeable history against Sunday's opponent, having faced the Seahawks a total of 20 times and most of those games coming as divisional matchups, as Seattle had been a member of the AFC West during much of Shanahan's tenure with both Oakland and Denver. He's gone 11-9 in those contests, producing an 11-5 mark with the Broncos and going 0-4 during his two-year stint with the Raiders from 1988-89.
Carroll has never previously opposed the Redskins as a head coach, but did go head-to-head three times with Shanahan during his tenure with New England from 1997-99. Shanahan's Broncos downed Carroll's Patriots in both 1997 and 1998, with New England beating Denver the following year.
WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL
Washington ranks 24th in total offense (312.7 YPG) and is scoring just 16.0 points per game, but got a solid effort from Grossman (1639 passing yards, 8 TD, 12 INT) last weekend in his second game since reassuming the starting role. He matched a season-high with 25 completions while totaling 292 passing yards. That was his best output since his 305 yards in Week 1 versus the Giants. Grossman also gave Washington's 30th-ranked ground game (84.0 YPG) a shot with a four-yard touchdown run, his first since Nov. 9, 2008. Stallworth (9 receptions, 1 TD), meanwhile, caught his first touchdown pass since Oct. 26, 2008, while wide receiver Jabar Gaffney (41 receptions, 3 TD) led the team with seven receptions, 115 yards while scoring a touchdown. Gaffney aims for record consecutive 100-yard performances for the first time in his career. Tight end Fred Davis (49 receptions, 2 TD) added six catches and 52 yards, upping his career-high total to 636 receiving yards. Running back Roy Helu (248 rushing yards) leads all rookie running backs with 31 receptions, but led Washington's run game last weekend with 35 carries on eight carries as the club managed only 60 yards total on the ground. With Tyler Polumbus stepping in at left guard last weekend for the injured Maurice Hurt, marking Washington's fifth starting offensive line combination of the season.
Seattle's defense was led by an outstanding effort from defensive end Chris Clemons (28 tackles, 8 sacks), who recorded three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to take home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Clemons ended with five tackles and a pass defensed for a Seahawks defense that ranks 11th overall (333.0 YPG) and eight against the ground (100.0 YPG). Massive defensive end Red Bryant (21 tackles, 1 sack), a key cog in that run defense, came with up with his first career interception and linebacker Leroy Hill (61 tackles, 2 sacks) had a sack, one of the five Seattle was credited with on the day to up its season total to 19. Rookie cornerback Richard Sherman (28 tackles, 1 INT) led the way with five tackles, while safeties Earl Thomas (67 tackles) and Kam Chancellor (59 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT) had four each, as did linebacker David Hawthorne (65 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT). Seattle's defense, which shut out St. Louis for three quarters, has allowed just 60 points in the second half this year, giving up five touchdowns. Overall, the Seahawks are giving up 20.9 points per game.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL
With Jackson (1921 passing yards, 7 TD, 11 INT) struggling early last week, the Seahawks went to their 27th-ranked ground game (95.1 YPG) and Carroll was rewarded with 126 yards on 39 carries. Lynch (595 rushing yards, 6 TD) led the way with 88 yards and scored a touchdown in his sixth straight game, the first to do that for the Seahawks since Shaun Alexander in 2005. Lynch has 332 rushing yards in his past three games, while Forsett chipped in with 31 yards on four carries, including a 22-yard score. Jackson, meanwhile, was able to find Sidney Rice (32 receptions, 2 TD) for a touchdown pass in the second quarter after his early interceptions and threw for 148 yards. He was also sacked four times as Seattle has lost rookie starters John Moffitt and James Carpenter at right guard and tackle, respectively, due to knee injuries. Rice and rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin (32 receptions, 2 TD) had three catches each, with Baldwin racking up 60 yards to up his NFC rookie-leading total to 544. Mike Williams (14 receptions, 1 TD) made just two catches, but one was a 55-yard pass from Rice. In all, nine different receivers caught a pass.
Though the Redskins 10th-ranked pass defense (221.4 YPG) came up with four sacks versus the Cowboys, the unit also saw quarterback Tony Romo throw for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Washington goes against a less-talented passer in this game, though Jackson has the speed to avoid a Redskins pass rush that has notched an NFL high-tying 31 sacks. Linebacker London Fletcher (96 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 INT) had a monster game versus Dallas with a game-high 16 tackles along with a sack and forced fumble, while rookie Ryan Kerrigan (44 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT) also got to the quarterback and ranks second among NFC rookies in sacks. Kerrigan has four sacks in his last three games. Defensive end Stephen Bowen (23 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Adam Carriker (16 tackles, 5 sacks) have both set career highs in sacks this year, with Bowen upping his total versus Dallas. With safety LaRon Landry (44 tackles) unable to play due to an Achilles injury, rookie DeJon Gomes (18 tackles) made his first career start and responded with 13 tackles, while cornerback DeAngelo Hall (64 tackles, 1 INT) had 11. Former Seahawk Josh Wilson (41 tackles) is questionable for this game with a hamstring issue.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Lynch is in full beast mode and Washington will need linebackers Kerrigan, Fletcher and Brian Orakpo to try and contain the streaking back. The talent is certainly there for the Redskins, but Lynch appears to be getting stronger as the season goes on.
The Redskins are one of the best in the league at getting to the quarterback, which may result in Jackson tucking the ball and running quite a few times. Carroll, though, needs to make sure his quarterback doesn't get happy feet and still takes his shots down the field.
Grossman has put together some solid efforts over the past two weeks and has had past success versus the Seahawks. He has won two of this three starts against them, including a 2006 Divisional playoff meeting that vaulted his Chicago Bears into the Super Bowl.
The Redskins are in the midst of a miserable stretch and last week's close miss had to be a heartbreaker. Points are at a premium for both Washington and Seattle this year, which could give the edge to Seattle's better defense. Expect a lot of Lynch to keep the pressure off of Jackson, while the Seahawks' run defense will put Washington's chances squarely in Grossman. A returning Moss could help, but likely won't be enough to get a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 17, Redskins 10
11/25 17:15:03 ET