Rex Grossman walked to the line of scrimmage and from the pre-snap read, knew he was going to throw deep for Anthony Armstrong.
Even on third-and-19 and the Washington Redskins only needing 15 or so yards to get back into field goal range trailing by three.
”It was just a matter of time to buy enough time in the pocket for him to clear that defender and put it in a spot where he could go get it,” Grossman said.
Grossman finally came up with a game-winning TD toss and in the process snapped the Redskins’ six-game losing streak. Grossman hit Armstrong on a 50-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to give Washington the lead and the Redskins went on to stun the Seattle Seahawks 23-17 on Sunday.
Seattle led 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, then watched the lead whittled away in a hurry by Grossman, who was brilliant early, shaky in the middle and then great again in the closing minutes. Washington (4-7) snapped its longest losing streak since dropping the first seven games of the 1998 season.
The highlight was Grossman’s toss to Armstrong, who out maneuvered Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner and hauled in the pass in the corner of the end zone to give Washington a 20-17 lead with 6:18 remaining.
The touchdown came one play after Grossman was called for intentional grounding while getting driven to the turf. Grossman stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush, then unloaded his toss for Armstrong. It was Armstrong’s first catch since Week 7 at Carolina, his sixth of the season and his only one on Sunday.
”I knew Rex was going to put it up there. He has trust in me regardless of how things have been going,” Armstrong said. ”He threw a great ball and they gave me an opportunity to make a play on it.”
Grossman threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Fred Davis as part of Washington’s nearly perfect first quarter, threw a pair of interceptions in the second and third quarters, then led two touchdown drives in the fourth after Seattle took a 10-point lead. He finished 26 of 35 for 314 yards and was 7 of 9 passing in the fourth quarter.
”We have a great bunch of guys, our locker room has a lot of character and a lot of team chemistry, a lot of good people, hard worker, tough great football players that believe in one another, and after a losing streak like this we stepped up and made plays that we needed to make,” Grossman said. ”It’s a tough place to play out here in Seattle, it’s very loud, it’s been a long trip. (It’s) pretty rewarding to win especially the way we did.”
Washington also got a spark from rookie running back Roy Helu, who had the first 100-yard game of his career, running for 108 yards on 23 carries and a memorable first NFL touchdown run.
It was Helu’s 28-yard TD run with 9:51 left that sparked the Redskins rally. On third-and-3 at the Seattle 28, Helu took a quick pitch out of the shotgun, sprinted into an opening, hurdled over Seattle defensive back Roy Lewis and through the tackle attempt of safety Kam Chancellor on his way to the touchdown run.
”I (saw) that I could get around and right, I think where their DB was, was the first down marker and I just wanted to make sure I got it,” Helu said. ”I didn’t care if their safety came over and killed me in the air I just knew I was going to get that first down from forward progress … and I ended up breaking a tackle.”
Helu’s touchdown was followed by three critical holds by Washington’s defense. Seattle had consecutive three-and-outs, hampered on each drive by costly penalties. When Seattle’s defense held and forced a punt with 2:42 left, the Seahawks were backed up again by an unnecessary roughness flag on Browner during the punt.
It didn’t matter. On fourth-and-5, Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson was sandwiched by LaRon Landry and Brian Orakpo for a 9-yard sack. Graham Gano kicked a 25-yard field goal for the final margin after having a 23-yarder blocked earlier in the game.
”That was our strongest finish that we’ve had,” Washington defensive tackle Barry Cofield said.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but Seattle saw its chance at the first three-game win streak under coach Pete Carroll crumble under too many mistakes.
Jackson was 14 of 30 for 144 yards and was intercepted in the final minute by DeAngelo Hall. Along with the continued penalty problems, the Seahawks twice were forced to use timeouts because of communication problems with having the wrong personnel on the field.
Seattle was flagged nine times, while Washington had 10 penalties in a game that was chippy throughout and required the teams to be separated during the coin toss.
”Those guys, they were talking like they were Super Bowl champions,” Davis said. ”I’m looking at them like, ‘you guys almost have the same record as us.”’
The loss all but ended what little hopes the Seahawks (4-7) had of getting back into the NFC playoff picture and now the Seahawks must regroup for a home game Thursday night against Philadelphia.
”We were up by 10, with the way our defense was playing, we expect to win that game,” Jackson said. ”For them to come and score two touchdowns and for us to stall like that on offense, it’s very disappointing.”
Notes: Washington FB Darrel Young and Seattle WR Sidney Rice both left with concussions and did not return. … Seattle starting WRs Rice and Mike Williams were held without a reception. … Washington’s 172 yards of offense in the first quarter was its most in a first quarter since 1999 against Philadelphia. … Davis’ touchdown catch was the first time Washington scored a TD on its opening drive this season.