Seahawks, Ravens Reach Second Round of NFL Playoffs With Wins
The Seattle Seahawks rounded out the field for the second round of the National Football League playoffs by erasing a 14-point deficit and winning on the road in the postseason for the first time since 1983.
The Seahawks rallied for a 24-14 victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday, when they scored 24 straight points after Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III aggravated a knee injury.
The Seahawks were the only visiting team to win during the wild-card round, as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 yesterday after home victories the previous day by the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers.
Seattle (12-5) advances to play the Atlanta Falcons (13-3), the top seed in the National Football Conference, on Jan. 13 and are listed as 2-point underdogs, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book.
The San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) host the Packers (12-5) the day before for a spot in the NFC Championship Game, with the 49ers favored by three points.
The home teams are bigger second-round favorites in the American Football Conference.
The Ravens (11-6) are 9-point underdogs for their Jan. 12 matchup against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (13-3), who ended the regular season with an 11-game winning streak to earn the AFC’s top seed and a opening-week playoff bye.
The Texans (13-4) are also 9-point underdogs as they visit the New England Patriots (12-4) on Jan. 13.
The teams favored by oddsmakers won all four games during the wild-card round, as Seattle was the only road favorite.
The conference champions advance to the Super Bowl, which is scheduled for Feb. 3 at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Griffin, who had the highest rookie quarterback rating in NFL history this season, threw touchdown passes to Evan Royster and Logan Paulsen yesterday as the Redskins took a 14-0 lead.
On the second score, Griffin aggravated a knee injury sustained Dec. 9 and the Redskins offense was outgained 371-74 in total yardage the rest of the way. Griffin, who sat out a Dec. 16 game in Cleveland before returning, left the game with 6:19 left in the fourth quarter when his knee buckled as he unsuccessfully tried to grab a low shotgun snap.
The fumble led to a field goal and a 10-point lead for the Seahawks, who had lost eight straight road playoff games.
“We weathered the storm, the crowd, the situation, the setting,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Guys stayed focused and started putting the game in order.”
Lynch finished with 132 rushing yards on 20 carries for Seattle, while rookie quarterback Russell Wilson completed 15- of-26 passes for 187 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown throw to Michael Robinson with 4:45 left in the second quarter.
The game was the second in NFL history to feature a pair of rookie starting quarterbacks, though after the first quarter Griffin didn’t resemble the player who helped Washington finish the season with a seven-game winning streak and capture its first division title since 1999. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 68 yards in the first quarter and then was 4-of-11 for 16 yards over his final 2 1/2 quarters.
Griffin remained down on the field for several minutes after his injury before walking off slowly and acknowledging cheers from the home crowd. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said after the game that he wouldn’t have let Griffin play if there was risk of further injury to his sprained knee ligament.
“My job is to be out there if I can play,” Griffin said at a news conference. “The only time I couldn’t play is when I went down and I took myself out of the game. I don’t think me being out there hurt the team in any way.”
The Seahawks have now won their past three playoff meetings against the Redskins.
The Ravens never trailed at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, in extending Ray Lewis’s playing career for at least one more game. The All-Pro linebacker and his defensive teammates limited the Colts to three field goals while forcing rookie quarterback Andrew Luck into a pair of turnovers.
Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was on the field with the offense for the final play as the Ravens knelt down to run out the final seconds. He then did a dance at midfield, celebrated with his teammates and took a lap around the field that he said was inspired by the way Cal Ripken Jr. similarly acknowledged fans following his final Major League Baseball game in Baltimore in 2001.
“It got emotional,” said Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowl nominee and former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. “There’s no greater reward than for me to take my last victory lap. We have a vision. We’re not trying to end here. This is just my last game ever playing in Ravens Stadium.”
Vonta Leach put Baltimore ahead for good with a 2-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds left in the first half, while Joe Flacco threw two second-half scoring passes.
Flacco completed 12-of-23 passes for 282 yards for the Ravens, while Ray Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce combined to rush for 173 yards on 28 carries.
The Colts finished with 25 first downs and 419 yards of offense -- to Baltimore’s 441 -- yet were held to three field goals by Adam Vinatieri, the all-time leading scorer in playoff history. Luck completed 28-of-54 passes for 288 yards in his playoff debut, with one interception and a lost fumble.
“We moved the ball, we did some great things, but we weren’t able to get the chunk plays and capitalize on some situations,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “They made the plays when they had to and we didn’t.”
While Pagano was on the Colts’ sideline for the second straight week after missing 12 games this season following his diagnosis for a treatable form of leukemia, the team was without offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Pagano said after the game that Arians is in “good shape” after being hospitalized earlier in the day because of dizzy spells.
The Ravens’ victory avenges losses to the Colts (11-6) in their previous two playoff meetings -- in the second round after the 2009 season and at the same stage three years earlier.