for this game

Seahawks hold off Redskins with late rally

Jan 6, 2008 - 3:26 AM
SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Down the stretch, Todd Collins was nearly flawless in leading the Washington Redskins' surprising run to the playoffs. But the career backup finally made a critical mistake.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant's 78-yard interception for a touchdown with 5:38 remaining sealed the Seattle Seahawks' 35-14 wild card victory over the Redskins on Saturday.

Trufant's score came just one play and 28 seconds after Matt Hasselbeck's 20-yard TD strike to D.J. Hackett and conversion pass to Marcus Pollard gave the Seahawks a 21-14 lead.

Seattle's win set up a meeting next Saturday with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, where Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren will face his former team.

"Green Bay is a special place," said Holmgren, who led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. "We're very excited about the opportunity. We know the challenges better than most."

During their four-game winning streak, the Redskins believed they were being aided by the spirit of the late Sean Taylor, who died on November 27 after being shot during a burglary at his home.

Even after his death, Taylor was listed as Washington's starter at free safety on the team's depth chart and for awhile Saturday, it almost appeared as if the Redskins were getting help from a higher power.

For nearly three quarters Saturday, the Redskins generated little offense and trailed, 13-0. They punted on their first six possessions and crossed midfield only once in the first half.

But Washington scored a pair of touchdowns in the first 2:22 of the fourth quarter to grab a 14-13 lead.

"We thought over the last few weeks that things might be in the cards for us," Collins said. "I thought they were turning that way early in the fourth quarter when he took the lead."

The Redskins' first break came when Seattle safety Brian Russell was called for interference on Collins' 4th-and-1 pass from the Seahawks' 17. That penalty led to Collins' 7-yard TD strike to Antwaan Randle El on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Just two plays later, Washington safety LaRon Landry picked off Hasselbeck at the Seahawks' 42. The Redskins needed only three plays to take the lead on Collins' 30-yard TD pass to Santana Moss.

With the crowd at Qwest Field suddenly silent, the Redskins got yet another break on the ensuing kickoff. The ball took an odd bounce over the head of return man Nate Burleson into the hands of Washington's Anthony Mix at Seattle's 14.

But Washington's magic may have run out when Shaun Suisham missed a 30-yard field goal wide right.

"I am always hesitant about one play," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, when asked in Suisham's missed field goal was the turning point of the game. "I never put it on somebody or one play, because there are a lot of different plays in a football game."

The Redskins got back the ball on Landry's second interception of the fourth quarter but Washington was forced to punt after picking up one first down.

This time, Hasselbeck responded with the Seahawks' season possibly on the line, finding Burleson for 15 yards before hitting Hackett over the middle for the go-ahead score.

"We had been struggling a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "We wanted a touchdown. (Holmgren) got real aggressive with the play calls and we were able to move the ball downfield."

The 36-year-old Collins, who had gone 10 years between starts, led the Redskins to a 4-0 record after starter Jason Campbell went down with a season-ending knee injury.

On Saturday, he became the second-oldest quarterback since 1960 to make his first playoff start.

After a 40-yard kickoff return by Rock Cartwright gave the Redskins a first down at their 45, Collins lofted a poorly thrown pass deep on the right sideline. It floated into the hands of Trufant and the Pro Bowl safety raced untouched down the sideline for the clinching score.

"I waited and waited for the ball to come down and it finally did," Trufant said. "The guys were blocking for me all over the place and it was just a good play."

"I never saw it," said Moss, who was the intended receiver on the play. "I just thought it was a dead play. I see the guy (Trufant) catch the ball like a punt out of nowhere."

Collins threw a second interception in the final minute that Jordan Babineaux took back 57 yards for another TD.

"I think that you couldn't ask much more from Todd's performance for the five games he was in," Gibbs added. "He brought us back to a point where he had a chance to win the game."

Collins finished 29-of-50 for 266 yards, with Randle El catching 10 passes for 94 yards. However, Seattle held Clinton Portis to just 52 yards rushing on 20 carries.

The Seahawks grabbed 10-0 halftime lead on Leonard Weaver's 17-yard TD run and Josh Brown's 50-yard field goal. Brown added a 33-yarder in the third quarter to make it 13-0.