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From coast to coast, rookie QBs can boast

Washington's Robert Griffin III and Seattle's Russell Wilson, both first-year NFL quarterbacks, will face off in an NFC wild-card game Sunday.

January 05, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • It didn't take long for Robert Griffin III to make the transition from Heisman Trophy winner at Baylor to NFL star with the Redskins. He faces another rookie in his first playoff game.
It didn't take long for Robert Griffin III to make the transition from… (Susan Walsh / Associated…)

We might never look at the term “rookie quarterback” the same way, and the two signal-callers in this matchup are partly the reason for that.

At center stage in this game are Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, first-year quarterbacks who are not caretakers but offensive stars who set the pace for their respective teams.

Griffin was taken second overall, but Wilson, a third-round pick, was a surprise starter coming out of training camp, having won the Seahawks’ job over highly touted free agent Matt Flynn.

Wilson and Griffin are the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to finish the season with passer ratings of 100 or higher. Griffin had a rating of 102.4, and Wilson was at 100.0, with Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger the next closest at 98.1 in 2004.

“The excitement about Robert Griffin has all been documented,” Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said this week. “He’s real, and he’s a fantastic football player, he’s a great kid, he’s an incredible leader and they built the team around him. They were committed to Robert right from the beginning. They knew what they were doing.

“We weren’t. We didn’t know.”

Over the course of the season, however, it became abundantly clear that Carroll’s gamble was the right move.

“He’s allowed us to do everything we can think of,” Carroll said of Wilson. “We trust him in everything we’re calling. It doesn’t matter what play it is, what concept it is, we trust him to be able to handle it.”

Almost deep-sixed

The Redskins have won seven in a row and are the fifth team in NFL history to advance to the playoffs after a 3-6 start.

The other teams in NFL history to qualify for the postseason after a 3-6 start:

CINCINNATI, 1970, 8-6, Divisional round

NEW ENGLAND, 1994, 10-6, Wild-card round

DETROIT, 1995, 10-6, Wild-card round

JACKSONVILLE, 1996, 9-7, AFC championship

You’re grounded

Yes, the rookie quarterbacks will be in the spotlight, but both the Redskins and Seahawks lean heavily on their ground games.

This game features the NFL’s second- and third-leading rushers in Washington rookie Alfred Morris (1,613 yards) and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (1,590).

Morris, a sixth-round pick, had a 200-yard game in the do-or-die finale against the Cowboys. That made the difference when Griffin, still recovering from a knee sprain, wasn’t at his best as a passer or runner.

“It does show that the ground game is definitely still needed,” Morris told the Washington Post.
“I know a lot of teams now pass the ball around, but you definitely need a running attack. A lot of teams don’t go as far because they don’t have a rushing attack. You can’t win games if you don’t get it done on the ground as well.”

Another view

Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann: “Seattle will finally get to experience what a lot of people experience when they go to Seattle — the inability to communicate on offense.
“FedEx Field should be at least as loud as it is in Seattle. It was for the Cowboys game, wow.”

By the numbers

How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for sacks and turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):


POINTS SCORED: 25.8 (9); 27.2 (4)

POINTS ALLOWED: 15.3 (1); 24.2 (22)

PASS OFFENSE: 189.4 (27); 213.9 (20)

RUSH OFFENSE: 161.2 (3); 169.2 (1)

PASS DEFENSE: 203.1 (6); 281.9 (30)

RUSH DEFENSE: 103.1 (10); 95.8 (5)

SACKS: 36 (18); 32 (23)

PENALTIES: 6.9 (27); 7.3 (29)

TURNOVERS: +13 (4); +17 (2)

Farmer’s pick

 The Redskins aren’t going to be able to run on Seattle the way they did on Dallas, and Griffin hasn’t been the same threat since his knee sprain. The Seahawks have put their road woes behind them, and Wilson — like Griffin — won’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of this game.


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