Newyorkjets.com is profiinge each playoff game in this NFL postseason, with a special eye on Jets angles in each of the matchups. Today: the NFCWild Card Game to be played Sunday afternoon:
(5) SEATTLE (11-5) at (4) WASHINGTON (10-6), 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX
This intriguing NFC Wild Card matchup will be centered around two young standout quarterbacks: Washington's Robert Griffin III and Seattle's Russell Wilson who produced two of the most noteworthy rookie seasons in NFL history.
Griffin, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, enters his first postseason with a 102.4 passer rating, the best ever by a rookie. He also set the rookie record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 815.
"My strategy was to come in and try to lead by example first," Griffin said. "Being a rookie, you don't want to come in talking right away. You can rub a lot of guys the wrong way. One thing you can't do as a leader is come out and say you're the leader."
Wilson, a third-round selection, has been equally impressive. Standing at 5'11", he's proved critics wrong with his ability to succeed as an undersized QB. In Seattle's last regular-season game, he tied Peyton Manning's 1998 rookie record with his 26th touchdown pass.
"We trust him in everything we're calling," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It doesn't matter what play it is, what concept it is, we trust him to be able to handle it. That's a wonderful feeling for a coach, that you trust your quarterback like that. It's remarkable that you could say that about a first-year guy, but somewhere in the middle of the year we could tell."
Behind Griffin's stellar play, the Redskins went from being the worst in the NFC East a season ago to claiming their first division title since 1999. After starting their season 3-6, they finished on a seven-game winning streak.
"All odds were against us," RB Alfred Morris said. "But we believed in each other."
The Seahawks travel to the East Coast as winners of five in a row and seven of their last eight. They ended the year with a perfect 8-0 home record and set a franchise record for points back in Week 14 when they shutout Arizona, 58-0. However, away from CenturyLink Field, they've been beatable with a 3-5 road record.
Washington leads the NFL in rushing yards (169.3 per game) in large part due to Morris, a rookie out of Florida Atlantic. No. 46 for the 'Skins broke the franchise rushing record with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's coming off the best performance of his young NFL career, when he rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Washington's 28-18 win over Dallas last Sunday night.
"I'll never be a star," Morris said following the victory. "Other people may think I'm a star, but I'm just Alfred. I've been the same since way back when. And I'm not gonna change. I'm still gonna be the same guy I was when I walked in and nobody knew who I was. I couldn't change even if I tried."
The Seahawks also are a strong running team, ranking third in the NFL in rush yards per game. Seventh-year RB Marshawn Lynch put together the best season of his career, rushing for 1,590 yards at 5.0 yards per carry and 11 TDs. It marked his fourth 1,000-yard season and second straight.
"He's strong, he's physically right," Carroll said. "He's tuned in, and he trusts everything he's seeing upfront so he's hitting it. I think it's really his consistency. Every game he has answered the bell. It's been really fun to watch."
While Washington is statistically the NFL's fifth-best offense, Seattle presents the fourth-best defense. The Redskins rank fifth in stopping the run, but their secondary is in the lower tier at No. 30.
Sunday's game will be the third time the teams have met in the postseason. Seattle defeated Washington in the 2007 NFC Wild Card Round and in the 2005 Divisional Round. However this will be the first time they've traveled to Washington for a playoff game.
The Redskins present a 23-17 all-time playoff record and have won three Super Bowls (XXVI, XXII and XVII) in their franchise history. This is their first trip to the playoffs in five years.
"I've been here for the 4-12, the bad times, almost being the joke of the NFL," veteran DL Kedric Golston said. "But to do this with this group of guys, the old and the new, it's good to be here."
This is Seattle's first playoff appearance since 2010. That year, the Seahawks upended the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round but were eliminated the next week by the Bears.
Although the Seahawks have won both previous playoffs matchups vs. Washington, their overall playoff record isn't as encouraging (8-11). Seattle is also still in quest of its first Super Bowl title. They advanced to Super Bowl XL, where they were defeated by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
Redskins WR Santana Moss was the Jets' first-round draft selection in 2001. He stayed with the squad for four seasons, and in 2003 he produced 1,105 receiving yards and 10 TDs. Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was a linebacker for three games (two starts) for the 1987 Jets. DBs coach Raheem Morris attended Hofstra and is a native of Irvington, N.J., who spent the fall of 2001 with the Green & White, serving a defensive minority internship. Jets S LaRon Landry spent his first five years in the league with the Redskins.
Carroll was the Jets' defensive coordinator for four seasons (1990-93), then served as head coach in 1994. The Green & White got off to a 6-5 start that year but wouldn't win a game the rest of the way and after just one season Carroll was fired. Seahawks WRs coach Kippy Brown was the Jets' RBs coach for three seasons (1990-92).
Seattle RB Leon Washington was selected by the Jets in the fourth round in 2006 and spent his first four years in the league with the Green & White, setting three franchise records along the way — most kickoff return touchdowns in a career and in a season and most all-purpose yards in a season. He was traded to Seattle in April 2010 and earned his second Pro Bowl invitation this season. CB Marcus Trufant's brother Isaiah is a member of the Jets. The siblings faced off briefly against each other during Week 10 (Isaiah was hurt early in the Jets' 28-7 loss). Jets WR Braylon Edwards started the season with Seattle before being acquired on waivers on Dec. 4.