Redskins hope to finally stop slide in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) - In one sentence, Rex Grossman summed up not only his season thus far, but the Washington Redskins as a whole.
"We were off to a 3-1 start, and now we're 3-7, and I had pneumonia and this whole thing just stinks," Grossman said this week.
On its worst losing streak in more than a decade, Washington comes to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday to face the Seahawks hoping to snap a six-game skid that's seen the Redskins go from the surprise leaders of the NFC East to a bumbling also-ran now focused on what their draft position might be.
Washington's current losing streak is its worst since dropping seven straight to begin the 1998 season and if they can't get a win in Seattle, good luck figuring out just when the next win will come. The Redskins return home to host the New York Jets and New England before traveling to the Giants in Week 15.
"I'm playing to have a winning record this season. That's all that we can control. It's another cliche but it's true. I just want to go out and beat Seattle and play well. I can start worrying about other things later," Grossman said. "You want to play well for yourself, obviously, but in this situation, we are totally committed to just thinking about one thing, `Break this losing streak. Beat Seattle.' There's no room for any other thoughts."
Thanks to its two-game win streak, Seattle (4-6) has the chance of getting back into the fringes of the NFC playoff picture. It seems unlikely that the Seahawks can get into the race, but the opportunity is there to at least make it interesting.
Sunday's game is the beginning of a three-game homestand that includes prime-time national games next Thursday night against Philadelphia and then Dec. 12 when Seattle hosts St. Louis on Monday night. It's conceivable Seattle could win all three and find themselves at 7-6 with three weeks left in the season.
Sound crazy after a 2-6 start?
"The opportunity to capture what it takes on a week-to-week basis and the focus and the attention to detail is at hand right now. That's why each one of these weeks is so cool and exciting to go after it again," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "Can we do it again? Can we find all of the right elements that it takes to execute a play really well with a young bunch of guys? They can feel it. They can sense that something is going on and it's turning, so I'm just hoping that we can corral it and keep it in-house and do a good job with everything."
What's clicked so well for Seattle is a young and improving defense that continues to climb the NFL rankings - now 11th overall - and a rediscovery of a running game that has posted three straight games of more than 100 yards rushing.
Seattle's defense held St. Louis to 185 total yards and had five sacks - three by Chris Clemons - in last week's 24-7 win. While that stat may come with an asterisk since the Rams are the worst offense in the NFL, it was another impressive effort by a unit that features one first-round pick and five players in their first or second years in the league among the defensive starters.
"Even though we didn't have success earlier I have always seen that we can win every game. We're doing nothing (different). We're just trusting our preparation," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
A win Sunday would give Seattle its first three-game win streak under Carroll and its longest since winning five straight in 2007. Success has been fleeting in Seattle, even with a division title a year ago that was the result of playing in an awful division. With such a young team, the next challenge is learning to play with expectations.
"It's been growing throughout the whole season. Even though we were losing we've had different guys making plays and actually seeing that they can get it done," Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "Even though we were taking losses during that process we were still able to get guys going and focused in the right direction and understanding the game a little more, understanding it's still just football."
If Washington is going to snap its skid, they'll need another strong performance from Grossman. Last week against Dallas, Grossman threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns as the Redskins were a missed Graham Gano 52-yard field goal in overtime from knocking off the Cowboys. Grossman's 95.5 quarterback rating was his second-highest of the season.
And he might be getting help back this week. Santana Moss practiced fully this week and is expected to play. Moss hasn't played in more than a month with a broken left hand suffered against Carolina on Oct. 23.
"We're trying to get our rhythm back. After our first four games we had a rhythm going and we were playing pretty consistent in the top 10 and all the sudden your lineup changes a little bit and we haven't been consistent since then," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "But last weekend, we scored 24 against a pretty good defensive team. We made a few plays we hadn't been making, so it was nice to get going in the right direction."