Curious about the mood of the Washington Redskins as they faced another tense situation, coach Jim Zorn surveyed the sideline late Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field.
Consecutive losses had made things more difficult for them to earn an NFC playoff berth, and the players' demeanor late in their game against the Seattle Seahawks, Zorn thought to himself, would indicate a lot about what they could still accomplish.
He liked what he saw, as the Redskins ended their losing streak with a 20-17 victory in a homecoming game for Zorn.
Place kicker Shaun Suisham made a 22-yard field goal to break a fourth-quarter tie, and the defense made a strong push at the end against the injury-weakened Seahawks.
"It was the last two losses coming in to this that motivated us," said Zorn, who served as Seattle's quarterbacks coach for seven seasons and was the first quarterback of the expansion Seahawks in 1976. "It was also the commitment that our team has to continue to go. We were not in a crisis situation where we had to change a lot."
After the Seahawks recovered Ladell Betts's fumble deep in their end of the field with the Redskins trying to run out the clock in the final two minutes, cornerback Shawn Springs, who sat out the past four games because of a calf injury, intercepted quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's pass to seal it.
"When they put me in, they expect me to make plays," Springs said. "That's my role. I was just trying to shake off a little rust, and I was happy to help the team win."
Washington is in a crowded pack to attain its goal of a playoff berth, and the players showed Zorn something important Sunday.
"Today felt like one of those early games, one of those first six games of the year," said quarterback Jason Campbell, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 206 yards and one score.
Washington needed everything it could summon to hold off the Seahawks (2-9).
The Redskins had 386 total yards to 228 for Seattle, a 24-13 edge in first downs and almost a 17-minute advantage in time of possession.
The Redskins won by relying on running back Clinton Portis and their defense.
Portis played through the pain of a knee injury against Dallas and again had a lot on his shoulders, gaining 143 yards on 29 rushes.
Washington took a 7-3 lead with 4:37 left in the second quarter on Betts's 1-yard run and Suisham's successful point-after attempt.
The Redskins retained the ball for 5:42 on an 11-play, 62-yard drive.
Then Hasselbeck, who completed 12 of 24 passes for 103 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, got into a groove. He completed his five attempts for 32 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Morris, as the Seahawks closed the half's scoring with 35 seconds showing on the game clock.
After trailing 10-7 at halftime, Washington tried to take control in the third quarter, but the Seahawks pulled even again early in the final quarter. With 13:30 to play, Hasselbeck threw a short pass to the right side to rookie tight end John Carlson for a 10-yard touchdown. Olindo Mare's kick tied the score.
Suisham, who missed a 40-plus yard field goal early in the game, also connected from 26 yards to tie the score at 10 in the third. Then the defense came up with a turnover, and the offense capitalized on the opportunity.
With the Seahawks needing 12 yards on third down late in the third quarter, tackle Demetric Evans applied pressure on Hasselbeck, prompting him to throw the ball. The pass went to the middle of the field, where there were no Seahawks receivers, and safety LaRon Landry grabbed the interception.
Landry returned the ball 13 yards the Seattle 35. The pick was the first of Landry's career in the regular season.
Four plays after Landry's interception, the Redskins reclaimed the lead on Campbell's 8-yard pass to Antwaan Randle El on a crossing pattern. The Redskins, who used a five-receiver set on the play, took a 17-10 lead on the Campbell-Randle El connection.
"With the losses that we had the last couple of weeks, we had to come back and regroup," Landry said. "We talked about definitely getting our swagger back and our confidence. We're not looking back at those losses."
REDSKINS 20, SEAHAWKS 17Washington
07103 — 20Seattle
3707 — 17First quarter
Sea—FG Mare 45, 7:19.
Was—Betts 1 run (Suisham kick), 4:32.
Sea—Morris 4 pass from Hasselbeck (Mare kick), :29.
Was—FG Suisham 26, 7:21.
Was—Randle El 8 pass from J.Campbell (Suisham kick), 3:25.
Sea—Carlson 10 pass from Hasselbeck (Mare kick), 13:24.
Was—FG Suisham 22, 9:19.
WasSeaFirst downs2413Total net yards386228Rushes-yards41-18720-139Passing yards19989Punt returns2-181-10Kickoff returns3-845-124Interceptions ret.2-130-0Comp-att-int20-33-012-24-2Sacked-yards lost2-72-14Punts-avg.3-31.74-47.8Fumbles-lost2-10-0Penalties-yards2-206-51Time of possession38:2721:33INDIVIDUAL STATISTICSRUSHING—Washington, Portis 29-143, J.Campbell 6-32, Betts 5-7, Sellers 1-5. Seattle, Morris 14-103, J.Jones 2-21, Hasselbeck 2-11, Duckett 1-4, Weaver 1-0.
PASSING—Washington, J.Campbell 20-33-0-206. Seattle, Hasselbeck 12-24-2-103.
RECEIVING—Washington, Cooley 5-54, Moss 4-72, Sellers 4-30, Randle El 2-18, Portis 2-16, Kelly 2-12, Yoder 1-4. Seattle, Morris 3-10, Engram 2-34, Carlson 2-14, Weaver 2-14, K.Robinson 1-14, Branch 1-11, Taylor 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Washington, Suisham 43 (SH). Seattle, Mare 53 (WR).