October 01, 2014

Two seasons ago, the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins entered a playoff matchup with bright futures while being led by promising rookie quarterbacks.

The fortunes have changed drastically for both franchises.

The Seahawks will return to the nation's capital Monday night for the first time since that meeting as defending Super Bowl champions, while the last-place Redskins were just embarrassed in prime time with a first-year coach.

These teams met in the playoffs following the 2012 season after Robert Griffin III guided Washington to the NFC East title and Russell Wilson helped Seattle gain a wild-card berth.

The Redskins built a 14-0 lead behind two touchdown passes from Griffin before the Seahawks scored the final 24 points to advance. Washington then went 3-13 the next season, resulting in Jay Gruden replacing Mike Shanahan as coach.

Griffin notably re-injured his knee in that contest to require surgery and hasn't been the same player since. He got hurt again in a 41-10 rout of Jacksonville on Sept. 14, putting Kirk Cousins into the starting lineup for two straight losses by the Redskins (1-3).

The comeback, meanwhile, was Wilson's first playoff victory. He seems to have many more in the future after he guided the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title last season.

Wilson showcased the type of leadership he has been lauded for by rushing for 21 yards and completing four of six passes in overtime on a drive capped by Marshawn Lynch's 6-yard TD run in a 26-20 win over Denver on Sept. 21.

''I don't think anyone ever doubts Russell. He's just too good,'' tight end Zach Miller said.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll then gave his team a full week off during the bye since it will now play 13 weeks in a row. Seattle (2-1) has won eight straight on Monday nights.

"We wanted to maximize our chance to get our guys as fresh as possible for this big push here through this season," Carroll said. "So we did (the) bye really successfully, we'll find out if the result was good when we go out and play on Monday night."

The national spotlight will again be on Washington after its 45-14 home defeat to the Giants last Thursday night. Gruden joked that the loss ''should count for three.''

Cousins was picked off a career-high four times in losing his fifth straight start.

"He's frustrated with some of the throws that he made and maybe some of the decisions," Gruden said. "Moving forward, it's a great learning experience for a guy like that."

A return to a ground game that features Alfred Morris, fifth in the NFL with 316 yards, would be preferable rather than testing Seattle's vaunted secondary.

That unit got good news Monday when safety Kam Chancellor practiced after being hampered by an ankle problem. Chancellor claims he has changed his shoes to alleviate the issue.

"He looked great (Monday)," Carroll said. "It was an issue a couple of weeks ago, mounted him up in San Diego. He made it back and did a really good job last week and played great football."

The Seahawks will be without Miller for a few weeks after he underwent ankle surgery during the bye week. Luke Willson, who has one reception this year, will likely start in his place.

''When you're the backup guy, you kind of always want to prepare for it,'' Willson said. ''I've been here practicing and we rotate so it's one of those things where I don't really feel like I'm entering new territory.''

Seattle will also rely on Lynch, who has 234 yards in 2014 and made an impression upon the Redskins in the aforementioned postseason game with 132 yards and one score.

"He's a great runner, a hard-nosed runner, we've just got to do a good job of not letting him get to the second level with our DBs," defensive end Jason Hatcher said.

Left tackle Trent Williams expects to play after he said his right kneecap was slightly dislocated in the Giants game. Niles Paul expects to return from a concussion and fellow tight end Jordan Reed said he's ''50-50'' to play.

The Redskins have taken the last six regular-season meetings while losing all three postseason matchups in that span. They have dropped their last six night games.

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