The final seconds of the Redskins' season ticked away and Jon Jansen began a long walk off the rain-soaked field at Qwest Field to the team's locker room.
"There's only one team in this league that's going to end up happy, and it's obviously not going to be us this year," Jansen said.
Washington's 2005 season, for all its ups and downs, came to an unsatisfying finish on Saturday in Seattle, as the Seahawks dashed Washington's championship hopes with a 20-10 win.
As has been the team's trademark all year long, the Redskins did not go down without a fight. It was a taut, hard-hitting defensive struggle most of the game, with the Seahawks forced to play without league MVP Shaun Alexander, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter and did not return.
But the Seahawks managed to overcome three turnovers and put together enough offense to build a second-half lead. Mark Brunell tried to steer a late comeback, connecting on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss in the fourth quarter to pull within 17-10.
Then the Redskins recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and had a chance to pull closer, but John Hall's 36-yard field goal attempt was wide left with eight minutes to play.
Energized, the Seahawks drove downfield and built a 10-point lead on a 31-yard field goal by Josh Brown with less than three minutes to play. It was too much for the Redskins to overcome.
The Redskins' offense struggled most of the game, particularly in the first half when they logged just three first downs and four possessions of three-and-outs.
Brunell finished the game completing 22-of-37 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown.
Clinton Portis was bottled up most of the afternoon and he recorded 41 tough yards on 17 carries. Moss led the receivers with seven receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown.
At the game's outset, Seattle won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. Going into the game, the Redskins' defensive coaches knew that they needed to stop Seattle's offense on their opening possession: the Seahawks average 37 points per game when they score a touchdown on their first offensive drive.
Matt Hasselbeck connected on a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Darrell Jackson, who got a step on Shawn Springs. Jackson was pushed out of bounds at the Redskins' 23-yard line, putting the Seahawks in excellent position for a score.
Three plays later, Hasselbeck handed off to Alexander, who inexplicably dropped the ball at the line of scrimmage. Lemar Marshall pounced on the ball and the Redskins had dodged a bullet in the early going.
Defense dominated for much of the first quarter. Phillip Daniels batted away a third-down pass from Hasselbeck. Later, Omar Stoutmire came in on a safety blitz and knocked down another third-down pass.
Midway through the first quarter, Alexander was tackled hard by Cornelius Griffin and LaVar Arrington. He was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return to the game. Alexander was replaced in the lineup by fourth-year player Maurice Morris, who had rushed for just 288 yards in the regular season.
On the first play of the second quarter, Seattle punt return specialist Jimmy Williams mishandled a punt and the ball popped loose from his arms. Pierson Prioleau recovered the fumble, giving the Redskins' offense a first down at the Seahawks' 39-yard line.
Finally, the Redskins' offense came to life. Brunell connected on a 9-yard pass to Chris Cooley and a 14-yard pass to Moss to get the offense some momentum. The drive stalled inside the Seahawks' 10-yard line when a pass to Moss in the back of the end zone was just out of reach.
John Hall came in and connected on a 26-yard field goal, giving the Redskins a 3-0 lead.
The Seahawks responded with their first scoring drive of the game. Hasselbeck found Jackson--covered tough by Ryan Clark--across the middle of the field for a 29-yard touchdown. The wide receiver pulled up and caught the pass in front of Clark for the score, capping a 12-play, 76-yard drive.
Earlier in the drive, Carlos Rogers nearly pulled off a dramatic interception that would have surely resulted in a touchdown. But Rogers could not hold on to the ball. The two teams entered halftime with Seattle leading 7-3.
On the Redskins' opening possession of the third quarter, the offense was forced into another three-and-out. It was a key series because the offense needed to establish some momentum.
After a punt, the Seahawks took over at their own 19-yard line. Hasselbeck led an 10 efficient 10-play drive downfield, connecting on a 31-yard pass to wide receiver Joe Jurevicius and a 10-yard pass to Jackson.
On 3rd-and-5 at the Redskins' 6-yard line, Hasselbeck rolled left. Under pressure, he sprinted to the right and had to out-race Springs to the end zone. He dived in for the touchdown, giving Seattle a 14-3 lead.
In comeback mode, the Redskins' offense showed some positive signs on their next drive. Brunell completed a 23-yard pass to Moss and found Cooley for a 16-yard pickup. On a 4th-and-2 play, Portis ran right for a 6-yard gain to the Seahawks' 30-yard line.
One play later, Brunell was called for intentional grounding on a pass play, forcing the offense into a long yardage situation. On 4th-and-13, Brunell was sacked by Bryce Fisher, ending the Redskins' drive.
Seattle took over and proceeded to drive downfield. Hasselbeck completed a 37-yard pass to Jackson, taking advantage of the absence of Springs, who was sidelined for a series with a cramps injury.
The Seahawks would go on to increase their lead to 17-3 on a 33-yard field goal by Josh Brown.
Remarkably, the Redskins' offense struck back quickly.
Brunell threw to Cooley on a deep pattern. Cooley found open space and raced downfield for a 52-yard gain that surprised the capacity Qwest Field crowd.
Two plays later, Brunell dropped back and was pressured from the left. He rolled right and saw Moss streaking toward the end zone. Brunell's pass appeared to be intercepted by Seattle cornerback Andre Dyson, but the ball flipped off Dyson's hands and into the arms of Moss for a 20-yard touchdown catch.
Down 17-10, the Redskins suddenly had new life.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, return specialist Josh Scobey fumbled as he tried to break a tackle and the ball was quickly recovered by kicker Hall at Seattle's 40-yard line.
The Redskins picked up one first down, but a holding call on Jon Jansen pushed the offense back. Washington had to settle for a field goal attempt after Brunell's third-down pass to Moss was out of reach.
Hall's 36-yard attempt was wide left and the Seahawks celebrated a key defensive stop.
Still down 17-10, it was up to the Redskins' defense to hold off the Seattle again. But on a key 3rd-and-6 play, fullback Mack Strong broke through on a 32-yard run, beating a blitz by assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams.
The run gave Seattle the ball at the Redskins' 20-yard line and set up a 31-yard field goal by Brown. The score increased the Seahawks lead to 20-10 with less than three minutes to play.
Seattle's defense thwarted the Redskins' final drive. Appropriately, the season came to an end on a long pass to Moss. Brunell's pass was batted away by safety Michael Boulware in the game's final minutes, sealing the win for the Seahawks. Seattle is headed to the NFC Championship game.