LANDOVER, Md. -- It was, Robert Griffin III said, a "simple" process.
"Mike [Shanahan] asked me if I was OK, I said yes," the Redskins' dynamic rookie quarterback said. "I'm the quarterback of this team. My job is to be out there to play . . . I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way."
That's up for debate. As is the question of whether he hurt the team's future.
Griffin, who came into the game with an already injured lateral collateral ligament in his right knee that required a bulky brace, aggravated the joint in the first quarter. He stayed in the game, although at times he was barely able to run, and then had to leave after it buckled under him while he attempted to recover a low snap with 6:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Any chance the Redskins had to mount a comeback limped off the field with Griffin, and the Seahawks held on for a 24-14 wild-card victory at a hushed FedEx Field Sunday night.
Seattle will face top-seeded Atlanta in an NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday.
When Griffin first injured his knee against the Browns last month, he told reporters right away that he did not believe he had torn his ACL. This time he was a bit more ominous.
"Honestly, it's up in the air for me right now," he said. "Coming off the field, I thought it was the same thing [as last time], but we'll see what it is."
It was such a scary moment -- Griffin lying on the chewed-up sod next to his own end zone, teammates trying to keep him down on the ground for his own protection -- that it could reverberate all the way to next September.
"Certainly I'm going to be ready whenever the next time comes to be called upon," backup QB Kirk Cousins said grimly. That's not something you want to hear going into the offseason.
The Redskins and RG3 looked as if they would breeze through the Seahawks when they took a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on their first two drives. But late in that second drive, Griffin was rolling to his right and floating backward as he tried to throw to Pierre Garçon. He fell out of bounds and was in such pain that he flung his helmet.
Two plays later, he hit Logan Paulsen for a 4-yard TD with 2:26 left in the first quarter. But he wouldn't complete another pass until the start of the third quarter, by which time the Seahawks had cut the lead to 14-13.
Early in the fourth, RG3 ran a designed bootleg left and was visibly struggling, even though he wound up with a decent gain. "Mike asked me to try to see if I can run, so I did," he said. "I got nine yards. That's a positive in anyone's playbook."
Still, Shanahan had his doubts.
"I think everybody could see after our first quarter that he wasn't exactly the same," he said. "I still thought he could go in there and make the plays he was capable of making."
So he stuck with Griffin.
"You have to go with your gut," Shanahan said. "I'm not saying my gut is always right."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called what he did "gallant'' and said, "It was hard to watch Robert Griffin III today.'' He added, "I thought, under the circumstances, he did very well just to survive the playing time.''
Shortly after that hobbling 9-yard run by Griffin, the Seahawks took the lead. Marshawn Lynch (132 yards) bolted up the middle, sidestepped DeAngelo Hall and picked up a block from quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line to score on a 27- yard run. A two-point conversion gave Seattle a 21-14 lead.
Two plays later, Will Montgomery fired a snap that was low and to Griffin's left. Griffin stuck out his healthy leg to stop the ball and then tried to push off his right foot to pick it up. The knee gave way with gruesome elasticity and Griffin fell flat.
Griffin's is unlikely to end with this loss. But there is a question of whether he will be able to return and be the same athletic wonder he's been throughout his rookie season, with world-class speed and an ability to cut like an Iron Chef.
He was willing to take the risk. "Every time you go out there between those lines, you're putting your life, your career, every single ligament in your body in jeopardy," he said. "My teammates needed me out there, so I was out there for them."