Helu making a leap?

Helu making a leap?
November 28, 2011, 2:41 am
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UPDATED 9:57 p.m.

SEATTLE Nearly two months into his search for an in-house option to be the Redskins feature running back, coach Mike Shanahan may have found his answer Sunday against the Seahawks.

Eased into the game the last two weeks, rookie Roy Helu started and accounted for 162 all-purpose yards in the Redskins 23-17 win.

The Redskins have been careful not to put too much on Helus docket and while he was playing more than Ryan Torain, he wasnt getting a ton of touches, just 7.1 (carries and catches) the previous three games.

But the figurative shackle was taken off against the Seahawks. Helu carried 23 times for 108 yards and caught a team-high seven passes for 54 yards.

I thought he was ready to play a full game, coach Mike Shanahan said. It was a chance to put the load on him. He had played enough and felt comfortable enough to see what he could do.

Helus first career rushing touchdown got the Redskins back in the game with 9:51 remaining. On a third-and-3 play from the Seattle 28, Helu ran left and sprung free by hurdling over diving cornerback Roy Lewis to score the touchdown.

Before the play, I looked for the third-down marker and I just really wanted our team to progress, Helu said. Once I got the pitch, the first thing was getting to the edge and I thought I could get around. I didnt care if the safety came over and drilled me in the air, I just wanted to get the first down.

Evan Royster made his NFL regular season debut with spot work and one carry, but Torain didnt see the field.

The Redskins 110 rushing yards were their most since, not shockingly, the last time they won (196 against St. Louis in Week 4). They entered the game ranked 30th in rushing.

Helus rushing totals were personal bests and it was the Redskins second 100-yard individual performance of the year Torain gained 135 against the Rams.

Helu did his work against a Seattle team which was eighth against the run and hadnt allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 4, a span of 29 quarters.

The touchdown run was only the second Redskins rushing attempt this year (out of 255 carries) that gained more than 25 yards. The longest remains Torains 39-yard run against St. Louis.

Helu helped seal the win by rushing three consecutive plays and doing two vital things: He didnt fumble and he stayed in bounds, which ran the clock.

He ran extremely hard, broke some tackles and made the big play that youre always looking for, Shanahan said. You need to have one or two of those every game.

Said quarterback Rex Grossman: He had some hard runs that arent always on the highlight reel, but it kept us in third-and-manageable or second-and-4 and we were able to pick up first downs and move the ball. And obviously, the touchdown was one of the most impressive runs Ive seen.

Injury Report
Fullback Darrel Young missed the second half with a concussion and safeties LaRon Landry (groin) and O.J. Atogwe (knee, toe) had their playing time limited because of injuries.

Reed Doughty started for Atogwe at free safety.

Hes giving us everything he has but hes been beat up, Shanahan said of Atogwe. He wont tell you but you can see in practice and games that hes not full speed. We want to make sure he gets healthy and gets back to full speed. When he does, he can help us.

Landry started but left because of groin injury sustained on Marshawn Lynchs 20-yard catch and run. Landry said he missed the start of the third quarter because the groin was wrapped too tightly.

He was in and out of there, Shanahan said. Head trainer Larry Hess said he finished OK.

Young said after the game he had a headache but was preparing to be on the team charter.

Sound Day For OL
Even with the tackles being a less-than-healthy Trent Williams (knee) and Jammal Brown (groin), the Redskins offensive line held up well, opening holes for Helu, allowing just one sack and committing no false start penalties at loud CenturyLink Field.

We werent too crazy with our cadence today, center Will Montgomery said. I had never played here before and they said coming in it was the loudest stadium in the league and after today, I can probably agree with that.

To combat the crowd noise when Grossman was in the shotgun, right guard Chris Chester would look back to him and when given the nod, would tap Montgomery on the right arm.

He would let know so in case the defense changes, my head isnt between my legs and I can make a call, Montgomery said.

More Special Teams Blunders
In addition to allowing a season-high 51-yard kickoff return, the Redskins adventures in the kicking game continued. Red Bryant blocked a 23-yard field goal and an extra point attempt.

Weve been putting people in there that havent played a lot, Shanahan said. We took Trent out of there to protect his knee and after they blocked the first one, we put him back in there. It just looked like we got beat. I said, How many can he block in a game?

Quick Kicks
Receiver Santana Moss started after missing the previous four games with a broken hand and caught four passes for 29 yards.

Inside linebacker Perry Riley led the Redskins with 14 tackles. London Fletcher added 11 stops.

The Redskins had two sacks, a split between Stephen Bowen and Brian Orakpo and a solo sack for Landry.

DeAngelo Hall had six passes defended and his second interception of the year.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com