Russell Wilson shrugs off mistakes, sends Seattle to first ever 6-1 start
On a 3rd-and-goal from the Arizona 1, Russell Wilson faked a handoff to Marshawn Lynch, rolled to his right and found no one open.
“Wilson’s in trouble,” NFL Network play-by-play man Brad Nessler declared as the Cardinals’ defense closed in on the Seattle QB.
After twice looking to his blindside for a receiver, Wilson turned back and located Kellen Davis at the back of the end zone. He dropped a pass in for an easy six, never even really acknowledging the collapsing defense.
Wilson’s internal warning lights did not go off quite as often as they needed to Thursday night — he fumbled three times on sacks, two of which Arizona recovered in the Seattle red zone. But he made up for those miscues and then some, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns in Seattle’s 34-22 win.
“He’s become such a special aspect of our team,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I don’t know what we’d do without him.”
The Seahawks are now 6-1 for the first time in franchise history and win No. 6 was only in doubt for a brief stretch right around halftime, when Arizona twice pulled within four. Prior to and after that, the Seahawks ferociously worked over the host Cardinals.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer felt the brunt of that ferocity, as the Seahawks sacked him seven times while eliminating any hope he had of getting his run game going. Darnell Dockett probably walked away a little worse for the wear, too, after Marshawn Lynch popped his helmet off with an impressive run up the gut to set the table for that Wilson-to-Davis TD.
The Cardinals’ defense pushed back some, with a 4th-and-1 stuff to turn momentum in the second quarter and those two forced turnovers off Wilson. In the end, it was not nearly enough, as Seattle won the physical battles time and again.
“We’re competing all the time,” said Richard Sherman, who bounced back from a textbook block by Larry Fitzgerald late. “We made sure to get all the things done that we wanted to get done.”
It all started with Wilson, who made his NFL debut 23 regular-season games ago in the same University of Phoenix Stadium he returned to Thursday night. Seattle lost that game, 20-16, as the coaching staff mostly tried to keep Wilson from having to do too much too soon.
Carroll and Co. long ago took off the harness. Wilson needed all of one possession in his return trip to Glendale to show why.
He capped Seattle’s opening drive (after a 14-yard Tony McDaniel sack of Palmer helped snuff out Arizona’s initial march) by again staring down pressure to fire a gorgeous touchdown pass off his back foot to a streaking Sidney Rice. Wilson added another beauty in the second quarter, dropping a dime over he Arizona defense to Zach Miller for a 15-yard score.
“Playing the quarterback position, you have to have amnesia. You have to be able to forget, not just the bad plays but the good ones,” said Wilson on the NFL Network’s postgame show, chastising himself for those three fumbles. “Obviously, the playbook’s wide open, so we want to do a lot of different things — we want to do things that keep the ball moving and keep the chains moving.”
Nine different Seahawks caught passes Thursday night, and Carroll mentioned after the game that the team hopes to have Percy Harvin back on the field soon as well. “If (Harvin) makes it through these few days,” Carrol said, “he has a chance to practice on Tuesday.”
So this multi-faceted Seattle attack could be even more difficult to handle before long.
That has to be a scary thought for the rest of the NFC contenders, as they try to chase down Seattle for the conference’s top spot. The Seahawks already have enough, on both sides of the football, to be a handful every single week.
Seattle’s D actually held the Cardinals under 100 total yards until the game was deep into the third quarter. By the time Arizona finally hit the century mark (and before Palmer settled into a meaningless late-game groove), Seattle had an insurmountable lead. Wilson’s crew punctuated their rout late in the third quarter, first with Davis’ TD and then with Brandon Browner returning an interception to the Arizona 1. Browner would have scored a deserved defensive TD had he not tripped himself up a few yards shy of the end zone.
“I fell, what, on the 1-yard-line? They’re gonna fine me for that,” Browner said, a little tongue in cheek of his fellow defensive backs. “I’ve got to get in the end zone.”
Carroll concurred: “I can’t believe he stumbled down there on the 5-yard line.”
These are the little hiccups the Seahawks can worry about in lighthearted fashion at the moment, because they’re doing all the big things necessary to keep racking up victories.
The 6-1 start is worth celebrating, given its place in team history. There are far larger mountains to climb, though, starting with securing the NFC West title that eluded Seattle last season and ending with a trip to the Super Bowl.
No matter what’s ahead, the Seahawks can be confident that their still-emerging quarterback will be able to handle it, come hell or high water.
“You just take one day at a time,” Wilson said. “Just ignore the noise. The biggest thing for us is staying in the moment.”