BY Art Thiel 07:15PM 09/09/2012

Thiel: No Seahawks miracle, but Wilson does OK

Seahawks misfire on four shots for game-winning TD in final minute in 20-16 loss to Arizona, but defense and special teams were as advertised. So was QB Russell Wilson.

Leon Washington's 82-yard kickoff return and 52-yard punt return helped rescue a flagging Seahawks offense Sunday against Arizona. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Hollywood ending missed. By an inch. Several times.

The story for Seattle Sunday loomed as a knockout — rookie quarterback, starting first regular-season game of his NFL career, leads Seahawks to game-winning score in final moments.

Instead, the Seahawks were out-Hollywooded by Arizona — derided backup quarterback comes on for injured starter, takes Cardinals 80 yards to score fourth-quarter decider in harrowing 20-16 triumph.

Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals QB with the contract and the experience who was benched for the opener, entered cold and brilliant, smoothly operating a hurry-up offense to hit six of eight passes, including a six-yard touchdown pass with five minutes remaining.

But the drive was sustained by two pass-interference penalties — the big blots on an otherwise splendid day for the Seahawks defense.

It spoiled the debut of the golden child, Russell Wilson, who can’t say he didn’t have his shots at glory — passes into the end zone in the final minute to Doug Baldwin, Braylon Edwards, Sidney Rice and Charly Martin.

“We had four great shots,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We had enough time, we had four passes to be caught. It was that close.

“Every one had a chance. Every one had a tough catch.”

All missed. Maybe they should have given the ball to Leon Washington about 30 yards further back.

His kick returns — 82 yards on a kickoff, 52 on a punt — helped the Seahawks break from first-half doldrums. But it what happened thereafter identified the difference in the game, not necessarily the events of the final minute.

Three times they began drives inside the Arizona 35-yard line, three times they came away with field goals.

“We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities,” Carroll said. “We did what we wanted  to do with the defense, our special teams were good, we got the running game going, but today it was not enough.

“We needed to find a way to make that last catch, that last throw, that last block.”

That may well happen later in the season, but those virtues in the opener weren’t there in a three-point first half, and visible only fleetingly in the second half. The reason was the rookieness of  Wilson and right guard J.R. Sweezy, who began their careers on the NFL road against a defense that mixes its looks and stunts as well as any in the NFL.

Seattle fans can take solace from the fact the Seahawks nearly won a game in which the rookies will never be so raw again. Wilson even grew within with the game as he felt sufficiently comfortable to go downfield.

And they did it without Russell Okung, the left tackle who limped off the field in the drive with a damaged right knee. Little-used newcomer Frank Omiyale subbed in, and the Seahawks will await word on the big man’s injury fate for the third time in his misbegotten career.

In the final drive,Wilson hit seven of his first nine passes — including a 15-yard completion on third-and-14 to a fellow rookie, Charly Martin — before the first of two Arizona pass interference penalties gave the Seahawks a first down at the Arizona 13 with 52 seconds left.

But that’s when the shortened field takes its toll on inexperience. His final five passes fell incomplete, the drive preserved only by the second PI penalty, this one on Arizona DB William Gay for a first down at the Arizona 4.

Wilson, who finished 18 for 34 for 153 yards, a TD and a pick, knows he’s still opening the college physics book in the middle. This is the NFL, where rookie starters don’t have the luxury of beginning at the beginning.

“I have to go through my reads quicker, that’s the main thing,” he said. “In the red zone, the windows are a lot shorter, and I have to be smarter.

“I felt great about the opportunities we had. We just fell short. The defense and special teams did a great job helping us out.”

In fact, that was how Carroll had scripted the 2012 season: Defense first, running game and special teams second, offense third. The script ran close to reality in the opener.

Go back to the first possession, when a 50-yard field goal was short because an Arizona defender put a finger on the kick. Make that field goal, and the Seahawks need only a field goal on the final drive, not a miracle touchdown drive of 80 yards from a rookie QB that was four yards short.

As always in close games, the if/then situations are many that decide outcomes. But the takeaway in from this one is that the “if” is no longer around Wilson, only the when.


YourThoughts

  • PokeyPuffy

    Thanks Art, cheez it is like torture for the Hawks to score a TD.   I kinda blame Bevel for this, the play calling was just 2 notches too conservative.   Through the course of the game the run focus didn’t yield any timely results (i.e. big first downs or TD’s) and it seems to take Wilson out of his rythm .   And the run is fairly useless when playing from behind in the last 2 minutes. 

    Hope i’m wrong but i think either win or lose this particular game, this will not be the powerhouse season we were all hoping for.  And hate to say it but SF is looking fabulous…

    • Artthiel

      I said last week that the Seahawks would lose the opener and still make the playoffs. It was too much to ask of Wilson and Sweezy in the first week. Plus Baldwin missed most of the preseason. That’s the risk Carroll takes going so young.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Thanks Art, cheez it is like torture for the Hawks to score a TD.   I kinda blame Bevel for this, the play calling was just 2 notches too conservative.   Through the course of the game the run focus didn’t yield any timely results (i.e. big first downs or TD’s) and it seems to take Wilson out of his rythm .   And the run is fairly useless when playing from behind in the last 2 minutes. 

    Hope i’m wrong but i think either win or lose this particular game, this will not be the powerhouse season we were all hoping for.  And hate to say it but SF is looking fabulous…

    • Artthiel

      I said last week that the Seahawks would lose the opener and still make the playoffs. It was too much to ask of Wilson and Sweezy in the first week. Plus Baldwin missed most of the preseason. That’s the risk Carroll takes going so young.

  • Frankiecappuccino

    How do we not hand the ball to Marshawn 4 times with 1st & Goal for the win?

    • Jamo57

      No time outs (though they gave us one we didn’t have).

    • Artthiel

       Can’t get off that many rushing plays in the time allowed — can’t always count on free timeouts.

  • Frankiecappuccino

    How do we not hand the ball to Marshawn 4 times with 1st & Goal for the win?

    • Jamo57

      No time outs (though they gave us one we didn’t have).

    • Artthiel

       Can’t get off that many rushing plays in the time allowed — can’t always count on free timeouts.

  • notaboomer

    if only wilson could have twisted his ankle and let flynn come in for the win. 

    • Artthiel

       As I mentioned above, on this day, Flynn may have gotten the final red zone touchdown. Purely a function of experience. That situation was asking a lot of Wilson.

  • notaboomer

    if only wilson could have twisted his ankle and let flynn come in for the win. 

    • Artthiel

       As I mentioned above, on this day, Flynn may have gotten the final red zone touchdown. Purely a function of experience. That situation was asking a lot of Wilson.

  • jeff

    Why not give Leon a crack at it? Seemed he had some good moves going today.

    • Artthiel

       Leon is always better in the open field than scrimmage, where’s he’s ordinary.

  • jeff

    Why not give Leon a crack at it? Seemed he had some good moves going today.

    • Artthiel

       Leon is always better in the open field than scrimmage, where’s he’s ordinary.

  • RadioGuy

    Wilson was lucky to get those 18 completions, given the lousy “protection” the O-line gave him.  When you’re constantly surrounded by red jerseys before there’s even a pocket to set up in, you’re in for a looooong afternoon.

    And now Okung may be out with his annual injury.  Terrific.  It’s becoming a Rite of Autumn:  The kids are back in school, the leaves on the trees are changing color and Russell Okung gets injured…it’s like a reminder to set our clocks back to Standard Time.

    • Artthiel

       I’m told it’s a sprained knee, not serious. But losing him for the last drive was a factor. Just another inhibitor for Wilson.

  • RadioGuy

    Wilson was lucky to get those 18 completions, given the lousy “protection” the O-line gave him.  When you’re constantly surrounded by red jerseys before there’s even a pocket to set up in, you’re in for a looooong afternoon.

    And now Okung may be out with his annual injury.  Terrific.  It’s becoming a Rite of Autumn:  The kids are back in school, the leaves on the trees are changing color and Russell Okung gets injured…it’s like a reminder to set our clocks back to Standard Time.

    • Artthiel

       I’m told it’s a sprained knee, not serious. But losing him for the last drive was a factor. Just another inhibitor for Wilson.

  • Jamo57

    Art, was it my just imagination that the Cardinals receivers were much more open that the Hawks receivers?  Even in the red zones on the respective drives late in the 4th quarter?

    It seems to me that the Hawks receivers were unable to get any separation forcing Wilson to be just about perfect on his throws, which appeared to me to be in spots only the Hawks receivers could get to.  (With the exception of the one underthrown fade route to the right side).   Of course they would have been difficult catches given the small windows and Wilson having to err on the side away from the DB.

    They overall point being, the Hawks receivers didn’t seem to be able to get much separation for most of the day.   And given the O-Line not giving Wilson a ton of time, I think he performed adequately given the shortcomings around him. 

    • Artthiel

       Wilson was regularly on the move in his first real start. He missed a few windows, but showed a lot with late passes to Miller and Martin. The Seahawks went with pressure on Skelton, leaving receivers in man coverage. The Az D is good, and they disguise well. Flynn probably would have had a better day, but Wilson won’t have a worse one.

  • Jamo57

    Art, was it my just imagination that the Cardinals receivers were much more open than the Hawks receivers?  Even in the red zones on the respective drives late in the 4th quarter?

    It seems to me that the Hawks receivers were unable to get any separation forcing Wilson to be just about perfect on his throws, which appeared to me to be in spots only the Hawks receivers could get to.  (With the exception of the one underthrown fade route to the right side).   Of course they would have been difficult catches given the small windows and Wilson having to err on the side away from the DB.

    They overall point being, the Hawks receivers didn’t seem to be able to get much separation for most of the day and it remains a position group that appears to a continuing area of weakness.   And given the O-Line not giving Wilson a ton of time, I think he performed adequately given the shortcomings around him.

    • Artthiel

       Wilson was regularly on the move in his first real start. He missed a few windows, but showed a lot with late passes to Miller and Martin. The Seahawks went with pressure on Skelton, leaving receivers in man coverage. The Az D is good, and they disguise well. Flynn probably would have had a better day, but Wilson won’t have a worse one.

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  • Brian Dadant

    If Matt Flynn played we would have won. It is time to end the Pete Carroll era. Every his teams are NOT prepared for the season opener. He chose to play Wilson over Flynn. We committed way to many penalties. This all proves he isn’t the correct man to be our head coach.

  • Brian Dadant

    If Matt Flynn played we would have won. It is time to end the Pete Carroll era. Every his teams are NOT prepared for the season opener. He chose to play Wilson over Flynn. We committed way to many penalties. This all proves he isn’t the correct man to be our head coach.

  • Old Goat

    How In the world does Flynn make the catch for Edwards?
    What is the long term upside for the two QBs ? Only time and experience will tell. By the way with poor protection Wilson extended plays where Flynn may have been sacked. Thanks for the outlook Art.

  • Old Goat

    How In the world does Flynn make the catch for Edwards?
    What is the long term upside for the two QBs ? Only time and experience will tell. By the way with poor protection Wilson extended plays where Flynn may have been sacked. Thanks for the outlook Art.

  • Pixeldawg13

    Well, as usual, the backup QB is the most popular man in town.  Had Flynn played–and been sacked at least 3 times more than Wilson was–we’d be seeing the same posters howling because Wilson didn’t play.

    And what’s with these people who don’t grasp the concept of “no timeouts left”? 

  • Pixeldawg13

    Well, as usual, the backup QB is the most popular man in town.  Had Flynn played–and been sacked at least 3 times more than Wilson was–we’d be seeing the same posters howling because Wilson didn’t play.

    And what’s with these people who don’t grasp the concept of “no timeouts left”?