BY Art Thiel 08:16PM 10/14/2012

Thiel: Seahawks Wilson ‘out-Bradys’ Tom Brady

In the battle of No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense, the Seahawks stoppers prevailed, barely — thanks to QB Russell Wilson coming of age in the sixth game of his rookie year.

Braylon Edwards grabs a 10-yard pass from Russell Wilson for a touchdown with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter Sunday at the Clink. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Much was rightly made Sunday of the feat of Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, reaching 800 mph without the need of a vehicle. Even the Seahawks, according to coach Pete Carroll, watched awe-struck on locker-room TVs as the feat unfolded pre-game.

Then the Seahawks performed their own feat. It wasn’t as spectacular, of course, but it was impressive in a different way — instead of going 800 mph straight down, the Seahawks went 800 mph straight up, and also lived to tell about it.

The Seahawks quarterback, little Russell Wilson, looked like big Tom Brady, firing two touchdown passes in the game’s final seven minutes to produce a dumbfounding 24-23 triumph over the New England Patriots that defied all sorts of NFL gravity.

This time, there were no asterisks applied by the dubiousness of replacement refs. No one was questioning the Seahawks’ ability, integrity or fortune. The only external factor was booster rockets applied by 68,137 adherents who stood in the rain, screaming. They are, in fact, the regulation fans.

They saw a most irregular, harrowing outcome.

Instead of Brady, the man of many memorable comebacks, it was Wilson who launched his team after slogging through a turgid second half to deliver the performance of his abbreviated football career, staggering the Super Bowl-bejeweled Pats.

“The lift — you could see it in our players — as we were finishing the game was really something to make you proud as a coach,” said Carroll, whose four-speed oral transmission found a fifth gear. “It really took every play, every kick, every rush — everything we did had to happen like it that, for us to have a chance.

“I just loved the way we rallied on both sides of the ball and special teams, knowing that we had a chance to win. It’s a big statement for this young team — more so because (of New England and) the championships ways they know.

“Russell played a fantastic game today.”

For five weeks, the more impatient Seahawks fans waited for the expectations heaped upon Russell by Carroll’s decision to start him over Matt Flynn to pay off. Wilson delivered Sunday.

Free of the fumbles and interceptions that hurt him earlier, and sacked only twice behind improved protection, Wilson had a QB rating of 133.7, hitting on 16 of 27 passes for a career-high 293 yards and three touchdowns (Brady’s rating was 79.3). He led fourth quarter TD drives of 83 and 57 yards, the latter concluding with a 46-yard strike to a wide-open Sidney Rice at the goal line with 1:18 remaining. The touchdown, followed by Steven Hauschka’s decisive extra point, sent ripples through the stadium that tectonically resembled the Beast Quake of the 2010 playoffs.

“I was in awe, man. In awe,” said teammate Richard Sherman of Wilson on the final drive. “He was a magician, he was magnificent. That’s the reason he was starting. A lot of people have been doubting him. He shut ‘em all down today. He beat Tom Brady, he beat Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), he beat Tony Romo (Dallas). Not a lot of rookies do that.”

Wilson was his usual modest self, but did have a sense of the moment.

“It was unbelievable just to be here in this atmosphere and play the New England Patriots in CenturyLink,” said Wilson, who radiated post-game delight. On the fateful pass to Rice: “He ran a great route. I just tried to put it in a spot where only he could catch it.

“I think he squeezed it with four hands, even though he didn’t have four hands.”

The Seahawks’ score left it to the defense to keep Brady out of field goal range in the final 1:14. They did it in four smothering plays, including a sack. In the second half, New England was held to just a pair of field goals despite putting a dent in the numbers that made the Seahawks the No. 1-rated defense entering the game.

The Pats had 475 yards, but two interceptions of Brady, plus six penalties for 80 yards, including a 40-yard pass-interference call, compromised the No. 1-rated offense.

“We wanted everyone to see why we’re No. 1 is the league, and it was validated in the crucial moments,” said defensive end Red Bryant. “We hung tight, going against a Hall of Fame QB. He made plays, lots of plays, but today we made one more than he did.”

Notably absent in the Patriots attack was heavy use of the no-huddle, which they had deployed successfully in the previous three games. At least some of the change in playcalling was attributed to the din that diminished the ability to call plays on the move. They also lost a chance at three points at the end of the first half when Brady was called for intentional grounding, a penalty that has a mandatory 10-second runoff, which denied a final-second field goal attempt that proved pivotal.

But there was an external factor that made the Patriots seem less than sharp.

“The chaos made it difficult,” said Bryant. “They couldn’t go to their speed game like they wanted to. The crowd really bothered them. The roar . . . this is special place. If (the Patriots) are honest, I know they’d say the crowd did have an effect on their game.”

The ever-emotional Bryant was so wound up in the late going that, after an incomplete pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski, Bryant engaged into a finger-pointing shouting match with the All-Pro tight end.

“We’d been battling all game long,” Bryant said. “I have a lot of respect for him. He really completed. But I just had to let him know how I felt.”

How did you feel, Red?

“I told him,” said the beaming 340-pounder, “that I was going to whip his ass.”

Don’t know if that actually happened. And certainly a one-point win at home does not meet the definition. But the afternoon’s primal development was when the Seahawks passing offense began to get it.

With a short week to the next game in San Francisco Thursday night, the time is upon them to memorize it.

Then the possibility arises of breaking open a can of whupass on a weekly basis.


YourThoughts

  • Tim M.

    Great column and game! Wilson is growing up before our eyes. What beautiful, deep passes he throws when he has time, and then there’s that rush for a first down in the first half when he was almost sacked. Total team effort!
    The tide is turning…

    • art thiel

      Wilson is one of the most extraordinary football players I’ve encountered in the ability to process information and situations. Not to mention having a gift for dealing with people.

  • PokeyPuffy

    agree those deep balls look great but the NE safeties are definitely the weak link of their D. I most enjoyed the picks, it is great to watch Brady sulk on the sidelines after he screws up. I think it could have been much worse for NE, Earl Thomas almost had at least one other int that was dropped.
    Overall refreshing to see more pass oriented play calling. It allows RW to get into a tempo with his receivers.

    I like our secondary up against Alex Smith on thursday, lets hope for 2 more picks. Who would think, a meaningful NFC WEst game in October!

    • art thiel

      You’re right about the weak link. NE hoped to compensate with front seven pressure, but protection held up better than it has all year, and Wilson is getting wiser about using his legs. Seasons are year-long evolutions with 16 weekly outcomes. We all read too much into each game, but the significance can’t be missed.

  • jerry

    Saw you slipped a “turgid” in there. Madam Fab would be proud.

    • art thiel

      Ah, Madam Fabulina. A wordsmithtress of the highest caliber.

  • Matt712

    Going into this game, Marshawn Lynch needed to have a big day to eat clock and keep Brady & co. off the field; defense needed to get sacks on the line and stop Wes Welker in the seams; special teams needed to establish the advantage of field position – all strengths so far…… so, of course, none of that happened!

    Instead, these confounding Seahawks did what everyone in the stadium except for the Patriots were afraid of: they went to the air. New England actually executed its game plan well. But there were two factors they underestimated: the cacophony of #12 and the indomitable confidence of #3.

    When a team like the New England Patriots can execute its game plan and still get beat, that’s something. The Seahawks beating them with the part of their team know one else thought could…. That’s really something!

    • art thiel

      Good points Matt. Gotta be able to go off-script. Credit Carroll and Bevell for pushing Wilson and WRs to understand where to be in the event of trouble.

  • none

    great game. one of the best in that stadium thus far. hopefully the hawks can keep bringing something to the party.

    good article, Art.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for reading. Please tell your friends.

  • Jamo57

    It will be interesting to see how many gears Superlative Pete has in him. What if this team wins 5 or 6 in a row? He may just blow a cylinder.

    As for the noise, apparently Tom Brady and the Pats color commentator pulled out the old accusation the Seahawks enhance the stadium noise by piping in additional crowd noise. The Patriots accusing another team of cheating? How could they come up with such a theory? Maybe they videotaped it before the game.

    • art thiel

      I thought the artificial noise conspiracy was so 2000′s.

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  • 1coolguy

    Wow – what a game by Wilson! Looks like he’s teh real deal. the Niners beter watch out, especially since the O-Line seems to be improving.
    I am a Hawks fan, but it was too bad that Sherman was so class less in berating Brady- it’s like it’s the first win he’s ever been a part of. Very tacky Richard.

    • art thiel

      Sherman’s trash-talk is pretty standard, and he takes the risk of having to back it every game. I don’t think he crossed the line. But I’m guessing that will happen soon enough.

  • the editor

    In Red Bryant’s quote you use “have an affect” which is incorrect. You mean to use “effect” as the noun. “Affect” is the verb”.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for caring, Ed. Known the diff since I was 10. Haste makes fools of us all.

  • Roger

    I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere the incredible protection Wilson had on that last pass play. There actually was one Seahawk lineman in there who was looking around for someone to hit. Never seen that before!

  • http://www.facebook.com/VUNINHO07 Vu Nguyen

    GO HAWKS!!!