BY Art Thiel 09:21PM 11/22/2015

Thiel: Seahawks’ Wilson, O-line rise to occasion

Thomas Rawls and Tyler Lockett were sensational, but it took QB Russell Wilson regaining form for the Seahwks offense to look as if the season may emerge from mediocrity.

QB Russell Wilson had a grip on himself and the offense Sunday against the 49ers that was uncommon this season. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

As critics kept throwing logs on the fire burning up the Seahawks offense, QB Russell Wilson wagged his finger.

“I kept telling you guys we really weren’t far off,” he told reporters Sunday. Well, sure, after unloading the burden of the Beast, any team should be able to put up 500 yards. And complete 24 of 29 passes. And make no turnovers and lose just 51 yards in penalties.

Hey, who needs Marshawn Lynch? Who needs more than three healthy veteran receivers? Who needs experienced linemen? Hell, who needs Jimmy Graham?

Sunday afternoon, the Seahawks turned nearly all seasonal negatives into positives. In fact, it took Wilson a double negative to explain how the positive presented itself.

“You don’t want to not have Marshawn,” he said. “At the same time, you have a tremendous rookie.”

For once, Wilson wasn’t hyperbolic. The injured Lynch’s replacement, Thomas Rawls, was tremendous, cracking ribs and face masks for 209 rushing yards and another 46 receiving, one of the great individual performances in team history.

Yes, the 29-13 win came against the woebegone San Francisco 49ers, who these days are much more Bruce Banner than The Hulk. But they are licensed providers of tackles in the NFL, yet could not do many tackles in the Seahawks first three drives, all producing touchdowns.

That’s right — three trips, three TDs to start a game. It’s the first time that’s happened for Seattle since 2005, a 41-3 win over the 49ers in the days of road graders Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.

For a team this season that looked at the red zone as day hikers might see the Mojave Desert, the feat was a big deal. And as dazzling as were Rawls and his fellow rookie, WR Tyler Lockett (two touchdowns apiece), credit for the renaissance resides primarily with Wilson.

Since he was seen as the chief perpetrator of the malaise, it’s only fair.

Mildly criticized in public by Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, harpooned by talk show callers and local and national media for his celebrity life, Wilson responded with his best game of the season.

“Russell had a really good day today,” Carroll said. “Great decisions, taking care of the football, and hitting almost everything.

“Really good poise in the pocket, really good job of picking when he needed to get out of there.”

In other words, doing throughout the game what he did merely in bits and pieces in a ragged 4-5 start to the season. His 138.5 passer rating was the third-highest of his career, and the 82.8 completion percentage was the highest of his career. Lots of throws were in the flat or on quick slants, but that worked because other Seahawks receivers, including the reluctant Graham, blocked well downfield to extend the gains.

But it all started with the offensive line, which is true for all teams.

“I know we worked really well together today,” Carroll said of a manageable two-sack game. “We were able to get the ball out and not get nailed back there. We certainly have improved in the last three weeks.

“It’s about time.”

The nascent growth to which Carroll referred is four sacks total against Dallas, Arizona and San Francisco. Help sometimes came in the form of max protection calls, as well as shorter pass routes. But the consequences of the compromises started Sunday to morph into a steady drumbeat of third-down conversions (8-for-14).

The Seahawks didn’t try for many big plays — the longest passing gain of 31 yards to Rawls was a throw of 10 yards, and Rawls did the rest brilliantly. But the aspiration is to work the game plan to the talents available.

In game 10, they figured most of it out.

As for Wilson, he said predictably that the outside criticism was irrelevant.

“I ignore the noise and focus on what we can control,” he said. “I’m not distracted by anything else. We needed this week, but at the same time, we have another one next week.”

That one, at home against the 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers coming off a bye week, will provide a more reputable test.

The 5-5 Seahawks until now have had an odd calendar that testifies to their mediocrity. The have beaten five teams with losing records, and lost to five teams with winning records. So it has been largely a three-month wash.

Which is fine with Carroll.

“We’re OK about starting right now, if that’s what it is,” he said. “We have a chance to be a good team. We’ve seen enough good play throughout the season to know that. It’s consistency that needs to come to the front, and the ability to close out.

“Today was exactly how wanted to do it.”

Remarkably, they did it without Lynch, who is flying to Philadelphia Monday to see a specialist in sports hernias. If his ailment proves serious enough to require surgery, such news would have been seen as a seasonal disaster.

Now, with Rawls in ascent and Wilson in gear, it is possible to suggest that Lynch take his time and get well.



  • PokeyPuffy

    good to have a win but even for a bad team the niners did not have much fight in them. Poor tackling tells alot about a team’s effort

    • MrPrimeMinister

      the fact that the game was just a sliver away from being 23-17 at one point means there is still work to be done.

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  • Just Another Bullwhip

    I do not have much praise to give when things go good. It just does not fit my personality. But I do appreciate the nod to “road graders” Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. My gosh, that was the most overpowering left side of a line I have ever seen week-in week-out.

  • Gerald Turner

    Rally Round Rawls.

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  • MrPrimeMinister

    To borrow the old g payton line–“it don’t mean nothin.”

  • notaboomer
  • Bayview Herb

    Was I imagining things, or did we lose 3 off linemen to injury during the game?

    • Sonics79

      Three went out, but with stingers or a twisted ankle. They should all be fine by mid-week.

  • Sonics79

    I think it’s also time to give Bevell some credit for devising a pretty solid game plan that utilized his personnel well. The screen to Rawls to start things off was a breath of fresh air.
    I think it’s also time to ask the NFL schedule makers why we have this string of consecutive opponents that are coming off a bye week.

    • jafabian

      IMO, most 12’s didn’t know who Bevell was until last years Super Bowl ending.

  • I love to reminisce about the days of Walter and Hutch. Someone once talked about Shaun Alexander’s rushing in those days and said, Jason Alexander could have rushed for 1000 yards behind those guys.

    It was a fun game, but the 49ers are about meaningless this season. That Tomsula fellow’s facial expression always looks like he showed up at the wrong wedding reception and doesn’t recognize anyone. It’s sad.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    For Seattle to have a favorable run to get them in place to(attempt) to do what the Buffalo Bills did in the early 1990s they need repeat performances of this dismantling of our division rival sunday at the Clink. Like 6 more repeat performances.
    In their SB winning year they had many games like this…they had come from behind performances too…they had gritty wins (at the panthers for instance),
    Repeat performances. They are full of talent. Let us hope they have what it takes mentally to rise above losing so many 4th Qtr leads. A tidy win streak should be all of the tonic for that goal.

  • Cory

    Holmgren should raise flag for Steelers game — 2005 redemption. I know its a week on week league but If Hawks can continue forward with Rawls, beat Steelers and Vikings momentuem is in full swing. There is one common thread of these Hawks teams the last 3 years — They are masters of maximizng momentuem and winning the 2nd half. Both in terms of games and finishing seasons. You saw it happening in the Cards game with those strips on D in the mid 4th q. Yes they have had 4th quarter let downs this season that game included, but it has been in the 1st half of the season. After Steelers / Vikings wins its onto the faltering Rams, no Falco or Foresett Ravens, Browns… and Cards in week 17 who will have already won the west and will be coasting into post season. 2nd half Q4 of the season momentum awaits with Rawls leading the charge. As Collinsworth noted on SNF no one wants to see these guys in the playoffs even as a wildcard team. Go Hawks huge game this Sunday.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Coach H would be the perfect guy for that…
      Guessing he would be glowing if the Hawks prevail. It still wouldn’t bring back the chance for a SB Victory over the Stealers…not even a referees admittance that they totally blew some calls in that game will bring that back.
      But Coach H hoisting it? He is after all a fan of the Hawks… would be a nice link to this game. I like it.

  • ll9956

    This was a great team effort for sure. That said, I have to put on my devil’s advocate hat. In the second half the Hawks allowed SF to complete several long passes. The Niners’ net passing yards (247) was essentially equal to the Hawks’ (253). As MrPrimeMinister pointed out, it ” . . . was just a sliver away from being 23-17 at one point”. And as Art points out they have yet to beat a team with a winning record. Next Sunday will be a major test. I sure hope they pass with flying colors. As for penalties, Art, “just 51 yards” is certainly a strong improvement over last week when they had 132 yards, but it ain’t great. Bottom line is that they will have their hands full with Pittsburgh.


  • 1coolguy

    If Rawls keep this up (49ers have a very weal DL) it gives JS tremendous leverage with Lynch – trade, cut or renegotiate? I hope he stays at a much lower salary (but that may be tough in the locker room) and they move him to SLOT receiver – Beast has good hands and can you imagine him in space, 5-10 yards out? What he would do to DB’s may be ruled illegal by the NFL!
    Otherwise, move on and use his $11M and Harvin’s $7.5M dead money that falls off and put together a real OL. That would be something to see – Wilson and Rawls with real blocking!