BY Art Thiel 06:39PM 10/02/2016

Thiel: Pocket passer Wilson slashes Jets

For two gimpy guys, QB Russell Wilson and TE Jimmy Graham ran their gurneys over the Jets 27-17 Sunday in another display of substantial growth of the Seahawks offense.

TE Jimmy Graham pulls in a one-handed catch against the Jets’ Marcus Williams Sunday at MetLife Stadium. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

For a guy whom some thought should have sat out the game Sunday in New Jersey to take care of himself, he chose instead to take care of the New York Jets. QB Russell Wilson seems to get almost as much joy proving skeptics wrong as he does winning games.

After the 27-17 win over New York at MetLife Stadium Sunday, a game that bordered on the routine, coach Pete Carroll, backed by Wilson’s 309-yard game with three touchdown passes despite a sore ankle and a sprained knee ligament, decided to swing a cudgel on behalf of his quarterback.

Because Wilson didn’t have all of his trademark mobility, most of his success came from the pocket, from where he completed many of his 23 passes for a 133.5 rating. That spoke for itself, but Carroll chose to amplify.

“All of those guys who say he can’t throw from the pocket don’t know what they’re talking about — they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Carroll said emphatically. “Must be something they said a long time ago, and they’re still defending. He can throw it from anywhere and it doesn’t matter.”

Carroll didn’t mention names of the miscreant critics. But he could well have called out Manish Mehta, who wrote this Sunday in the New York Daily News:

“Wilson isn’t nearly as awesome as his Puget Sound loyalists believe, so it’s ludicrous to think that he’ll be able to hobble into MetLife Stadium on a gimpy left knee and right ankle on Sunday and have his way with the Jets.”

Add that one to the “Dewey Beats Truman” category of major media whiffs.

But some latitude must be granted. Even people in Seattle didn’t think he should play.

Nor was Wilson the lone Seahawk to have his resilience and recovery misjudged. TE Jimmy Graham, presumed doomed to mediocrity in his first year after patellar tendon knee surgery, blew away the Jets with six catches and 113 yards.

To the Jets, the tender tandem was all nunchucks and switchblades.

“I don’t know what to say about Jimmy — he’s just a monster out there,” Carroll said. “Back-to-back weeks of tremendous plays. You can see Russell believing in him. Putting the ball in places where he can go up and get them.

“Exquisite throws, and the finishes by Jimmy were marvelous.”

The Wilson-Graham pairing suddenly has blossomed in the past two games. The timing was most helpful in the continuing injury absence 0f top rusher Thomas Rawls.

As Wilson put it, “Jimmy is a bad, bad man.”

Carroll was unusually thrilled too.

“I don’t know how much more you could do to demonstrate Jimmy is back than the last two weeks,” he said. “Every catch is extraordinary in some way.

“I can’t say we expected it. We just hoped for him. He did such an extraordinary job getting right and getting well, just like Russell.”

It can work only with growth in the offensive line, which limited the Jets’ formidable front to two sacks of Wilson. Sunday featured the first regular-season game at right guard for rookie first-rounder Germain Ifedi. He was schooled on several plays, but the pass protection was good enough to allow completions on 10 of Wilson’s first 11 passes, including second-quarter TDs to two newcomers, WR Tanner McEvoy and RB C.J. Spiller, for a 14-3 lead.

The lead allowed the Seahawks defense to prey on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, still shaken from a six-interception disaster the previous week against Kansas City. They picked him three more times and dropped him four times.

The heralded matchup between Jets WR Brandon Marshall and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman lived up to expectations. Marshall burned Sherman on a 17-yard TD pass, one of four catches four 89 yards. But Sherman had his first two interceptions of the season.

The Jets managed 133 yards after halftime, 42 of which came a freaky, 42-yard fumble recovery touchdown by WR Charone Peake, who picked up what the Seahawks thought was an incomplete pass after a sack by Cliff Avril.

After four games,defensive prowess has become an expectation.

“Other than the fourth quarter last week, our guys have been stellar,” Carroll said. “They hold up, down after down after down. That’s what we count on every week. It all starts up front.”

At the quarter pole, the Seahawks are 3-1 heading into a bye week that seems well timed for healing of relatively minor injuries.

“The old adage is you want to be undefeated going into the bye — we didn’t get that done,” Carroll said. “Next thing is, you want to be in first place. We’ll see what happens. And the final thing is you want to go into the bye with a win.”

Two out of three seems t0 work. And three out of four might be appropriate if inclusion of another adage is permitted: Never underestimate Russell Wilson, because you will be told you don’t know what you’re talking about.



  • 1coolguy

    To all the weak kneed RW doubters this week, my comment is “In Pete, John and RW We Trust”.
    What is scary is RW will come back even healthier and the O line is looking better each week, so this looks like another SB run!

    • art thiel

      Not sure about that, but it’s better than being 1-3 like AZ and CAR.

      • 1coolguy

        Not sure about who we trust or we are on a SB run?

  • Diamond Mask

    Was it me or were we playing the Jets and the stripes today? Seemed a bit one sided and many of the calls seemed to save the Jets when they needed it most. I love how focused the Hawks seem right now.

    • art thiel

      The PI on Sherman when Marshall did the shoving was bad, but it was like any other game.

      The Seahawks are increasingly dialed in.

      • John M

        Beyond the chippy calls on the Seahawks it was frustrating to watch the Jets not getting called for flagrant stuff. Other than that the guys played well and made it a fun game to watch, and you described the highlights well. The O-line is getting incrementally better. This was a game the Jets desperately needed to win.

        Since you always catch me, have to add you must have a twitch in the second shortest finger of your right hand to hit the 0 so squarely . . .

      • Pixdawg13

        All game long, Marshall was shoving Sherm–but the contact went both ways, so the plethora of non-calls there was good. The idiotic PI call sort of suggested that the zebras had the Jets plus the points.

        But this game overall was officiated very much in ‘homer’ fashion.

  • 1coolguy

    “Redemption of the Game Award” goes to Sherman.
    After he had his back to the ball on the TD to Marshall (VERY unlike Sherm) he kept an eye on the ball in the second half and got 2 picks.

    • Kirkland

      I’d like to see Sherman’s ration of interceptions to touchdowns conceded, and how that compares to his contemporaries or predecessors.

  • PokeyPuffy

    The O looked so good i find myself hoping the running game stays on the back burner.

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  • Nice post, Art. Never underestimate Russell Wilson, Indeed. There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as watching Russell completely ignore the catcalls from the peanut gallery and just play his game. Then, in his after game comments, he brushed aside the hyperbole and gave credit to everybody else.

    The game within the game – Sherman versus Marshall – was excellent as well. Two great pros played their butts off against each other. Excellent.

    That was a fun game.

    • art thiel

      True, Ray. I hope people reflect on the smaller things that make the game so interesting beyond cheering for the hometown team.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Mehta seems to have recanted, if only on twitter….

    It is interesting how hard some memes die. For the lazy journalist, they are convenient substitutes for actual journalism. And the east coast/west coast dialectic particularly seems to come into play in this regard when it comes to sports.

    Mehta wasn’t saying that Wilson was great, but would be hampered and therefore the Hawks could be beaten. He was saying Wilson wasn’t great, AND would be hampered, so the Hawks SHOULD be beaten. No “latitude” from this quarter on that one.

    The cognitive dissonance on this subject is so marked that I predict in a couple weeks Mehta will forget his tweeted admission of error, and retreat to the comfort of his original meme, rationalizing that Wilson looked so good only because the Jets are so bad. Such is the way of entrenched narratives…..

    • art thiel

      There is much to your theory. I would also add that it is an outgrowth of the business collapse of the industry. Journalists are now asked to produce content at a measured rate that discourages the making of calls, the study of video or the search of records. Just post something that has clickbait, e.g., Wilson is overrated and no match for local 11.

      • Pixdawg13

        “Journalists” mostly aren’t, any more. I know from journalists, being from a line of newspaper people (my Mom worked at the P-I until her cancer made her unable to work) and there are very few around now. SPNW has two–as well as one of the better sports historians I’ve read.

  • Warchild_70

    Great read Art, Jimmy G played like a man possessed, Shermanator got his tuckus lit up then Fitz did the unthinkable and tried it a third time and if that wasn’t enough one more with the same results E Z pickens. CJ did not look rusty at all but like a polished RB ready to work. I close with my favorite part of the game, “His arm was moving FORWARD!!!” Alas it went on deaf ears good try though Earl everyone from New Jersey to Washington and parts between must have heard it save the Zebras.

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