BY Art Thiel 12:20AM 11/16/2018

Thiel: Apprentice has a finish to top the master

Star QBs Wilson and Rodgers had their problems, but Wilson got over his to finish well, helping Seahawks win for the first time in four games against the Packers.

TE Ed Dickson found the void in the Packers’ defense for the game-winning score. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Entering the game, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were ranked N0. 1 and No. 2 in quarterback passer rating. Career. In NFL history.

So this is what happened Thursday night on national TV.

Wilson threw a backward pass that went forward, and a forward pass that went backward. Rodgers, on third-and-two on the Packers 33-yard line with 4:20 left that represented the final chance for Green Bay to win, chunked a pass maybe six yards into the Clink’s rubberized dirt that might have been the worst pressure pass of his illustrious career.

As noted philosopher Mick Jagger once wrote, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you find you get what you need.

Especially if you were the Seahawks.

The duel between big-time quarterbacks was less than dazzling. But it was Wilson who turned early disaster into late euphoria. Trailing 14-3, the Seahawks belatedly went Seattle old school — withering ground game, smothering defense — and pulled out a 27-24 triumph (box) significant on several levels.

They evened their record at 5-5, beat an NFC rival for a wild-card berth for the first time in the series’ past four meetings, ended a two-game losing streak and in the second half held the Packers to three points and three first downs.

And they finished.

With the game on the line and trailing 24-20 inside nine minutes, the Seahawks blasted down the field 75 yards in seven plays, finishing with a 15-yard touchdown hookup between Wilson and TE Ed Dickson that was a paradigm of perfect play call and execution.

The almost effortless drive contrasted with the recent losses to the Chargers and Rams, when Wilson’s trademark fourth-quarter superpowers fizzed, burbled, crackled and flopped.

“Russ came back,” said coach Pete Carroll. “He didn’t hit some stuff early on, and then came back and played a fantastic game.

“At 14-3, it didn’t look very good.”

A fumble lost by RB Chris Carson on Seattle’s first scrimmage play turned into a 29-yard Packers touchdown drive. Wilson helped get the Seahawks down to the Packers 21 before throwing two of the most misguided passes of his career, missing open WRs Doug Baldwin and David Moore by acres.

After settling for a field goal, Carroll approached Wilson on the sideline.

“Basically, he was trying to say calm down,” Wilson said. “I said, ‘Hey, I’m good. I’m great.’ I feel confident in what we’re going to do.”

Wilson then described one of Carroll’s homilies about Rick Barry, the NBA scoring champion at Golden State when Carroll was an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.

“He said, ‘If he’s missing some, then watch out,” Wilson said. “I just believe that I know what I’m capable of. Great things can happen.”

After the desultory start, Wilson in the second half went 8 for 12 for 113 yards and no turnovers. To coin a phrase, he Barryed the Packers.

Wilson, who finished 21 of 31 for 205 yards, even rediscovered his old touchdown companion, Baldwin, who scored for the first time this season after an injury-hampered start.

“I wanted to get him involved — he’s a superstar,” Wilson said. “Me and him have thrown a lot of balls together and scored a lot of touchdowns together.”

Baldwin had a team-high seven receptions. The 52 yards were modest, but the production was the best he’s had this season, creating the prospect of a second-half asset to supplement the running game that had another big output (173 yards on 35 carries).

“Getting that touchdown, yes, made me ecstatic to be able to celebrate with my teammates,” Baldwin said. “It’s been a struggle.”

On defense, the Seahawks sacked Rodgers five times and held the Packers to 48 yards rushing. They surrendered to Rodgers two over-the-top bombs that seemingly only he can throw, of 57 and 54 yards, picking on young CBs Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. Those kinds of missteps in the secondary are simply something the Seahawks have to live with until the kids earn their stripes.

But at the end of the game, Rodgers was the one who faltered. As the crowd 69,007, populated by a surprisingly robust contingent of cheeseheads, stood waiting for another tear in the space-time continuum, Rodgers’ easy third-down throw went nowhere.

The explanation was unique, maybe in football history: He said the ball stuck to his hand.

“I’ve done that (pass) a hundred times and probably never do that again,” he said. “It was a gimme out there. Stuck to my hand.”

The failure was even more inexplicable than Wilson’s misfires. But given the fact that it was a game on Thursday night, where quality football each week goes to die in the name of ownership greed, the absurd is normal. In fact, this game was relatively well-played, especially given that the Packers flew Tuesday after their Sunday win, and practiced at decrepit Memorial Stadium.

“The short week is tough, because you don’t really get to talk through every single look you expect to see,” said Rodgers, whose team fell to 4-5-1.

Carroll, however, glimpsed a look he liked.

We see,” he said, “the whole thing coming together.”

Much remains to be proven, but it starts with a finish.


  • Ron

    Two pass reception gifts from the officiating crew didn’t hurt, either. Perhaps the same crew that called the Fail Mary? Anyway, we’ll take the W.

    • art thiel

      This crew was not a replacement crew. They were simply adjusting to the rules changes to passing that change game to game.

      • Ron

        Tongue-in-cheek. Also the injuries to the Packers helped. Jimmy Graham broke his thumb. Packers suffered the same Thursday fate that the Hawks did last year.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    What a game .Don’t know what it sounded like on TV but the cheeseheads were full throated tonight in the stadium . Funny thing is , damn near every time they chanted Go Pack Go , we got a first down or a big gain . My jaw pretty much hit the floor when Russ missed the touchdown ; I’ve never seen a man more wide open in my life .

    Packers burned their time outs early ; cost ’em the game . Fun one to watch – thank God we got the W . Stayin’ Alive ..

    • art thiel

      Everyone was shocked at the degree of overthrow. Hey, even Jordan Spieth flies a green now and then.

    • WestCoastBias79

      We’ll call the Russ miss the Karmic payment that bought the Rogers 3rd down miss. I have a feeling the rest of the NFC is going to miss McCarthy kind of like how we all miss Jeff Fisher. Then again, maybe they’ll hire a Patriots assistant.

  • ll9956

    This game struck me as one of the most complete wins I can recall. After a catastrophic start, which resulted in a 14-3 deficit, the Hawks pulled themselves together. Offense, defense and special teams all did what they needed to do to get the win. Especially significant was the stops by the defense in the fourth quarter and the two super-critical first downs in the last four minutes, which allowed the Hawks to run out the clock rather than give the ball back to the Packers. That would have undoubtedly risked numerous cases of cardiac distress.

    • art thiel

      Part of the credit should to McCarthy, whose decision to punt at 4th-and-2 may be a final straw that gets him fired.

  • marmoto

    It’s amazing that Wilson’s career numbers don’t receive more recognition. Also amazing that Kaepernick is #16 and can’t get a job.

    • Diamond Mask

      Because the NFL and their minions in TV create stats developed specifically to a “theme” for any game. It’s usually themed around 1 or 2 “special” players. They’ve never really taken to Russ in the same way they’re obviously taken with others. I used to think they got a nickel every time they managed to mention Peyton, Brett or Aaron. All lovely white men.

      • art thiel

        All you mentioned have been around long enough to become friends with the broadcasters. Wilson’s still relatively a kid.

    • art thiel

      The comparisons are always with more seasons. With age comes veneration and affection. Unless, of course, you get cut.

    • Kristafarian

      “Also amazing that Kaepernick is #16 and can’t get a job.”

      That IS amazing. But, as The Prez always says,
      there’s no collusion.

      Welcome to the Plantation.

  • coug73

    The Hawk second half was a thing of beauty. Nice to see Baldwin contribute. A team victory and now a well deserved rest.

    • art thiel

      Baldwin’s health is a bigger factor than most realize. Wilson needs him.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    Boy, what an u-g-l-y game for a while. Clean up the early mistakes and this becomes a dominant, multiple score win for the Hawks. The D’s ability to adjust and clamp down in the second half is impressive as is getting to be a thing. Nice to see Russ right the ship, show his stuff, and Baldwin was a stud, among others.

    Good time to restart the home dominance and winning streak – just need a bit more crowd noise – c’mon those-who-call-yourselves-twelves!

  • Kevin Lynch

    One down and two to go, regarding opponents with NFC wild card potential. Weird season, with Atlanta, Philly and Green Bay not looking like they will be there in the end. But two teams likely will – Carolina and Minnesota – and the Hawks play both, so they have control over what’s likely to happen. Beat those two and win your division games and you’re probably in. Don’t need the Kansas City game. But too much should not be taken from the Packer game as they are now 0-5 on the road this year and, by the way, the five teams the Hawks have beaten all have losing records. Four of the five teams the Hawks have beaten have winning records. A win on the road in Carolina would be huge.

  • Diamond Mask

    Pretty depressing start but great ending. Aaron Rodgers is a damn good QB and we’re lucky to escape with a win. That 3rd and 2 pass was a gift delivered by hometown karma or perhaps Paul Allen intervened.

    The running game is absolutely key. When we got the ball back at the end of the game everybody knew we were going to run it. When it really works, when your offensive line looks at the opposing defense and says “Alright lunger, let’s do it” and then proceeds to shove the football down their throats……It’s a beautiful thing. Last night Howie Long mentioned our offensive line played to the whistle and sometimes beyond and when clueless Terry says what does that mean he replied that it means they’re a little salty.
    I won’t mention the false starts because that is still a complete mystery to me.

    One other thing. Troy Aikmen needs to just STHU. After a sack by Frank Clark he said Frank was like a bull in a china shop. Yeah sure Troy. Just a big dumb lucky guy. Also the Tide commercials are so appallingly bad…please stop.

    • art thiel

      The false starts were caused in part by Packers D-linemen mimicking Wilson’s count. That’s supposed to be a penalty, but it’s rarely called. Duane Brown said they went to silent counts a few times.

    • antirepug3

      Buck and Aikmen would do much better sticking to calling roller derby games rather than football.

      • art thiel

        Nobody ever writes when a broadcaster does well.

  • Buggy White

    Has anyone asked how a fourth-string tight end got open for a long TD pass?

    • antirepug3

      Some one or more defenders watching the game instead of watching and sticking to their pass coverage.

    • art thiel

      No Earl Thomas.

  • Warchild_70

    Good read Art, the rookies need more game time to become a Sherman, Kam or even a Graham. But it did look dismal to start and Dangeruss needs to rein in those into earth orbit pass’s.

    • art thiel

      As you saw at the end, even great ones screw up.

  • Kristafarian

    “But if you try sometime, you Just Might find you get what you need.” –Uncle Mick

    You just might Not find, too, but that really isn’t the point.