BY Art Thiel 09:17PM 11/03/2019

Thiel: Seahawks’ good fortune of Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson accounted for 187 yards on the Seahawks’ final three possessions in the 40-34 win over Tampa in OT. With a lame defense, miracles are mandatory.

TE Jake Hollister was the final-play hero after his game-winning touchdown reception. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Russell Wilson. Fercripesakes.

In terms of mastery of craft, the Seahawks quarterback is approaching a level of enlightenment that is thrilling to the point of chilling.

On the final three possessions of a preposterous 40-34 overtime win over Tampa Bay Sunday, he took the Seahawks on scoring drives of 75, 48 and 70 yards. Except PK Jason Myers missed a potential game-winning field goal on the middle drive, necessitating the third drive in OT.

On those three drives, he completed nine of 13 passes for 166 yards, and added a 21-yard scramble — his only rush of the game — that might have been the most critical improvisation of the afternoon.

That’s 187 yards of offense that produced 13 points to beat the 2-6 Bucs, who probably thought they had won the game at any of a half-dozen junctures, especially since coach Bruce Arians was 4-1 at the Clink from a previous coaching life in Arizona.

But no.

If there was any question that Wilson is the leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award, it vanished faster than one can say, “Jacob Hollister.” Wilson found one of Seahawks’ most obscure players twice for touchdown passes, including the 10-yard game-winner in overtime.

“You know,” said a grinning Hollister, “you have to expect (the ball) every play.”

Since it’s possible, seeing him week after week, year after year, to take Wilson a bit for granted, one of the beneficiaries of his largesse, WR DK Metcalf, shared a bit of post-game conversation he had with the other side, which explained part of why the Seahawks in the off-season made him the game’s highest-paid player.

“He tells me,” said Metcalf of rookie CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, “that I’m lucky I have a guy like Russ running the show back there.”

True that.

Wilson has floated an NFL-average team to 7-2 mostly on his absolute conviction and skill that the offense will score when it matters most. Doesn’t always happen, but the belief in him remains rock-hard around the team. When the coin flip for overtime was won, the game was bank.

“With Russell back there, it don’t matter,” said coach Pete Carroll, unleashing from the grip of grammar. “You have a chance no matter what’s going on. He played phenomenal football today.

“He’s done it so many times. You can’t have a better guy, almost in the history of ball, doing it.”

Some will challenge Carroll’s hyperbole. But Sunday, it was hard to argue with a passer rating of 133.7.

The Seahawks were up against the NFL’s top run defense, so more air ordnance was ordered up in the game plan. Against a team that blitzes more than any other in the NFL, Wilson delivered 29 completions in 43 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns with no turnovers.

His counterpart, Jameis Winston, was nearly as good statistically — 29 of 44 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. But he had one error, which was hardly his fault.

With 10:48 remaining in a tie at 24, Winston dropped back on a third-and-five at Seattle 40 and was was bumped by his left tackle, Donovan Smith, who had been shoved by LB Mychal Kendricks. The loose ball, Tampa’s only turnover, was scooped by Seahawks DE Rasheem Green and returned 36 yards.

The possession produced a Seattle lead from a field goal, which began a fourth-quarter cavalcade of 29 combined points. Winston might have answered, but OT rules say first TD wins.

Despite being unable to draw from his holster, Winston was effusive in his praise of Wilson.

“I just have so much respect for that guy — he’s a winner,” Winston said. “He’s an amazing quarterback. “He’s been an amazing help to me with my development as an NFL quarterback. I just thank him for that.

“I wish we were on the winning end, but he went out there and did his job.”

As always, Wilson had sidekicks: WR Tyler Lockett had career highs in receptions (13) and yards (152), along with two touchdowns, and Metcalf had the best game of his rookie season with six catches and 123 yards, including a spectacular 53-yard TD. Against a stout run defense, RB Chris Carson had a surprising 105 yards in 16 carries, including a 59-yard run that went through four would-be tacklers. He also had two fumbles, one lost.

A partial reason for the gas-pump numbers were due to several in-game injuries that at one point had six rookies populating Tampa’s defense.

“To have the injuries we had at the last second and to take this team to overtime,” said Arians, “I’m really, really proud of our guys. I’m not used to losing here.”

All of Seattle’s firepower was necessary because the defense couldn’t keep up its end. A bad second half against Atlanta the previous week carried into Sunday, allowing in the  Bucs’ first four possessions hree touchdown drives of 75, 69 and 63 yards for a 21-7 lead.  Tampa’s 34 points were a season high against Seattle.

“We struggled quite a bit,” Carroll said. “We thought we would find more ways to get to the quarterback, and we only got him a couple times. We thought we would make more plays on the ball as well.”

Through nine games, it hasn’t happened for the defense, despite Sunday’s debut of what figures to be the safety tandem of the near-term future, with rookie FS Marquise Blair joining veteran SS Bradley McDougald.

Another 418 yards surrendered says that if the Seahawks are to progress in the toughest part of the schedule, including a Nov. 11 Monday night game in Santa Clara against the undefeated 49ers, it will happen because Wilson wills it. Nor is it likely to be helped by Myers, who missed two field goals and an extra point.

“I want to say this: Jason is our kicker,” Carroll said. “It didn’t go right today for him, but it’s going to. He’s a magnificent talent. But we won anyway. Our guys won for him.”

As the media began entering the locker room, Wilson turned to Myers, who dresses next to him, and delivered a bro-hug.

A courtesy gesture, perhaps, but after watching Wilson on the final three Seahawks possessions, there figures to be a line of teammates seeking a laying of hands.

DK Metcalf had a bit of trouble getting to the ball through the grip of Tampa CB Jamel Dean. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest


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YourThoughts

  • Chris Alexander

    Never any doubt. LOL :)

  • Chris Alexander

    On a different note, I find it mind-boggling that the league office signed off on Tampa Bay’s schedule this season. Their last “home” game that was actually AT HOME was way back on September 22nd. Since then, this is what their schedule looked like:

    AT the Rams on 9/29
    AT the Saints on 10/6
    “Home” against the Cardinals on 10/13 … but IN LONDON
    Off on 10/20 (bye week)
    AT Tennessee on 10/27
    AT Seattle on 11/3

    That is downright BRUTAL. Thankfully, they did the Seahawks (and Niners) a favor by hanging 55 points on the Rams. But, unsurprisingly, they went 0-4 over the rest of that stretch.

    I don’t know how much any of that played into today’s game, but I definitely think the league did them a disservice with the schedule.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Good point. Brutal Schedule #2 would be the next five Seahawk games. 4 games away, all against winning teams. The one home game also against a winning team. At least Tampa got the cardinals away from Arizona. The trick is to game plan against Wentz, Cousins, Goff and the S.F. defense knowing that your own defense is porous. And then there is the Carolina stadium where the Hawks took a rough playoff loss. By the by, the Tampa run defense looks awesome because no one needs to rush against a team with the 29th rated pass defense! They were terrible.

      • art thiel

        The Bucs pass D got even worse when their one good corner, Davis, was hurt and replaced by rookie Jamel Dean, who had 3 plays of NFL experience.

    • art thiel

      I had no idea. Thanks for pointing that out. Might have been worth at least a point, yes?

  • Bruce McDermott

    That pictured “defense” against DK did not draw a flag…and from the looks of things, a challenge would not have done anything, either.

    I thought DK’s best play was his last catch, down on the 5 or so, near the end of the game.
    He was getting hammered before the ball got there, but he stayed with it and hauled it in, losing his binky in the process when the DB knocked it out. That was a man’s catch, right there…

    • art thiel

      True. I said the same thing in this morning’s piece, quoting Carroll. The kid is growing up fast, and by December might be a nightmare for defenses.

    • Kristafarian

      That was a great pic of Metcalf getting held/interferred with.
      It looks like he’s trying pretty dang hard to free his arm.

      Otoh, one hellova defensive play — to get away with it.

  • Alan Harrison

    So I hear great things about Josh Gordon starting to play for us next week. Given today’s game…will he be playing defense?

    • art thiel

      D could use help, but as I point out in my Tuesday piece, the Seahawks have to outscore to succeed. They’re not stopping anyone.

      • Stephen Pitell

        Awww, come on, the defense gives up plenty of yards and a few TD’s but they often get stout in the red zone. All they have to do is gel.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    The Bucs sure are tough! Russell, the O-line and the other prime offensive players made this win happen.
    Not to take away from spots of great play on defense, but the Seahawks’ sorely missing a pass rush is the only thing keeping them from being able to write a check to the championship. Everything else on defense will get several notches better. This will be needed against the upcoming elite teams.

    • art thiel

      Wagner insisted post-game that a lack of discipline on assignments was a big deal. That’s a fixable problem. But I also think an absence of NFL-average talent is at work.

  • jafabian

    The team finally was able to make adjustments at the half and the Bucs were backpedaling the entire second half. In game adjustments have largely eluded them this season. Both teams played near flawless football with each having only one turnover. Enough can’t be said of Metcalf who’s growth is evident with each game. He even took a page out of the Beastquake files when he flung a defender out of his way when he had the ball. The Wilson/Lockett/Metcalf triumvirate is fast becoming the new Three Amigos and Jacob Hollister the new Will Dissly. Looking forward to seeing how this new look offense does against the 49ers defense.

    • art thiel

      All true about the offense, but I haven’t seen enough from Ansah, Reed, Taylor and Blair to suggest big improvement are near. Although Blair has real upside once he learns to play.

      • jafabian

        I’ve noticed Metcalf’s footwork. Something that wasn’t brought up in his draft scouting report. How he’s been able to slip behind the defense for his two TDs game and two point conversion. At his size even Stevie Wonder can see him but not NFL defenses! Blair is going to create a logjam at safety. A luxury all teams wish they had.

  • Sebastian Moraga

    I saw the Seahawk kicker trying to tackle somebody. He had a bad night, but at least, he didn’t imitate Janikowski and dodge.

    • art thiel

      Fair point. I’d forgotten about that. Truly bad.

  • ll9956

    Yikes–another gut-wrencher. What can one say? Russell has an amazing ability to keep steady and make miracles happen. A true team effort for sure.

    • art thiel

      I’m not quite ready to back-pat the D for giving up a season high 34 points.

  • eYeROQ

    Technically it wasn’t Geno Smith that won the coin toss so much as it was the Tampa player losing it. He called tails and it was heads. Geno just happened to be the Seahawk that trotted out there to observe the formalities.

    • art thiel

      True. I deleted the reference after realizing the error, although I’m blaming Wilson and Carroll for perpetrating the canard. :)

  • Effzee

    Russ isn’t going to win MVP. We are in Seattle. They’ll give it to Lamar, McCaffrey or Mahomes.

    • art thiel

      That is a 1980s take, well before social media brought the entirety of the NFL to every corner. Seattle’s sustained success under Carroll has established the franchise on the NFL’s top shelf.

      • Effzee

        I agree with everything you just said. Unfortunately, the MVP is voted on by members of the Associated Press, ie: members of the MSM, ie: one of the only entities as stuck in the 1980’s as the NCAA. All you have to do is look at the College Football Playoff system to see that many things are still stuck in a 1980’s take. I just think that most of these voted-on things are still completely susceptible to lazy-brained East Coast bias rooted in an unwillingness or inability to have much bandwidth left over for anything West of the Mississippi (except for areas of California like LA and the Bay Area). I think the interwebs have definitely allowed more ability to follow the Left Coast, but its still up to the humans to decide they want to pay attention that hard.

  • DJ

    Amazing grace in sportsmanship shown by Arians and his players, seeing positives from the loss and with complements towards Russ and the Seahawks. Seems a bit out of character from what we saw from Arians in AZ, but I’ll take it. Cool stuff!

    • Buggy White

      Except he also said “I’m not used to losing here.” Still a jerk…

      • DJ

        Yeah, I get it, but then he is speaking to fact – that’s how I took it…..Sure glad we won!!

        • art thiel

          I like Arians and his often crusty bluntness. To be 4-2 at the Clink is a helluva feat.

  • Kevin Lynch

    I’ll bet Pete Carroll never thought he would once again be coaching “the cardiac kids”. It’s enough to turn a man’s hair white.

    • art thiel

      I think Carroll really enjoys working through this team’s weaknesses to a positive outcome. It validates his system, and he’s free of anti-authority types like Lynch and Sherman.

      • tor5

        Indeed. It’s interesting that the Hawks will take on any troublesome player (like Josh Gordon), but if you mess with Pete’s upbeat system, they’ll find a way to boot you (with minimal drama). I think John Schneider has Pete’s back in that way. The system—and its synergy with Russell Wilson—is worth more than any other single player’s talent…and I’d argue that’s really proved out this season so far.

  • Husky73

    Russell Wilson is the greatest Seahawk in the history of the franchise (and that is saying a lot), and he is having his greatest season (so far).

    • wabubba67

      I don’t know….Largent, Easley, Kennedy, Jones, and Wilson are all in the same league to me.

    • art thiel

      I think his feats this season, where he’s indisputably carrying the franchise, elevate him above the greats wabubba lists below. And he plays QB, from which all progress generates.

    • jafabian

      I like how Russ was encouraging teammates to lift Hollister on their shoulders after his TD won the game. Corny but appreciated I’m sure. It showed how the cliques and agendas of the Super Bowl team are gone and this is Wilson’s team. His performances shows that. The MVP award is his to lose but knowing Russ he’d rather get another ring.

    • 1coolguy

      I actually agree with you on this – RW is the “Griffey” of the Hawks – GOAT.
      Without him, they would be 2-7, not 7-2.
      The difference between RW and Griffey is RW is such a remarkable leader.

      • Stephen Pitell

        No, the biggest difference between Griffey and RW is that Russell is clutch.

    • Kevin Lynch

      The greatest stat list for determining all time great QB’s is the ‘4th quarter comeback list’. Russ will possibly finish Top 5 all time on that list before he is done. Take a look at the Top 10 currently. Wow! I have 8 of my personal Top 10 that rank in the Top 15 of the 4th quarter comeback list. Only Rodgers and Young are missing. Interesting: Philip Rivers will be a first ballot HOF. He is #6 on the comeback list and #6 in both yardage and TD’s, I believe. Also interesting: Matty Ryan passes 50,000 career yards this month and enters the Top 10. HOF bound.

  • tor5

    They have their weaknesses, but they just know how to win. Pete, Russ, and the other vets have built a heck of a culture in that way.

    • art thiel

      No doubt. The confidence throughout the team has to be worth 2-3 wins this season alone. Wilson is 6-3-1 in OT.

  • wabubba67

    Two thoughts:

    1.) I’m surprised that Arians didn’t go for two points at the end of regulation to win it. Kicking for a tie and overtime while on the road doesn’t seem to match his personality.

    2.) Glad this wasn’t a rule yesterday, but OT should be altered just a bit. If a team scores a TD with the first possession, they should have to either kick the PAT or make a two point conversion to close out the game….otherwise, the other team gets one more possession.

    • art thiel

      I was surprised by Arians’ decision too. The D was unlikely to stop Winston. He claimed afterward it wasn’t a tough call, but he knows better than to give RW more chances with the ball.

      Regarding the OT rules, I think driving the field for six is sufficient. I don’t get the need for PAT.

      • jafabian

        I hate NFL overtimes. The rules make no sense to me. Might as well go to a soccer style shootout.

  • 1coolguy

    The D front 7 seems to be loaded, but doesn’t produce – Is it a coaching issue? is Norton really up to the task? The front 7 hasn’t done jack, and as a result the DB’s are getting scorched, even considering their youth.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    If the Hawks didn’t have Wilson, they would be called the Mariners. Long live #3.