By Brady Henderson
It was nearly 15 minutes into his conversation with “Brock and Salk” on Monday before Pete Carroll mentioned Russell Wilson. The manner in which the Seahawks lost to Miami the day before and the potential suspensions to their top two cornerbacks overshadowed what their quarterback had done.
But even with those other stories, the fact that Wilson wasn’t a leading topic is a testament to the progress he’s made during his rookie season and how well he’s played over the last four games specifically. Performances like the one Wilson turned in against the Dolphins, as stellar as it was, are becoming less the exception and more the expectation.
Still, this one deserves a closer look.
Wilson’s raw numbers alone were impressive enough. He completed 21 of 27 attempts for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The 21 completions (second), 224 yards (third) and 77.8 percent completion rate (first) were among his best efforts of the season.
At one point he completed 16 consecutive passes, setting an NFL rookie record while falling one shy of Warren Moon’s franchise record. The incompletion that broke that streak was a well-placed, over-the-shoulder throw that Doug Baldwin could have caught.
Wilson made plays with his legs, too. He finished with a season-high 38 yards on five carries, including one that went for 20 yards. One one play, he spun to avoid pressure then rolled to his left and delivered an accurate, across-the-body throw to Sidney Rice for a 26-yard gain. On his first touchdown pass, he avoided two pass-rushers before escaping the pocket and finding Anthony McCoy in the corner of the end zone.
He did it all despite a running game that uncharacteristically struggled.
“He did a great job yesterday to give us a chance to be in that football game, not just the consecutive balls that he completed but just the way he created and made things available to us,” Carroll said.
That should ease some of the doubts about Wilson’s effectiveness on the road, where he had previously thrown all eight of his interceptions and only four of his 15 touchdown passes. Those numbers belied what had been an upward trend for Wilson away from home.
In Seattle’s last road game, a Week 8 loss to Detroit, he set a season high with 25 completions while throwing for 236 yards, his second-highest total of the season. The week before, in a loss to San Francisco, five dropped passes drastically altered the complexion of what was statistically his worst game of the season.
“There was question about his numbers on the road. I was hoping in the back of my mind that he would [eliminate those questions], which he did yesterday. He even did more than that. I thought he played a great football game,” Carroll said.
Wilson’s totals over the last four games look like this: 74 of 105 (70.5 percent) for 821 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception. His QB rating has been north of 125 in three of those four games. It was 96.8 in the loss to Detroit.
Wilson’s struggles early in the season and the conservative approach the Seahawks were taking with him had some questioning whether Carroll’s decision to go with a rookie quarterback would mean wasting what was then considered a dominant defense. That notion is long gone.
“We’re not restricting him in any way – we haven’t been for the last month or so. We’ve really just let this thing come together,” Carroll said. “He played great at home the last couple weeks, he played terrific on the road yesterday and I think he can really do his part.
“We need to get our football team right around him and around all of us. That’s not the issue right now – I’m excited to be able to say that.”
Related audio: Wilson talks about his performance against Miami.