By Brady Henderson
Pete Carroll knew there would be a time this season when he would need to loosen the reins on Russell Wilson and allow his rookie quarterback to attack an opposing defense down the field.
Sunday, against Tom Brady and the Patriots’ No. 1 offense, was that time.
“We knew that in this game, because of their scoring power, we were going to have to go for it and so now was the time,” Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday. “We’ve waited. … But we just had to let it go to have a chance to win the football game, and when we needed it most it showed up.”
Wilson threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns in Seattle’s 24-23 win. But it wasn’t a drastic increase in the number of attempts that led to those career-best totals. Wilson’s 27 attempts were just two more than he had averaged in five previous games. The difference Sunday was the latitude Wilson was given to attempt more down-field throws.
Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 293 yards in Seattle’s win over New England. His 27 attempts were only two more than he had averaged in the Seahawks’ five previous games. (AP)
From ESPN Stats & Information:
• Wilson completed five passes deeper than 20 yards down-field on Sunday, equaling his total from the previous five games. He had been 5 of 10 with three touchdowns and an interception on such throws before going 5 of 9 with two touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday.
• Those attempts of more than 20 yards down-field represented 33.3 percent of his total attempts on Sunday, compared to 8 percent previously.
• Wilson’s average attempt traveled 15.2 yards on Sunday, more than twice as deep as his previous average of 7.5.
“We gave him plenty of chances to bomb ’em and he did it,” Carroll said. “He’s thrown the ball deep really, really well. We’ve all see him do that in practice and he’s done it in games as well. He got the chances, he got the protection, guys ran some beautiful routes for him and then made the plays at the other end.”
Two of Wilson’s three touchdown passes came on throws of at least 20 yards: a 24-yarder to Doug Baldwin in the first quarter and the 46-yard game-winner to Sidney Rice. He also had a 51-yard completion to Golden Tate.
Baldwin’s touchdown and his 50-yard reception four plays earlier came on plays in which Wilson was flushed out of the pocket. Earlier in the season, Wilson might have kept running, figuring he would use his mobility to pick up a few yards. But last week Carroll stressed the importance of trying to make a play down the field while on the move.
“We were trying to convince everybody that we have a great opportunity here if we’ll take advantage of it that we’ve been missing out on,” Carroll said. “Because he’s been running everybody’s been turning and blocking for him. Remember how Golden knocks the guy out, gets fined and everything? It’s a great play and everybody’s all excited about it, but there’s bigger plays to be had when [Wilson] throws it on the move rather than the runs.”
“If we can get that part going, that’s the most difficult play in football to deal with because you don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t know when and where it’s coming,” Carroll added.
Marshawn Lynch and the running game made the Seahawks’ offense move in their previous four wins. But the Patriots seemed determined to slow Lynch — they did, holding him to a season-low 41 yards on 15 carries — which created some of those opportunities for deeper throws.
As a team, the Seahawks had averaged more than 140 rushing yards per game before totaling a season-low 85 on Sunday.
“It’s such a great accent when you can stretch the field that much [combined] with the running game that we have,” Carroll said. “It can make us a very solid offense here in the next few weeks.”