By Brady Henderson
Despite throwing two interceptions, Russell Wilson played perhaps the best game of his young career in Seattle’s win over Carolina on Sunday.
Here’s a closer look at Wilson’s performance with the help of coach Pete Carroll, who described the play of his rookie quarterback as “very, very good” when he joined “Brock and Salk” on Monday:
Third-down improvement. For all the talk heading into Sunday’s game about Seattle needing to open up its playbook, improvement on third down – specifically from Wilson – was perhaps the bigger need. Wilson was much better against Carolina, completing 9 of 10 passes for 74 yards on third down. His touchdown pass, a 13-yard strike to Golden Tate, came on third-and-8. Five of his nine third-down completions produced first downs.
As an offense, the Seahawks converted seven of 14 third-down opportunities after converting just twice in nine attempts last week against St. Louis.
Russell Wilson threw two interceptions but was much better on third down.
“I think he’s just growing with it. And I think that Carolina helped us a little bit, too. Let’s give them a little credit; they’re not a great third-down team. But we did take advantage of that. I think it’s just reps,” Carroll said.
Carroll noted that better pass protection also helped Seattle on third down.
Season-high passing yardage. Wilson completed 19 of 25 passes for 221 yards, his highest total of the season. It could have been higher had it not been for a holding penalty that wiped out a 56-yard completion to Tate. Wilson reached that total with the same number of attempts he had averaged in four previous games. The difference this week was that some of those completions were on longer throws, including two to tight end Zach Miller up the seam.
Wilson’s 19 completions were also a season-high. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson is the only starting quarterback in the NFL who hasn’t completed 20 passes in a game this season.
Two interceptions. Wilson’s two interceptions were the glaring blemishes on the stat sheet. Carroll thought the second pick was thrown slightly off target to running back Marshawn Lynch but still should have been caught. The first interception, an underthrown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy that the Panthers returned for their only touchdown, was all on Wilson.
“He threw one bad ball; he back-hipped it on the throw to Anthony and it winds up being a touchdown. But he didn’t throw another ball like that all day,” Carroll said, later adding that he had no thoughts of pulling Wilson after his second pick.
Flight risk. Carroll agreed with co-host Brock Huard that trusting the protection and remaining patient in the pocket is another area in which Wilson needs to improve. Carroll said there are about three or four plays each game where Wilson moves out of the pocket to escape pressure that isn’t there.
“But there’s a lot of other guys that will stand in there and not move when they get hammered, too,” Carroll said, describing one of the main criticisms of last year’s starter, Tarvaris Jackson. “There’s both sides to this. He’s done a marvelous job of escaping and giving us second chances. And he’s growing and he’s going to get better.”