By Mike Salk
Pete Caroll demands that his teams “always compete” and “win forever.” After watching the Seahawks dismantle the visiting Cowboys 27-7 on Sunday, perhaps he’d consider a new expression for this group:
It isn’t easy to do in the NFL.
In the 15 games played so far this week, only three were decided by 20 points or more. Everything in this league is based around parity. And yet, the Seahawks dominated a potential playoff team the old-fashioned way.
They beat up the Cowboys.
They hit tight end Jason Witten so hard he played the game with his head on a swivel, dropping multiple passes. They hit running back DeMarco Murray hard and often. He mustered just 44 yards.
They smacked returner Felix Jones, forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff. They overpowered the punt team, leading to a block and a touchdown.
And then, as punctuation, Golden Tate decleated linebacker Sean Lee with a vicious block.
That’s exactly what the Seahawks did. They dominated every phase of the game. And they did it by writing the perfect recipe.
The running game was awesome. The passing game was, in the context of their plan, awesome. The special teams were awesome. And the defense was, in the second half especially, nearly perfect. They lived up to their physical identity.
All of that serves as the backdrop to the continued progress of Russell Wilson.
The rookie wasn’t perfect in his first win, but he was very close to it. It didn’t start that way as two of his first four throws were sub-par at best. He probably should have been picked off by Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter in the end zone and he badly overthrew tight end Evan Moore.
But after that mistake he was 13-of-16 and a perfect 5-for-5 on the two long touchdown drives. His 75 percent completion rate was the highest ever for a Seahawks rookie. He had a quarterback rating of 112.7.
But beyond the numbers, he was exactly what Carroll has wanted him to be. His biggest plays came off of play action, set up by the effective running game. On his touchdown throw, he capably diagnosed Anthony McCoy as the right receiver to hit as all three tight ends broke out of their bunch formation. Then he delivered a perfect strike.
He was accurate, creative and safe.
Wilson allowed the running game and the defense to do their thing, just adding his own occasional flourish, like a great pianist who allows the orchestra to carry the load but chimes in with the perfect note at the perfect time.
There will be days ahead when the Seahawks need Wilson to do more. There will be days when the defense falters and he will be called upon to throw it twice as often as he did against Dallas. There will be days when the offensive line can’t protect him and he’ll need to scramble for yards. There will be days when the running game doesn’t click and his creativity will be paramount.
But on a day where everything seemed to come together for Carroll’s group, Wilson was almost perfect.