Rost: Seahawks can move on from past to present after beating Wilson
Even Pete Carroll thought they’d go for it.
Seattle’s longtime head coach, who has steered toward more conservative playcalling, told reporters postgame Monday night his Seahawks defense was prepared for Russell Wilson and the Broncos to go for it on fourth and 5.
And why wouldn’t they? Denver had been able to convert through most of the night; they were 53% on third down but just couldn’t get the job done in the red zone. Maybe with 20 seconds left, Wilson could pull out a miracle – the same kind of magic Seahawks fans had witnessed for 10 years. He had the weapons: a pair of top-tier receivers in Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, plus the speedy Javonte Williams in the backfield, who could also make plays with his hands. Seattle was already short starting safety Jamal Adams and had just seen linebacker Cody Barton and edge rusher Darrell Taylor head toward the sidelines. He could go for it now.
But he didn’t. Instead, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett took the ball out of the hands of a quarterback for whom Denver surrendered two first-round picks and more, leaving it up to kicker Brandon McManus to nail what would’ve been the second-longest field goal in NFL history at 64 yards.
Even without knowing the outcome, you’d probably guess he’d miss (and you would be right). The Broncos ended any chance of a come-from-behind victory, and the Seahawks, a 6 1/2-point underdog at home, were the victors in a 17-16 Week 1 battle.
“I was surprised that they took Russ out there at the end,” Carroll said. “We weren’t thinking field goal there, we were thinking fourth down and they were still going. So, it gave us a chance to win the game on that play and we were fortunate there.”
— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2022
For his part, Wilson stood by his new head coach.
“I believe in Coach Hackett,” Wilson told reporters postgame. “I believe in what we’re doing. Believe in everything, and any time you can try to find a way to make a play on fourth and 5, that’s great, too. Also, I don’t think it was the wrong decision. I think he can make it. Obviously in hindsight he didn’t make it, but if we were in that situation again I wouldn’t doubt whatever he decided.”
Indeed, Carroll walked away with his win. But more importantly the Seahawks can, for now, walk away from Wilson.
Trading a franchise quarterback will rightfully draw all kinds of criticism. It’s the single most important position on the field and the best teams have, through no coincidence, the best passers. Wilson was one of those for Seattle for a decade. And it’s why all eyes around the NFL were eagerly fixed to this Monday night showdown: Would Wilson waltz in, booing crowd and all, and have his way with Seattle’s defense?
Turns out the answer was no. Wilson himself had a decent night: 29 of 42 for 340 yards and a touchdown. Denver put up 433 yards of offense total, a number Seattle will need to trim as the season progresses.
But now, that’s exactly what Seattle can do: progress. The shadow of Wilson will continue to linger – as former franchise quarterbacks will do – but the Seahawks can finally look past making a statement against Wilson in Week 1. Instead, the focus can shift from the past to the present.
Maybe this team ends up regretting its decision to part ways with Wilson in the end. But first, they must figure out who they are without him. And that journey begins in earnest now.