DANNY ONEIL

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson shows again what can happen when he buys himself time

Aug 25, 2016, 11:46 PM | Updated: Aug 26, 2016, 11:51 am
A week after taking four sacks, Russell Wilson's elite elusiveness was on display. (AP)...
A week after taking four sacks, Russell Wilson's elite elusiveness was on display. (AP)
(AP)

Russell Wilson held onto the ball too long again.

Actually, he did it twice, only this time so it didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing. In fact, those plays were the best thing that happened for Seattle’s offense in its 27-17 victory over Dallas.

Two plays. That’s all it took for Wilson to remind you of his ability to take an imminent loss and turn it into the kind of play that leaves defenders grasping at air while their coordinator is grasping at straws.

First came a second-quarter play in which Wilson looked like he was going to tuck the ball and run only to pull up short of the line of scrimmage and lob the wobbling ball over a cornerback’s head for a 27-yard gain to Tyler Lockett. One play later, the Seahawks were in the end zone.

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Then in the third quarter, Wilson basically did brodies in the pocket for a good 3 seconds before spinning out the back, taking off toward the sideline and throwing an absolute dart of a pass on a dead run for a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lockett.

Two plays, and Wilson reminded you just what he can do when he buys time for himself. Two plays that show it’s not always a bad thing when Wilson holds onto the ball longer than a quarterback usually should.

“He was on-rhythm until he didn’t have the chance to be,” coach Pete Carroll said, “and then he made some marvelous plays.”

No kidding.

This is what makes Wilson so very unique, and a reason that it’s dangerous to jump to hard and fast conclusions about how he should play. In fact, it was just seven days earlier that Wilson’s reluctance to get rid of the ball was pinpointed as a problem. That was cited as the reason behind two of the four sacks Seattle’s quarterback suffered in the first half of a preseason loss to Minnesota.

That conclusion wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t the whole story, either, because Wilson’s ability to ad-lib and scramble is a trump card that can make all the difference in a game. It is sandlot football, something no defense can plan for and something the Seahawks want to utilize.

“We prepare to do that,” Carroll said. “We’re hoping that those opportunities are going to arise, and our guys work really hard. We’re really trying to be the best scrambling team there is.”

This is the balance that Wilson must navigate on his own. He’s the one with the ball in his hands, his eyes downfield and the pressure closing in. He’s the one who has to be able to gauge his ability to escape a situation with the risk that he won’t be able to.

A year ago, Wilson showed he was able to not just throw from the pocket, but to do so with historic efficiency. In Thursday’s preseason game against Dallas, Wilson served a reminder that no quarterback in the league is better at making something out of nothing.

“Those kinds of plays are in Russell,” Carroll said.

That’s worth remembering the next time someone (like me) complains that Wilson is holding onto the ball too long.

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