O’Neil: Russell Wilson makes up for Seahawks’ inability to play their brand of football in win over Texans
Enjoy this one, Seattle.
It was absolutely incredible.
More specifically, Russell Wilson was absolutely incredible. And before we spend this week wondering about Seattle’s suddenly vulnerable defense or its cadaverous run game, let’s just pause and acknowledge what we all watched on Sunday.
As good as Deshaun Watson looked for Houston on Sunday, Wilson was even better.
It wasn’t just the fact that Wilson passed for a career-high 452 yards compared to 402 for Watson.
It wasn’t the fact that Wilson threw for 192 yards in the fourth quarter, including two touchdowns to Jimmy Graham in the final 6 minutes, or even that he avoided the kind of back-breaking mistake that Watson made when Earl Thomas picked off a pass and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown in the first half.
It was the fact that Wilson was enough – almost all by himself – to overcome the fact that Seattle was utterly incapable of playing the kind of football it has become known for under Pete Carroll.
“If there’s anybody that ever doubts about Russell, what he can do,” Carroll said. “There is no limit.”
On Sunday, there was nothing he couldn’t make up for.
Not a run game that finished with 33 yards, third-fewest in any game under Carroll. Not a defense that lost the lead twice in the fourth quarter.
Wilson was so good that he made up for his own mistake. He was intercepted with just under 3 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks holding the ball on the Houston 20.
The Seahawks got the ball back at their own 20 with 99 seconds left in the game. Wilson needed only 78 seconds to complete three passes and his second fourth quarter comeback in the final 6 minutes of the game.
“I don’t know how to put it into words,” receiver Doug Baldwin said after the game. “He’s a magician when it matters most. The spinning out of the pocket, pushing up in the pocket, scrambling for yards, finding guys downfield, dropping balls on a dime with his arm.
“You can’t say enough about him.”
This is not how the Seahawks want to play. At least it’s not how Carroll wants them to play. He wants an offense that can run the ball and a defense that keeps everything in front of it, avoiding big plays above all else. On Sunday against Houston, the running game produced a meager 33 yards – 30 of which belonged to the quarterback – and the Seahawks allowed two touchdown plays of more than 50 yards.
While that’s not so sustainable as far as a winning formula goes, it sure was spectacular to watch and may very well turn out to be pretty darn important.
“For the long run it gives us confidence,” Baldwin said, “knowing that we’re capable of doing what we need to do if we have to score that many points.”
The Seahawks showed they can win a shootout, which has continued to be one of the questions about Wilson.
It took Wilson four seasons until he led Seattle to a victory in which the opponent scored more than 25 points. On Sunday, he was the single biggest reason the Seahawks were able to win in spite of giving up 38.