O’Neil: Russell Wilson was finally the closer the Seahawks need vs Packers
Russell Wilson couldn’t wait to get the throw off, and not just because the Packers were showing blitz.
Wilson knew what he was going to do before the ball was even snapped.
So did tight end Ed Dickson.
The result was a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 27-24 victory over the Packers that Seattle absolutely had to have. But really, the play might have been more important than that, but we’ll get to the overarching importance in just a minute. First, let’s set the scene.
Just over 5 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks trailed 24-20. They had the ball at the Green Bay 15, facing yet another third-and-long, and the Packers defense bared its teeth, putting six defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Wilson wasn’t just ready for the pressure. He wanted it.
And while Packers linebacker Blake Martinez dropped into coverage, he was too late and the Packers’ two defensive backs were too far away. Dickson found the hole in the defense, and then Wilson found Dickson with as quick a throw as he made all night.
“He’s got that baseball arm,” Dickson said.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 16, 2018
On Thursday, Wilson was Seattle’s closer and saved what remains of the Seahawks’ playoff hopes with their first fourth-quarter comeback win this season.
That is very important because in each of Seattle’s five losses this season, the Seahawks have had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie or take the lead. Coming close wasn’t going to cut it. Not if the Seahawks want to avoid missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Wilson was at his best when it mattered most. And as incredible as the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was with three different completions of more than 40 yards, Wilson was simply better down the stretch. He completed four of the five passes he attempted on the touchdown drive that gave Seattle the lead, and he rushed for the first down on the possession that cinched the game.
And while Seattle held the ball for the final 4 minutes, 10 seconds to run out the clock, Wilson’s final throw might turn out to be the most important play of this Seattle season – not because of the degree of difficulty, but because of the decision-making.
The Seahawks had spent the week rehearsing what they would do against that look from the Packers.
“I’m telling you,” coach Pete Carroll said, “we practiced that a ton this week, and it was beautiful from a coach’s perspective to see something like that happen in a crucial situation.”
Dickson’s read was to run to the void of the defense, meaning he was to move into the spot Green Bay’s would-be blitzers had vacated. It’s what Wilson expected and what Dickson delivered, and that’s an important step because this is a season that has required Wilson to make the biggest adjustment of his NFL career. The Seahawks changed their offensive coordinator, replacing Darrell Bevell with Brian Schottenheimer. They also lost two of their top receivers from last season in free agency with tight end Jimmy Graham going to Green Bay and Paul Richardson going to Washington.
While you can’t say that Wilson has struggled, he has made some uncharacteristic mistakes. He had one interception returned for a touchdown against him in his first six years in the league, and that was way back in the second month of his rookie season. It has happened twice this season.
But the biggest shortcoming had been in close games. The Seahawks had chances, and Wilson hadn’t been able to cash them in. Until Thursday night, when the Seahawks needed it most and Wilson was more than ready.