Rost: Seahawks showed how they look without Russell Wilson at his best

Oct 20, 2019, 7:35 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2019, 10:26 am
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson finished Sunday with his worst QB rating of the season. (AP)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been at the forefront of the MVP conversation this year, with good reason; it’s hard to overstate just how impressive he has been.

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The veteran QB has finished with a 100-plus passer rating through six consecutive games, excelled under pressure, and was the only remaining starting quarterback in NFL to have not thrown an interception. To maintain that high of a passer rating for an entire season is a feat so impressive that just three players have done so in NFL history – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Carson Palmer – have had that kind of start.

But a stretch like that is rare for a reason. Eventually everyone makes a mistake, and on Sunday, so did Wilson.

Seattle’s offense was driving in the second quarter against the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Facing third-and-6 in Baltimore territory, Wilson spotted an open Jaron Brown near the sideline. A few yards beyond Brown, though, was Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters. Peters recognized that Wilson was targeting Brown, skidded to a stop, reversed course and drove on the ball.

It was Wilson’s first interception of the year, and it was returned for a 67-yard touchdown.

Wilson still made a few big plays, as a franchise quarterback is wont to do. Highlights included a 37-yard pass to DK Metcalf and a 33-yarder to Tyler Lockett, both to convert third downs. Ultimately, though, Wilson completed just under half of his pass attempts (20 of 41, 49%) for 241 yards and a passer rating of 65.2, which is his lowest since December 2018. Eight quarterback hits from a blitzing Ravens defense certainly didn’t help, either.

The Ravens also returned a fourth quarter Metcalf fumble for a second defensive touchdown, and the 14-point difference in Seattle’s 30-16 loss to Baltimore is represented in those two takeaways.

“How many games can you go without making an error like that, I don’t know,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said about Wilson’s interception. “Everybody in the locker room knows it. Russ said something after the game. They’re telling him, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ We understand that there’s a burden to that and all, but we’ve seen Russ do so much. It was just a bad play.”

There are teams that excel despite poor performances from a quarterback. Seattle did it last year with a win over the Vikings that saw Wilson throw a pick and finish with a 37.9 rating. Last year, Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky threw three interceptions in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, but the Bears’ dominant defense pushed the team to a win by holding one of the league’s best offenses to six points. Even Tom Brady had a poor performance earlier this year, but New England’s defense forced four turnovers in a 16-10 win over Buffalo.

Last week brought questions about what this Seahawks team would look like without a stellar performance by Wilson. This week brought the answer: Not great.

On second thought, maybe that is the mark of a team’s most valuable player.

Lamar Jackson: The play maker

Baltimore’s defensive scores were the difference in the game because the Seahawks’ defense managed to hold a Ravens offense that ranks second in the league in scoring to a single touchdown.

“I thought we played really well on defense,” Carroll said. “I thought Lamar Jackson was phenomenal.”

And he was. Baltimore’s quarterback continued to prove why he’s such a dynamic player. The second-year QB leads the Ravens in rushing yards, and he finished with 116 yards on the ground in Seattle just a week after he rushed for 152 yards against Cincinnati. Jackson completed just 9 of 20 pass attempts, but several of those incompletions were dropped passes.

Jackson gained 10 yards or more on four separate scrambles, all of which converted a third down.

“It was on the scramble runs that he was so explosive,” Carroll said. “He’s faster than he looked when you saw him (on film). He was able to just find the space and get out there. … I thought the defense played really good and hard, we’ve just got to find another way to get him down. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner called Jackson a special player.

“A lot of it was really smart by him,” Wagner said. “I think he recognized that we were in man (coverage) and they ran some seams and got us going off our guy and took off. He’s a really special and fast player.”

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