By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
CHARLOTTE — Doug Baldwin’s turn as a featured player in Seattle’s offense happened Sunday against Carolina.
With so many playmakers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has plenty of choices at his disposal to spread it around in the passing game.
However, Baldwin, a third-year pro out of Stanford, was a frequent target for Wilson against the Panthers. Baldwin finished with a team-high seven catches for 91 yards. Five of Baldwin’s receptions went for first downs.
“He’s had great effort,” Wilson said. “And I think the biggest thing that Doug and I have worked on, and the rest of the receivers too, is just having that camaraderie, on and off the field, where you are communicating with one another and just trying to get to know one another.”
One particular play by Baldwin that stood out was an acrobatic catch along the sideline in the third quarter, where he dragged his feet just inside the sideline for a first down.
On third and eight from Carolina’s 48-yard line, Wilson scrambling, escaped the pocket to his left to get away from the pass rush. The Seattle quarterback looked like he was throwing the ball away, but spotted Baldwin down the left sideline.
“I think he was trying to get rid of it,” Baldwin said about the play. “But just the way it happened, we were scrambling, and our scramble rules are we break off the routes and try and help Russell out. I think he was trying to throw it away, but the ball was just enough in bounds for me to try and make a play.”
Wilson fired the ball toward the sideline as two Carolina defenders sandwiched him, and Baldwin caught the ball at the Panther’s 35-yard line.
“I was trying to give him a chance,” Wilson said about the play. “I was figuring nobody would probably get to it to be honest with you, but I knew Doug was coming back, and I knew I was about to get blown up. So I tried to throw it where nobody could get it, and somehow he reached to it and made a great play.”
The reception was challenged by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, but upheld. The Seahawks settled for a Steven Hauschka 40-yard field goal on the drive.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said Baldwin’s standout play was the result of all of his hard work with Wilson in the offseason.
“We didn’t have that last year at this time — that chemistry,” Carroll said. “I think you saw it with him (Wilson) and Doug. And you saw him go to Golden a number of times, and using Golden properly when he was on the move and all. Those are all things that we’re growing with, and hopefully we’ll take more advantage of that.”