SEATTLE — Doug Baldwin, who was Tarvaris Jackson’s favorite target in 2011, and who again caught a touchdown pass from Jackson in Sunday’s blowout win over Jacksonville, was about to explain how much it means to have Jackson back as Seattle’s backup quarterback.
But the Seahawks receiver had to get something out of the way first.
“First of all,” Baldwin began, “I don’t know what Buffalo was thinking.”
Baldwin, of course, was referring to the fact that the Bills, who were dangerously close to starting undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel in their opener, released Jackson in the offseason when they were hardly settled at the position. The Seahawks were quick to grab their former starting quarterback, and Jackson went on to convincingly beat Brady Quinn in the battle to be Russell Wilson’s backup.
And since the Seahawks so thoroughly dominated Jacksonville on the way to an eventual 45-17 victory, Jackson saw his first regular-season action since 2011. And he certainly made the most of it, completing seven of eight attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown, good for a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Jackson also scored on a five-yard run.
Jackson’s best pass, fittingly, was a strike down the sideline to Baldwin, who made a sliding 35-yard catch for a touchdown.
“You know me and Doug go back to his rookie year, so we got a little chemistry going,” Jackson said. “… Steve Williams was actually on the field as well, and me and Steve had a pretty good preseason, so everybody thought I was going to him, but I was like, ‘Nah, I’m going to Doug.’”
As much fun as Jackson was having on the field, his teammates and coaches were equally thrilled to see him get some playing time and take advantage. Jackson’s departure last year was somewhat inevitable once Wilson won the starting job. Matt Flynn had just signed in the offseason for big money, but Jackson was still a very respected player in Seattle’s locker room. Especially for the way he gutted it out for much of the 2011 season with a partially torn pectoral muscle.
“I can’t express it enough,” Baldwin said when asked what Jackson’s performance meant to the team. “He’s one of the good guys, and for him to get an opportunity and for him to excel … it feels so good.”
Seahawk head coach Pete Carroll was so happy with Jackson’s performance that he felt bad that he forgot to mention it in his opening remarks after the game.
“T-Jack played great, jeez, I just thought he played lights out,” Carroll said. “He did everything just right, handled himself beautifully. A variety of throws and (play) actions and things, he came through and did terrific. Really it’s a big deal —and I’m sorry I didn’t mention it earlier — that he’s able to play like that. … He’s a really big asset for us.”
The Seahawks certainly hope to have a healthy Russell Wilson all season long, but Jackson’s performance Sunday served a reminder that they have a pretty good fallback plan.
“It’s huge for us,” Baldwin said. “If anything ever happened to Russell, God forbid, we’re in good hands. We have no doubt that Tarvaris is a capable leader, a capable quarterback who can get us down the field and make plays when we need them. There’s not doubt in my mind that we’re in very good hands if anything ever happened to Russell.”
Defensive end Red Bryant left the game with back spasms and did not return to action. Following the game, Carroll was unsure what that would mean going forward.
“Red had back spasms out of nowhere that just kind of popped up,” Carroll said. “I don’t know what that means, but he’s pretty uncomfortable right now.”
Receiver Jermaine Kearse sprained his ankle following a second-quarter catch, Carroll said. Kearse was wearing a walking boot in the locker room after the game.
On a more positive note, cornerback Brandon Browner made his 2013 debut and started at right cornerback after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury.
“I was missing being out there last week, so that was fun,” Browner said. “… I felt great, man. I felt great.”
The lopsided score of Sunday’s game meant the first playing time of the season for several rookies, including running back Christine Michael, and tackles Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie. Michael gained 11 yards on his first NFL carry and finished with 37 yards on nine carries. Bowie and Bailey both saw significant playing time in the second half, Bailey at left tackle and Bowie and right tackle.
“To have a chance to get Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey in the game for all that time was really awesome,” Carroll said. “We got everybody to play today, and they got significant playing time, Christine Michael as well to carry the ball a number of times. We’ll benefit from that in the long run.”
Tight ends come up big
Zach Miller had only two catches for five yards, but he also scored on both of them. Rookie Luke Willson, meanwhile, had five catches for 76 yards, and recently signed Kellen Davis added a pair of catches for 31 yards.
“We have a lot of weapons and I thought today it was pretty good for us to show the tight ends,” Willson said. “For next week it’s like, ‘who do you game plan for?’ They were kind of giving it to us and I thought as a group we did a really good job of stepping up.”
The Seahawks gained ground on the entire NFC West with San Francisco, St. Louis and Arizona all losing. Fans went crazy whenever the Colts-49ers score was shown on the stadium’s video boards, and players admitted they were noticing that too.
Asked if he knew what happened in the division Sunday, safety Earl Thomas said, “… Trust me, I was looking. I was checking it, especially after they took me out of the game, I started looking at the scores. I saw San Francisco lose, I was excited about that.”
Carroll added that Sunday was an “exciting day for the NFC West. Big day for us, the other teams struggled and all of that, glad we could take advantage of the opportunity to get this win.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org