SEATTLE — You might say the early minutes of Sunday’s game were a stretch of good news/bad news for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson passed to wide receiver Doug Baldwin for 18 yards on Seattle’s second play from scrimmage, then followed with a 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate on the next play. The Seahawks had an early 7-0 lead, on their way to an eventual 28-7 victory over the New York Jets at CenturyLink Field.
But Wilson’s day would hardly be a walk in the park.
Late in the first quarter, as he tried jitterbugging in the pocket to avoid the New York pass rush, the ball was poked free by defensive end Mike DeVito. Jets teammate Muhammad Wilkerson scooped up the loose ball and dashed 21 yards for a tying touchdown.
Minutes later, Wilson lost the football again as he scrambled in the backfield. This time the ball came out at the Seahawks 3-yard line, though Seattle’s Robert Turbin fortunately recovered at the 7.
Call them teachable moments for Seattle’s rookie quarterback.
“He has to get down and protect the football first,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “We gave up the ball and that’s kind of unfortunate. … I think (Wilson) was over-trying a little bit, trying to make too much out of it. When he’s in a bad situation, (he has to) just get down.
“If we have to punt, we’ll punt it. Hopefully we’ll learn from that.”
Carroll spent time talking to Wilson on the sideline about protecting the ball, “and from that point on he … did OK,” Carroll said.
Wilson finished the day with 12 completions in 19 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns. His two TD passes — 38 yards to Tate and 31 yards to wide receiver Sidney Rice — were both downfield tosses that dropped perfectly over defenders to the receivers’ hands.
With a first-year quarterback, Carroll said, “there’s going to be a little bit of give and take. It wasn’t because he wasn’t battling. … (And) he did make some fantastic plays.”
Wilson spent most of his postgame remarks discussing his team and his teammates, but he sheepishly admitted his first fumble occurred when “I got hit funny. I was trying to get ready to go down and the guy just hit the ball out. It was a good play by them.”
Ultimately, he added, it was “a huge win for us.”
Many of his fellow Seahawks have become big Russell Wilson fans through the season’s first 10 games. They seem to understand that he will commit typical rookie miscues, but that he is also a remarkable talent with the ability to make big plays, as he has already demonstrated in his first season.
Even with his two early fumbles against the Jets, Wilson “stuck with it and finished the game right,” said Seattle guard John Moffitt. “Everyone is going to have bumps in the road. Everybody is going to have (bad) games. But if you look at the upside of it, he kept his composure the whole game.”
“He just never gets rattled, even after bad things happen,” said fullback Michael Robinson. “The kid just never gets rattled.”
“He did a great job,” said Tate. “He used his feet, he used his arms and he made some good calls. So I’m very impressed with how he played.”
With a bye next Sunday, the Seahawks are giving their players a week off from practice. Wilson is looking forward to getting away and using the time “to relax the mind and relax the body more than anything, and then being ready to go the week after.”
Carroll may have raised eyebrows when he named Wilson his starter before the season, but from the beginning Seattle’s coach was impressed with the rookie’s maturity, talent and poise.
Through 10 games, Carroll’s opinion remains unchanged.
“(Wilson) has handled everything,” Carroll said. “He has not wavered one time, one step. There’s no wobble. This guy just keeps moving forward with whatever we ask him to do. I think he is having a remarkable season and hopefully he can finish it really well.”