By John Boyle Herald Columnist
SEATTLE — At one point during Sunday’s game, Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson looked at Russell Wilson and feared there may be something wrong with the rookie quarterback.
It wasn’t anything Wilson was doing wrong, quite the opposite in fact. As Robinson looked at Wilson in the huddle in what would end up a 27-7 Seahawks victory over the Dallas Cowboys, he couldn’t believe how calm Wilson was in his second NFL start.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, you all right? Did you get hit in the head or something?’” Robinson said.
Wilson’s response, according to Robinson, was “No, I’m cool, I’m cool.”
Wilson wasn’t just cool, but according to Robinson, “He’s unusually cool, unusually cool.”
Not just unusually cool, but unusually efficient as well. Actually, the Seahawks hope that there was nothing unusual about Wilson’s performance, which saw him complete 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, which was good for a passer rating of 112.7. And the good news for Seattle is that a game like the one Wilson had Sunday is eminently repeatable.
That’s not to take away from what Wilson did Sunday. Playing in his second career game, facing a talented defense that features one of the league’s best pass rushers, Wilson was not just does-this-guy-have-a-head-injury cool, he also made some pretty impressive plays. Wilson helped engineer consecutive touchdown drives of 90 and 88 yards. He kept plays alive with his legs. He hit tight end Anthony McCoy with a strike for a 22-yard touchdown. He found wide receiver Golden Tate with a third-down pass to keep another touchdown drive going. And he somehow completed another pass to McCoy with Cowboys’ defensive end DeMarcus Ware hanging off of him.
“I don’t know what Russell did to get the ball off,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “I still don’t know how he threw it to him.”
Wilson also made smart decisions that didn’t lead to completions. When he recognized Dallas bringing pressure from the left, he changed a run call so Lynch would run right instead of left; the play resulted in a 36-yard gain, the longest play of the game for either team.
“Russell did a great job at quarterback today, putting us in all the right play,” Robinson said. “People don’t realize that he’s making calls at the line, he’s seeing the defense and putting us in the right plays. He did a great job today.”
Of course it wasn’t a perfect afternoon for Wilson, far from it. He should have thrown an interception on Seattle’s first possession when he failed to recognize linebacker Bruce Carter drop into coverage. Wilson had Tate open on a deep ball in the first quarter, but underthrew him. And he also somehow managed to overthrow — quite badly, in fact —6-foot-6 tight end Evan Moore.
But here’s the thing, Wilson doesn’t need to be perfect for the Seahawks to win. He doesn’t need to pass for 300 yards or attempt 40 passes. The Seahawks didn’t win Sunday because Wilson dominated; they won because he was efficient and took care of the football, allowing the running game, defense and special teams to all make big contributions to a victory.
The Wilson we saw Sunday, aside from a few errant throws in the first half, is plenty good for this team to win a lot of games. Carroll isn’t looking for a quarterback to take over the game, he’s looking for one to take care of it.
“Russell was very efficient, 15-for-20, that’s a really good solid day,” Carroll said. “He ran the club all day, made a couple of great plays for us, and gave us the formula that we’d like to see.”
And as much as Wilson was spectacular on Sunday, he also wasn’t nearly as bad as some people thought last week. No, the numbers weren’t impressive against Arizona, but Wilson was also under constant duress thanks to the blitz-happy Cardinals defense. And he was one completion away from leading his team to a comeback victory in the game’s final seconds. So for the cool-under-pressure quarterback, last week and this week didn’t feel a whole lot different, even if the end result was much better for the Seahawks
“One of the players asked me that, ‘Did you feel any different?’” Wilson said. “I didn’t really feel any different. The one thing that I’ve always tried to do is just relax and just breathe and just trust in what I’ve learned throughout the entire week. … So I didn’t feel any different.”
But even if he didn’t feel different, Wilson and the offense took a step forward Sunday. Wilson wasn’t spectacular, and that’s just fine. He was exactly what the Seahawks needed him to be to win Sunday, and to win plenty more games down the road.
“He did a great job, man,” Robinson said. “That kid’s going to be great.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.