RENTON — Russell Wilson has been so otherworldly his coach is now turning to a master of the Cosmos to explain the veteran quarterback’s play.
Pete Carroll said Monday he’s asked renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain for everyone why Wilson’s downfield lateral to running back Mike Davis in the Seahawks’ 24-10 win over Philadelphia Sunday night was in fact backward and legal — despite giving the appearance of being forward and illegal.
“He hasn’t called me back yet. I’m waiting for a call,” Carroll said, his tongue in his cheek.
Carroll called the play “amazing.” So he’s asked an expert in the extraordinary to explain it for all.
Early in the 2016 season Carroll and the Seahawks invited Dr. Tyson, the host of television’s “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” to a practice. Tyson accepted. He broke down the players in their post-practice huddle in the middle of the field — while telling them about the universe.
Wilson’s improvisational flip to Davis while two Eagles converged on the quarterback added 17 more yards to a 23-yard play in the fourth quarter Sunday night, when the Seahawks were holding onto a 17-10 lead.
In lieu of an immediate response from Tyson, Carroll did his best Monday to explain why the ball appeared to float nearly forward to Davis to set up Seattle’s final, clinching touchdown in its 24-10 win.
The officials on the field ruled Wilson’s pitch backward and thus legal. The Eagles could have challenged that ruling and called for a replay review, but Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson never did.
“Real time, it looked fine. It looked legit,” Pederson said after the game. “We didn’t get all the necessary looks (from Eagles coaches in the press box). They hustled to the line. But at the same time, it looked good, and I trust the guys upstairs making those decisions and didn’t challenge that. I already challenged one in the half and lost that, so I didn’t want to risk another timeout.”
Or maybe Pederson watches Dr. Tyson’s Cosmos, too.
“It looked like the guy was running really fast, pitched the ball backwards like he is supposed to,” Carroll said, pantomiming Wilson’s right-handed flip, “and as the speed of the ball that was traveling with the ball carrier at the time, it was passed along the football. And it all just happened, so…
“I just want to see what Dr. Neil has to say about that. To try to help you guys out. It clearly looked like he pitched the ball backwards. But everybody kept moving.”
Carroll moved his hand forward to mimic the path of Wilson’s pitch in flight.
We could get into the velocity of the ball in flight and the effect of momentum on the direction the ball traveled. But let’s just wait for Dr. Tyson’s expected response, OK?
Carroll vowed to share it with all, if and when he gets it. And the coach clearly was publicly baiting the famous “master of the universe” for a response to his query.
“He did visit here, so we had an afternoon together,” Carroll said. “He really likes football, so I felt like that’s enough of an open ticket to get ahead and give him a call on something like this.
“He’s kind of the national resident on stuff like this. I’m really hoping — I’m counting on him responding before long, so we can put it out there.”
Wilson joked the lateral down the field is “not in the progression” of options he looks for on a given play.
“You grow up playing in the snow, you grow up playing recess and playing around,” he said. “Do you practice those things? Sometimes. There’s little things you visualize, and next thing you know, he’s right there to my right.
“He’s a baller. When you play pickup basketball, you want to get ballers on your team. We have some great ballers. Mike Davis is one of those guys.”
Wilson didn’t sound like he needed Dr. Tyson’s breakdown of the physics of his lateral being backward.
“I just stepped up. I knew I was past the line, I was about to run for the first down, and the next thing I know, here comes Mike Davis,” Wilson said. “Like I said, I had a baller to my right, and I gave him a chance, and he gets a big first down, a huge first down. It really kept the clock running, kept the drive running, and I believe we scored that drive.
“That was huge.”
“I was taught a long time ago, really by Coach (Bud) Grant (when Carroll was a 33-year-old assistant with Grant’s Minnesota Vikings in 1985), that if you have really good players and really good athletes and they feel comfortable, laterals are one of the best plays in the game. He said that years ago,” Carroll said. “There’s some guys you tell, ‘You can’t do that.’ … Mike, you can see, was looking for the ball. So sometimes those special things happen, with a terrific player that can pull it off.
“But it’s not something that’s going to happen on a regular basis.”
Running back Chris Carson, on injured reserve since a severe ankle injury Oct. 1, is “beating the time frames” and “looks good” in his recovery. But the rookie will not return to practice this week. “Not yet,” Carroll said. “This is a big week for him to prove that maybe he has a chance in the next couple of weeks.” … DeShawn Shead, the starting right cornerback last season who underwent reconstructive knee surgery in January, remains “really close” to practicing, Carroll said, although Carroll has been saying that for weeks. … Carroll said DT Nazair Jones (ankle) is unlikely to play Sunday at Jacksonville. DE Dion Jordan (neck) has a better chance than Jones to play against the AFC South-leading Jaguars, but is iffy. Jordan missed the past two games.