SEATTLE — Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s streak of 149 consecutive regular-season starts to begin his NFL career — the sixth-longest such streak in league history — is at an end.
According to an NFL Network report, Wilson underwent surgery Friday to repair a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right hand and is expected to be out “roughly six weeks.”
The report said the surgery by Dr. Steven Shin stabilized his finger, injured during the third quarter of Thursday night’s 26-17 home loss to the Rams, with screws. The NFL Network reported the surgery was “more complicated than expected,” necessitating the need for screws to repair the injury. Shin is based at Cedars-Sinai Orthopedics in Los Angeles.
And that means Geno Smith will become the first Seahawks quarterback other than Wilson to start a game since Jan. 1, 2012, when Tarvaris Jackson started at Arizona. The Seahawks’ next game is Oct. 17 at Pittsburgh.
Wilson flew to Los Angeles on Friday morning to have the hand examined. According to the NFL Network, X-rays on Wilson’s finger came back negative, but following an MRI Wilson had surgery.
Coach Pete Carroll said Friday morning during his regular day-after-game news conference that he did not have anything definitive on Wilson’s injury.
But he also expressed confidence in Smith to lead the Seahawks while Wilson is out, stating “now he’s going to get a chance, and we are thrilled for him.”
If Wilson is out six weeks that could mean missing just five games. After the contest against the Steelers, Seattle returns home to host New Orleans on Oct. 25 and Jacksonville on Oct. 31 before its bye week. The Seahawks then play at Green Bay on Nov. 14. Seattle returns home to host Arizona on Nov. 21, which would be roughly six weeks from Wilson’s surgery. Seattle then plays at Washington on Nov. 29, which would be Wilson’s 33rd birthday.
Carroll said during his Friday morning meeting with the media that Wilson had X-rays on the finger after Thursday’s game but added, “they are going to all of that again today” to make a proper determination.
Wilson was injured when his hand hit the arm of Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald while thrown a pass to Tyler Lockett with 7:17 to play in the third quarter.
Wilson played one more play in that series and then one more series — which lasted three plays and included a complete one-yard pass to tight end Colby Parkinson — before coming out of the game.
Carroll noted that the middle finger is critical for a quarterback and added that after Wilson played the four more snaps, as well as throwing a number of passes on the sideline, he realized he could not grip and throw the ball the way that was required to continue.
“Nobody should question his toughness,” Carroll said. “Nobody should question his resolve. He’d have gone in if he could have thrown the football and held on to it — he would have done it, and anybody that says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You can deal with all kinds of stuff in your hands and you can still throw the football, and he tried last night and did not have the power and the control of the ball.
“So I think if he could have he would have. Let’s be really clear about that. There’s no doubt. There’s nobody out there that can challenge his will and his desire and his toughness about carrying on last night.”
The news comes at a particularly pivotal time in Seattle’s season. Thursday’s loss, the second in two home games for the Seahawks this year, dropped them to 2-3 and assured them of being two games behind the leaders in the NFC West by the end of the weekend and possibly three if 4-0 Arizona wins at home against the 49ers, who will have to start rookie Trey Lance at quarterback.
The Rams’ loss exposed Seattle’s defensive weaknesses — Los Angeles gained 301 yards and scored 23 points in the second half. And now Seattle will have to try to stay in the playoff hunt for the next six weeks or so without Wilson.
Wilson’s streak of consecutive starts was the longest active in the NFL for a QB — Tom Brady is next at 80.
But aside from not having missed a start in his Seattle career, Wilson also has rarely missed a play — the previous time he’d missed a snap because of injury was in a 2017 game at Arizona, when he had to come out for one snap to be examined for a concussion.
Wilson played through a knee injury and ankle injury in 2016 to start every game and played every snap in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 he played every snap other than the final 18 of a blowout win over the Jets.
Wilson was replaced Thursday night by Smith, a nine-year veteran and former starter with the New York Jets.
Seattle also has Jake Luton on the practice squad and could sign him to the 53-man roster as depth.