This is one of those games in which it’s OK to say Wilson both struggled and was great, that he played a hand in the loss as much as he played a hand in the rally.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The truth is, it’s hard to evaluate how Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played in a 31-24 playoff defeat against the Panthers.
The good: He passed for 366 yards, the most he’s thrown for since the frantic comeback in Atlanta his rookie season (when he finished with 385 yards). That’s pretty good. He led the Seahawks to 24 consecutive points in the second half Sunday and did so while almost exclusively throwing the ball. That’s pretty good. He passed for three touchdowns and completed 65 percent of his attempts, also pretty good.
The bad: He threw two interceptions, including a reckless pass across the middle that led to an interception returned for a touchdown. He missed a couple of open deep passes that he normally completes. He took a sack after he had time to get rid of the ball, and that sack not only stalled Seattle’s drive and momentum but also forced the Seahawks to punt.
This is one of those games in which it’s OK to say Wilson both struggled and was great, that he played a hand in the defeat as much as he played a hand in the rally.
“It’s my fault,” Wilson said. “We got behind. I take the blame for that. I put us behind the 8-ball a little bit.”
On the Seahawks’ first drive, defensive tackle Kawann Short got pressure up the middle. Wilson rolled right and threw back across the middle, looking for running back Marshawn Lynch. Instead, he found Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. It was the type of mistake Wilson rarely makes, and it was just the second “pick-six” of his career.
“It’s my fault, and he made a good play,” Wilson said. “That’s just on me.”
Wilson threw another interception at the start of the second quarter, although he was hit as he threw and the ball fluttered.
In the second half, he looked like the Wilson who has made the comeback a part of his aura. The Seahawks knew they couldn’t just run the ball anymore, so they broke out their no-huddle offense and called on Wilson to throw 48 times, the most of his career.
“I thought he was phenomenal,” coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson in the second half. “I don’t know how much more you can expect of him. He ran, he threw it, he managed the game, he was in it the whole time, he knew every situation that we were going through. He was right on point with it.”
He was crisp but not perfect.
Just a few plays after the Seahawks had kept a drive alive with a fake punt late in the third quarter, the Seahawks had a second-and-10 trailing 31-14. Wilson dropped to pass, and the line gave him time. But Wilson held onto the ball and took a sack. The Seahawks lost 14 yards and had to punt two plays later.
He completed 21 of 31 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and scrambled twice for 23 yards. It looked like so many other comebacks, only the mistakes of the first half were just too much.
“The second half, we had to go for it,” Wilson said. “We had to come out swinging. That was our mentality, and we did a great job of that. If we had one more drive, we would have won it, we felt like.”
|Tale of two halves|
|Russell Wilson’s first- and second-half stats couldn’t have been more different.|