LANDOVER, Md. – Russell Wilson set a record and Seattle got its first regular-season victory in Washington since 1998 — and its ninth in a row on Monday night.
Otherwise, it was a night that figures to be remembered mostly for being forgettable. The Seahawks were often their own worst enemy, finishing with a season-high 13 penalties, three of which nullified Seattle touchdowns.
Ultimately, the victory’s greatest meaning is that Seattle improved to 3-1 and moved back into a tie for first place in the NFC West with Arizona. On to the grades:
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Wilson’s 122 rushing yards were not only a career high and Seattle franchise record for a quarterback but also the most by a quarterback in the 45-year history of “Monday Night Football.”
Wilson gained 80 yards on his first four carries to set the tone. That alone gives Wilson a good grade, though the passing game was a little inconsistent. The Seahawks gained 267 yards in the first half but the offense turned stagnant with just 28 yards in the third quarter. Wilson, though, aptly capped his night with a game-clinching pass in the fourth quarter when he spun away from a rush and hit Marshawn Lynch for 30 yards with two minutes left.
Lynch didn’t start for just the third time since 2010. But after sitting out the first series he played like he usually does and looked like his usual self, with 72 yards on 17 carries. Lynch also again showed an underrated aspect of his game — receiving — with a 9-yard touchdown catch. It’s the third straight game he has had a touchdown reception.
Percy Harvin might have had the best game of his Seattle career if any of his three TDs called back for penalties had stood. Two came on consecutive plays in the second quarter — he was to blame for one of them when he was called for illegal motion. But otherwise it was a quiet statistical night for Harvin, as it was for most of Seattle’s wide receivers.
Seattle played without starter Zach Miller, out a couple weeks after having ankle surgery. Luke Willson, who started, dropped a pass early, but came back in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard catch and run that got Seattle out of a second-and-20 hole. Backup Cooper Helfet had a 36-yard reception that led to Seattle’s second TD, his first career reception.
It was one of the sloppiest games imaginable for the offensive line in the first half as there were five penalties on the line — a hold and a false start on Russell Okung, two false starts on Max Unger and a hold on James Carpenter. Unger also misfired on a couple of shotgun snaps. Okung then picked up another holding penalty in the third quarter. Worst of all might have been a personal foul on Carpenter in the fourth quarter that nullified a 41-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Harvin, though the Hawks questioned the call later, arguing he was merely finishing a block. Regardless, the flags have to be cleaned up.
The defensive line came into the game with one main goal — make Washington’s running game a non-factor. Check that off, as Alfred Morris was held to 29 yards on 13 carries and Washington to just 32 yards rushing for the game. On two key plays early in the third quarter, the line led a charge that twice stopped Washington on third-and-one attempts. Kevin Williams, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett all stood out up front. The pass rush, though, was intermittent.
Maybe the best performance of the year for the linebackers. Bobby Wagner was all over the place early on, highlighted by a diving pass deflection on a third-down play in the second quarter. Wagner also had a sack of Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in the third quarter to help kill a drive. Bruce Irvin got his first start of the season and played particularly well against the run. And K.J. Wright batted down a Cousins pass on third down early in the fourth quarter to stop a Washington drive.
Washington had two big pass plays that resulted in scores — a 60-yard Cousins pass to DeSean Jackson for a touchdown in the second quarter and a 57-yarder to Jackson in the third quarter that set up a field goal. Seattle coach Pete Carroll, though, said there was no blame for the second play, which he said was simply a great play by Washington. On the first, Washington appeared to find a hole in Seattle’s zone, similar to what Denver did last week. Other than that, though, Seattle kept Washington’s passing game in check.
The most memorable play of a good all-around day for the special teams came when punter Jon Ryan, also the holder on field goals, took a field-goal snap and ran 5 yards to pick up a first down in the fourth quarter to set up Seattle’s final touchdown. Other highlights: Helfet recovering an onside kick after Washington cut the lead to 17-10; Bryan Walters, making the punt-return job his a little more with each game, had returns of 21 and 20 yards through the first three quarters.