GREEN BAY, Wis. — Maybe the most talked-about and analyzed middle right finger in Seattle sports history, Russell Wilson insisted later, is just fine.
“I felt confident in my hand,” Wilson said following Sunday’s 17-0 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. “It was just a bad game.”
Statistically, anyway, among the worst of Wilson’s career as he threw two second-half interceptions that helped turn the game and basically throw away what was one of the better defensive performances in the past two years, if not the best, given the circumstances and the opponent.
Wilson, in his first game since suffering a dislocation and ruptured tendon in his finger, was 20-for-40 for 161 yards and no touchdowns, a passer rating of 39.7, the fourth lowest of his career.
But if the temptation was to blame the finger and wonder whether Wilson came back too soon — many speculated he’d be out six-to-eight weeks and he instead returned after four — Wilson pointed a finger only at himself.
“I’ve got to play better,” Wilson said. “And that was on me. There were those two plays (the interceptions). That was really the game.”
Both interceptions came in the end zone, the first on a third-and-10 at the Green Bay 12 when the score was still 3-0 in the third quarter. Wilson scrambled to his left and tried to hit DK Metcalf but instead found former Husky Kevin King.
“His back was turned,” Wilson said of King. “I was trying to get it to him (Metcalf). Done it before for touchdowns. The guy did a good job turning around and catching it.”
The second came on a first-down heave to Tyler Lockett from the Green Bay 43 in the fourth quarter with the score 10-0.
“Just trying to take a shot,” Wilson said.
But like everything the Seahawks offense tried Sunday, it didn’t work as the Seahawks suffered their first shutout since a 24-0 loss at Pittsburgh in the second game of the 2011 season.
But if the finger was fine — and Wilson and coach Pete Carroll insisted it was — the Seahawks are not.
The loss dropped Seattle to 3-6, the worst record after nine games since Wilson became the Seahawks quarterback in 2012. And a win by Carolina means the Seahawks are 1.5 games back of the seventh playoff spot in the NFC, standing at 14th out of 16 teams, behind even the New York Giants, who have a better record in conference games.
“It’s a big opportunity that we missed out on,” Carroll said, referring to the defensive effort that kept the Seahawks in it until the final moments despite the offensive ineptitude.
“I’m really proud of how hard we played,” Carroll said.
But the Seahawks didn’t always play smart.
A penalty on Carlos Dunlap for throwing the shoe of a Packers player helped keep alive Green Bay’s first touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, turning what would have been third-and-three at the Seattle 42 into first and-10 at the 27 with the Packers scoring seven plays later to take a 10-0 lead with 10:37 remaining.
“A foolish mistake,” said Dunlap, who also apologized to the team and said “it won’t happen again.’’
Normally, the Seahawks would take it any time just giving up 17 points to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau.
You can’t win scoring zero, however.
The Seahawks hoped the offense would roar back to life with Wilson’s return.
But Wilson never found a rhythm, whether it be the finger or just rust from the time off or simply, as he said, a bad game.
He overthrew open receivers several times, and early on seemed to mostly throw short passes, at times also seeming a little tentative.
Carroll echoed Wilson in saying the finger was not an issue.
“He didn’t feel like it was at all,” Carroll said. “There’s a couple high throws that got out. Pretty cold night and all that. I don’t know. Maybe that (his finger) has something to do with it as you look at it. But I’m not thinking that, and Russ isn’t either.”
Still, the Seahawks did make one accommodation to Wilson’s injury, calling every play out of a shotgun or pistol formation so he didn’t have to take snaps from under center.
“We just didn’t want to keep pounding away at it,’’ Carroll said. “Didn’t think that was the right thing to do.’’
Both Carroll and Wilson —- who did not wear a glove on his hand but did have some tape covering the finger —- insisted that didn’t change the game plan.
“It’s been part of our offense for a long time when we want to choose to do it, and we thought this was the right thing to do,” Carroll said. “You can question me on that if you want to, but that’s the way we decided to do it.”
And it’s admirable, maybe, to not want to use that as an excuse.
“It’s just me doing my part of those little moments and those key moments,” Wilson said. “I always call them game-altering plays and we had two of them and they didn’t go our way. So I take 100% accountability for that.”
Seattle had hoped that its running game might take some pressure off Wilson. But running just 20 plays in the first half made it hard to establish anything — Alex Collins was the only running back to carry the ball in the first half and had 23 yards on five attempts.
Seattle’s only threat of the first half came on the final drive when the Seahawks got to the 35. But a holding penalty on Damien Lewis then moved Seattle out of field goal range.
Seattle’s second drive of the third quarter was its best of the game, moving from the Seahawks 38 to the Green Bay 12. But then came Wilson’s ill-fated pass to Metcalf instead picked by King (though Carroll argued King didn’t have control of the ball, one of several calls on the night the Seahawks felt didn’t go their way).
After the Dunlap penalty and the Dillon TD came Wilson’s second interception and another long Packers drive to make it 17-0.
The Seahawks vainly tried to avoid the shutout, moving from their own 24 to the Green Bay 35 before time ran out on the game, though the Seahawks maintained, not on the season.
Still, with eight games left, the Seahawks have to go 6-2 to avoid the first losing season of Wilson’s career, and what is also probably the bare minimum for a playoff spot.
A tough task, but one the Seahawks also insisted is not impossible.
“We’re still in this thing,” safety Jamal Adams said. “Our confidence is not going to waver. We’re not going to change who we are. We are going to continue to compete, continue to work hard and continue to fight. That’s all we can do.”