EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was posted before the Seahawks announced receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating its policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After snagging two interceptions against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said he had a dream in which he had two picks the night before. “You don’t have to believe me, but it happened,” Wright said.
As far as the Seahawks’ offense goes? I imagine Sunday’s performance was what coach Pete Carroll has been dreaming about all season.
The Seahawks’ 30-24 victory over Carolina won’t go down as their most dominant display of the season. There were lapses defensively, a trick play gone very wrong and a couple of breaks that saved would-be turnovers.
But in terms of showcasing every weapon the offense had? That was what people were waiting for.
We can start with quarterback Russell Wilson, who had a perfect passer rating through most of the first half and finished 20 of 26 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. That might not seem like an eye-popping total in an era where 300 yard-games and 5,000-yard seasons are commonplace for QBs, but it was efficiency epitomized.
Carroll generally doesn’t want Wilson throwing 35-40 times per game. That usually means his team is trailing or the running game isn’t working. So to see that performance — which was punctuated by a scramble-turned-14-yard completion to Tyler Lockett on third-and-11 to ice the game — was everything you’d want from the man right guard D.J. Fluker calls “the real MVP.”
Of course, Fluker was even more complimentary of running back Chris Carson after the game. Makes sense considering Carson racked up a career-high 133 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The stat line was particularly impressive given that Carson’s longest run was 23 yards, meaning his numbers weren’t inflated by one play.
Any fear fellow running back Rashaad Penny’s season-ending knee injury would impair the ground game was temporarily alleviated. Carson showed he can handle the workload exclusively.
The knock, of course, is that this came against the 5-9 Panthers, who have the NFL’s third-worst run defense. Still, this wasn’t Carson benefiting from a team in disarray so much as it was him pummeling anyone standing in front of him.
As Fluker said: “Chris was like Superman today. … Linebackers don’t want no part of him.”
I promise Fluker wasn’t the only player made available after the game. His quotes just tend to be particularly colorful. The same could be said of Lockett’s play, as the receiver reminded folks what he could do when he wasn’t battling injury or the flu.
Lockett finished with 120 yards and a TD on eight receptions. He had a 44-yard catch in the first quarter that led to the Seahawks’ second TD. It was his first 100-plus-yard receiving game in more than a month, and Carroll made sure to give him his props.
“There were a lot of really cool things in this game. I was really excited to see Tyler Lockett get back in action. He was a really big factor,” said Carroll, adding it had “been awhile” since we’ve seen the real Lockett. “You could see how Russell was making stuff happen, because he and Tyler were just phenomenal together.”
It wasn’t just Lockett, though. It was Josh Gordon diving to reel in a 58-yard reception that led to a touchdown five plays later. It was DK Metcalf catching a 19-yard TD over a helpless defender one drive earlier. Whether it was a draft pick, contract extension or midseason acquisition, all the Seahawks’ decisions for the offense seemed justified Sunday in North Carolina.
Obviously, the defense wasn’t quite as strong, as it allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns. But five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner wasn’t on the field for either of those, and All-Pro defensive end Jadeveon Clowney didn’t suit up.
All things considered, the Seahawks seem to be playing the kind of football they want as the postseason looms.
That kind of production will be necessary if Seattle (11-3) wants to win the NFC West, which it can with victories over Arizona and San Francisco the next two weeks. It should be enough to contend with any playoff opponent, too.
We’ve now seen what the offense can do. Going forward, that will be what it has to do.