CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The win Sunday began to really set this Seahawks team apart.
The 30-24 victory at Carolina — as unexpectedly nerve-wracking as it was — set a team record for being the seventh victory on the road against just one loss.
It also made Seattle 11-3 and meant that if the Seahawks win out, they’ll tie the 2013 and 2005 teams for the most victories in franchise history with 13 (you might recall each of those teams advanced to the Super Bowl).
Only three other Seattle teams have won at least 11 games in a season — the 2014 and 1984 squads that went 12-4 and the 2012 team that went 11-5. Each won at least one playoff game.
Much work remains, but a little history has already been made.
Onto the grades.
Russell Wilson, who came into the game with four consecutive games with passer ratings of less than 100 for the first time since his injury-riddled 2016 season, bounced back with one of his best games of the season – – 20 of 26 passing, 286 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a rating of 137.7, his second-best of the season (topped only by the 151.8 in the victory over the Rams).
Wilson hit seven of his first eight passes for 156 yards and a touchdown, with the only incompletion a throwaway on a pass to a well-covered George Fant. He had a perfect passer rating in the first half.
Chris Carson had a really big day when it was needed with a career-high 133 yards and no fumbles.
But there was some spottiness elsewhere.
This was billed as a big opportunity for C.J. Prosise as he is now the backup with Rashaad Penny out for the season.
But Prosise had just 15 yards on five carries in the first half and then never carried again after he almost lost a fumble at the Seattle 15-yard line (it was overturned via replay).
And when Seattle needed a backup for Carson late in the game, it was rookie Travis Homer who got the call, getting his first carry as a tailback (he had one earlier this season on a fake punt) in the fourth quarter.
Really nice days for the big two of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
Lockett, quiet the past three games while recovering from a shin contusion and a touch of the flu, bounced back in a big way with eight receptions for 120 yards, his fourth 100-yard game of the season.
Metcalf continued what is becoming the best season by a rookie receiver in Seattle history with an early touchdown.
And Josh Gordon finally made the kind of big play the team has been hoping for when he sneaked behind the Panthers defense in the second quarter and then leapt to make a diving grab of a Wilson pass for a 58-yard gain. Though the less said about Gordon’s passing, the better. What did Pete Carroll think of Gordon’s throw to Metcalf that was picked off? “His pick sucked” Carroll said with a laugh.
Jacob Hollister had another decent day with three catches on three targets for 23 yards. And the good news is Carroll said Luke Willson definitely will be back next week after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury.
A few penalties late, a couple the Seahawks protested, marred things a little bit.
But this was a good day overall, with the line helping Seattle move the ball at will early.
Carroll especially liked the push on the fourth-and-one play on which Carson scored in the fourth quarter. Jamarco Jones replaced Mike Iupati at guard for a few plays later. Carroll indicated it was not injury related.
With Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah out, the Seahawks went with Quinton Jefferson and Rasheem Green as the starting ends. Green responded with Seattle’s only sack of the day, giving him four for the year, the team high. That Seattle had just two QB hits out of its linemen is notable, though some of them pointed out later how quickly the Panthers were getting rid of the ball.
But the real key was some fine play by tackles Poona Ford and Jarran Reed to force interceptions in the third quarter.
First, Ford tipped a pass right into the hands of linebacker K.J. Wright to stop a Carolina drive that had reached the Seattle 39.
On the next series, a good rush by Reed to sniff out a bootleg forced Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen to throw it toward Wright to give Seattle the ball at the Panthers’ 21.
Two interceptions by Wright, another by Wagner and some steady play by Cody Barton (10 tackles in place of Mychal Kendricks at strongside linebacker) were highlights.
The Wagner injury was the lowlight, though the hope for Seattle is it’s nothing severe.
The Panthers easily drove for a touchdown after Wagner left with a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter and Seattle undoubtedly missed his leadership and setting the alignment on the field (which got worse when Wright then left for a few plays).
Not good late, but injuries undoubtedly took a toll.
The Seahawks played the second half without veteran Quandre Diggs, who suffered an ankle injury late in the second quarter. Seattle opted to go with Lano Hill as the other safety to pair with Bradley McDougald instead of rookie Marquise Blair.
Ugo Amadi had not played a snap on defense since the second game of the year but entered as the nickel on the third defensive play of the game and held that role throughout (and too bad for him he couldn’t hold on to that almost pick-six. But credit Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey with an amazing play on that one).
Another missed PAT by Jason Myers, but otherwise this was a solid day.
Homer again handled kickoff returns, and David Moore handled punt returns with Lockett still getting a break on those duties since his shin injury against the 49ers. Each did so without incident.
And Michael Dickson downed three of his four attempts inside the 20.