Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, largely confined to working from the pocket due to his ankle and knee injuries, completed 23 of 32 passes for 309 yards – the sixth time in his career he has topped the 300-yard mark — and three touchdowns.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson couldn’t run much. Certainly not the way he usually does, something that despite his protestations about how good his knee and ankle felt, he grudgingly had to admit.
The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t run much either.
Certainly not the way they usually have the past few years, when their offense has been working at its best.
But in a surprisingly easy 27-17 victory Sunday over the New York Jets, Wilson and the Seahawks showed that the conventional wisdom of what they can do and who they are might be as ill-conceived as a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass thrown in the direction of Richard Sherman.
Wilson, largely confined to working from the pocket due to his ankle and knee injuries, completed 23 of 32 passes for 309 yards — the sixth time in his career he has topped the 300-yard mark — and three touchdowns.
It was a performance that compelled Seattle coach Pete Carroll to not only marvel at Wilson’s recuperative powers but also to lash out at any of his quarterback’s remaining critics.
“All those guys who say he can’t throw from the pocket, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Carroll said. “They don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s something they must have said a long time ago they’re still defending. Because he can throw it from anywhere. It doesn’t matter. We can put him in the pocket, he can roll, he can play-action — he can do anything.”
And Sunday he did it without any real help from a running game.
Seattle rushed for just 66 yards on 26 carries — the third-lowest total of the Wilson era.
But if you thought the Seahawks needed a running game to carry them, well, think again.
On consecutive scoring drives in the second quarter of 92 and 85 yards, the Seahawks rushed just five times for 15 yards.
No matter. Wilson instead completed all eight passes on those two drives for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
It wasn’t really a surprise to the Seahawks that they’d have to win the game this way. Going against a Jets’ defense that came in ranked third in the NFL against the run and unable to rely on Wilson’s mobility to add to the rushing attack, the Seahawks figured they’d have to throw.
“We thought that we would be forced to do more in the passing game because they’ve got such a dominant front four,” said receiver Doug Baldwin.
It should also, though, no longer be a surprise that the Seahawks can pull that off, not after what they did last year when Wilson threw 24 touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Still, the Seahawks know there were those wondering if Seattle could win a game with a gimpy Wilson and without the kind of running attack that was their forte in the Marshawn Lynch era.
“I think sometimes people just don’t watch the games anymore and they just go off what they heard or past rhetoric,” Sherman said. “Russell is a scrambler and only works outside the pocket. We don’t have any elite receivers. Jimmy Graham isn’t what he used to be.”
On this day, all that could be thrown out the window as easily as Wilson tossed a 42-yard touchdown to Tanner McEvoy in the second quarter that capped the second of the two long drives in that quarter.
McEvoy was part of a surprising trio that caught Wilson’s touchdown passes. Veteran running back C.J. Spiller, signed to the team only Wednesday, caught the first, an 8-yarder in the second quarter.
McEvoy caught the second.
And Christine Michael, who before last week had never scored a touchdown of any kind, caught the third, a 6-yarder in the fourth quarter on a day when he set a career-high with five receptions.
Then there was Graham, showing not only that the Seahawks know how to get the ball to him, but that less than 10 months removed from a knee injury some thought might be career-altering, he can still go up and catch it no matter how high.
“You see the playmakers that we have and that makes it easier on me in terms of throwing the ball,” Wilson said.
There also was a defense that held the Jets to 17 yards or less on six of seven second-half drives as the Seahawks pulled away.
It was a defense that for a brief moment looked vulnerable when the Jets drove 75 yards before halftime to score on a 17-yard Brandon Marshall touchdown reception perfectly placed in front of Sherman.
Sherman, as respectful of Marshall’s game as any receiver he faces, knew he might give up one.
He responded by getting two interceptions in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Asked what he thought of the Jets continuing to throw to Sherman, teammate Cliff Avril said: “I mean, good luck. There are only so many plays he is going to allow.”
Mostly, though, there was Wilson, who wasn’t so much limited as simply a little bit different, and ultimately as good as ever.
“I don’t doubt my ability,” Wilson said. “I think about staying in the pocket. Like I always tell you guys, I don’t want to run. You got those big bears chasing you out there. I just want to throw the ball to the right guy at the right time.”