After eluding and backpedaling away from at least two Arizona defenders, Wilson finds Doug Baldwin for a thrilling 54-yard gain that set up Seattle’s final touchdown.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Up by less than a touchdown on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, in an ugly game that saw nine Seahawks leave at some point to get examined for injuries, Russell Wilson decided he was done playing around.
On second-and-21 in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks lined up on their own 44-yard line, Wilson dropped back, faked the handoff to J.D. McKissic, then looked pulled out some classic Wilson wizardry.
Wilson dropped back to the 35 and surveyed the field. Nothing open.
He rolled left, still looking downfield. Still no one open.
Then, there came defenders – not one, but two – barreling down the numbers trying to chase him down.
Wilson scurried back and spun. His defenders slowed, but continued their pursuit. He back pedaled some more, and faked a throw, spinning again. Once again, they followed, one defensive back leaping as if to deter any possible throw. Five yards. Ten yards. He was at his 30, running away from the line of scrimmage.
Then, Wilson saw Baldwin, with one-on-one coverage on the left side.
Off his back foot and throwing across his body, Wilson released the ball, hurling it toward Baldwin, who outplayed his defender, hauled down the ball and scooted down the left sideline until he was shoved out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
Wilson’s clutch throw and Baldwin’s miraculous catch set up Wilson’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham on the next play that put the game away for the Seahawks, who beat Arizona 22-16.
“I saw (Arizona linebacker) Chandler Jones, and whenever you see him right there, it is never a good thing,” Wilson said. “I was trying to find a way to get some space and get away from him. I think I spun back twice or whatever and gave Doug a chance to make a play when he was one-on-one.
“I don’t think anyone can cover Doug yet one-on-one. He’s pretty special. So I gave him a chance and he made a play.”
That 54-yard pass to Baldwin was a momentum shifter. Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll struggled to find words to describe the play.
He settled on “phenomenal” and said,“I can’t wait to see it again.”
“It seemed like it took forever. It was just fantastic execution and chemistry between those two guys to get that done,” Carroll said. “I thought Russell did a nice job tonight. He was resourceful.”
How many quarterbacks in the NFL could have made that throw?
“One. Just one,” said Baldwin, who did a masterful job himself of delivering a block at the start of the play, then staying in tune with his quarterback’s whereabouts and figuring out a way to get open and give Wilson someone to throw to.
“I felt like he was gonna take off running,” said Baldwin, who finished with five receptions for 95 yards. “So I engaged and then looked back and tried to figure it out on the fly.”
Wilson’s teammates were equal parts dumbfounded and unsurprised by that play – which seems impossible until you recall which quarterback you’re talking about.
“I got a front row at the magic show for one of his Houdini plays,” center Justin Britt said, grinning. “That’s just Russ being Russ. You love to have a playmaker like that on our team.
“He’s one of the only quarterbacks who can make a play like that, and then you’ve got an incredible slot player in Doug who makes those kind of plays.”
Left tackle Duane Brown, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans two weeks ago, said he’s always admired Wilson’s playmaking ability from afar, but that it’s a whole different kind of jaw-dropping when you’re watching it in person.
Brown wasn’t on the field for that play because he left the game at the end of the first half with an ankle injury. But he got to take it all in from a prime spot on the Seahawks’ sideline.
“It was incredible, man,” Brown said. “Watching from afar, you always admire those kinds of plays, but seeing it, that’s pretty incredible. The kind of player he is, it’s just not your typical, orthodox play. It’s otherworldly. I’m just glad he’s on my team now.”
Wilson finished 22 of 32 for 238 yards with two touchdowns, but his performance in this game was one that had to be seen to be appreciated.