Of all of Russell Wilson's glittering stats, coach Pete Carroll may be most appreciative of his lack of interceptions.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Monday said he thinks quarterback Russell Wilson is now back to normal physically after dealing the first half of the season with a trio of injuries — which obviously is big of a reason as any for the increasing optimism surrounding the team.
“I thought he looked normal to me,’’ Carroll said. “I didn’t think there was any restriction last week, in this past game (Sunday’s 26-15 win over the Eagles).’’
But in some respects, Wilson may be better than ever.
While it’s plays such as his 35-yard touchdown to Jimmy Graham when he threw back across his body as he was running to his left that get attention, it’s also his decision-making that continues to wow Carroll.
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Specifically, Wilson has just two interceptions in 335 attempts this season, an interception rate of 0.6 that would be third all-time if it lasts for the season.
In fact, Wilson has just one interception in his last 322 attempts. His first of the year came on a third-and-five play in the second quarter of the opener against Miami when he scrambled out of pressure and threw deep downfield in the general direction of Luke Willson, with Dolphin safety Isa Abdul-Quddus instead picking it off — a play not quite as good as a punt, though that may well have been in Wilson’s mind at the time.
The other was a certifiably bad throw and decision — an interception on a first down at New Orleans that helped the Saints get back in the game, and a turning point in an eventual 25-20 Seattle loss.
Otherwise, Wilson has been about as careful with the ball as possible, with his lack of interceptions a key reason the Seahawks have not had a turnover in six of their last seven games and have just six giveaways for the season, tied with the Bills for the fewest in the NFL. That puts Seattle on pace to break its record for fewest turnovers, which not surprisingly was set just two years ago with 14. Seattle last year had 16, second-fewest in team history.
And to Carroll, there may be nothing else better that could be said about Wilson.
“It’s so important,’’ he said of Wilson’s lack of interceptions. “You’re seeing one of the great illustrations of why programs can stay winning. Without that, it just doesn’t happen. You’ve got to have a great dedication and respect for the ball. You have to do that. We’re trying to exemplify that better than anybody’s ever done it over a long period of time. You keep cranking out that emphasis, and Russell leads the charge. He’s got the ball in his hands on every snap on offense. They are great at it too. All of the factors, if you want to get down to one, I would say that would be the most key and crucial factor to both our teams and why we win some games and keep making it challenging every year.”
Wilson’s interception rate comes in a year when he is throwing the ball more than ever — he is on pace for 536 attempts, which would be a significant jump over his career-high of 483 last season.
Wilson threw eight picks last year, a ratio of 1.7 for the season. But he had just one in the last seven games, meaning he has just three in his last 17 games overall, or three interceptions in his last 566 passing attempts dating to the first Arizona game last season, 0.53 percent.
The top two lowest interception rates in NFL history are held by players who were not full-time starters — Kansas City’s Damon Huard, the former UW and Puyallup High star who had one pick in 244 attempts in eight starts, and Josh McCown, who had one interception in 224 attempts in five starts in 2013.
Wilson also has obviously persevered this season through a variety of injuries, that with each week the Seahawks seem to talk a little more frankly about.
Carroll mentioned again this week that the Seahawks had decisions to make for a few weeks about whether it made sense for Wilson to play.
“One week wasn’t going to make a difference,’’ Carroll said. “If you have a legitimate ankle sprain, it’s going to be three or four weeks in any way. The knee sprain was going to be three or four weeks before you get a legitimate factor. The trainers decided that he could endure it and go and he’d be alright with good luck and good fortune, which we did find our way to. He made it through it. If we sat him one week it wasn’t going to make a difference. He was still going to be hampered, so it was just the long haul thinking. He was determined that he could and he found a way to play. I think there’s something to that. I think great players find a way to still contribute. They adapt and make changes and they still can add to their team in all sports. I think that was a really great illustration of Russell being able to do that.”