Russell Wilson outdueled Aaron Rodgers at the very end, and the Seahawks finally closed out a fourth quarter on top. With the win, Seattle moves back to .500 and stays in contention for an NFC playoff spot.
Even though Pete Carroll has often seen Russell Wilson shrug off a few bad moments to come through when it matters most, the coach in him still feels compelled to check in when his quarterback has a few uncharacteristic plays.
So during a rugged first quarter for Wilson and the Seahawks on Thursday might in what was pretty much a must-win game against the Green Bay Packers, Carroll asked his quarterback if everything was OK.
“He said ‘I’m going to be all right. I’m going to be all right,’ ’’ Carroll said. “And he was exactly right.’’
Then Carroll, in the happy tumult of a come-from-behind 27-24 win over the Packers that kept Seattle’s playoff hopes at a realistic level, said he thinks he knows what Wilson might actually have been thinking.
“”Shut up coach,’ is what he really could have said,’ ’’ Carroll said.
Said Wilson a little more diplomatically later of his 3-for-8 start in the first quarter: “He just said ‘Hey, calm down’ and I said, ‘Hey I’m good’ … sometimes you shoot and it goes off the rim. You just keep shooting.’’
And when it mattered most, Wilson outshot a quarterback often regarded as one of the best in NFL history — Aaron Rodgers.
While Rodgers took a sack on a third-down play deep in Seattle territory midway through the fourth quarter and lost the grip on a pass a series later to an open receiver on a third down on what turned out to be Green Bay’s final series, Wilson completed 4 of 5 passes for 73 yards to lead the Seahawks to the game-winning touchdown.
“I’ll go to war with that guy any day,’’ said Seattle tight end Ed Dickson, who has also played with Cam Newton and Joe Flacco during his career.
It was Dickson who caught the game-winner with 5:08 left on a 15-yard pass from Wilson on a third-and-nine.
Wilson and Dickson read that the Packers were showing blitz, which meant that Dickson had to adjust his route from going across the middle to instead heading vertically down the seam and into the end zone.
As cornerback Josh Jackson rushed off the edge — the Packers brought five on the play — Dickson went to the open spot in the seam and Wilson hit him with a pass before the Packers knew what had hit them.
“Ed made a vet play,’’ said Wilson of Dickson, who has been with Seattle just this season but in the NFL for nine years.
Said Dickson: “I saw vertical and Russ threw a great ball. … Russ threw kind of a hot ball out there, and I had chance to score a touchdown.’’
The Seahawks then held the Packers to three-and-out and a punt with 4:20 left, with Green Bay stopped after Rodgers misfired on a throw to an open Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Green Bay had just one timeout left at that point and considered going for it before deciding to kick, banking they could get the ball back one more time.
“I really did like that they punted the ball there,’’ Carroll said later with a smile.
The Seahawks then got the ball at their 20 with 4:11 left, knowing two first downs would end the game.
During the Packers’ final series, left tackle Duane Brown gathered the offensive line.
“I told the guys, ‘We get back on the field, it’s a wrap,’ ’’ Brown said. “We’ve got 5 to 6 minutes, it’s up to us to leave it all out there. And everybody responded.’’
Indeed, Wilson ran for 8 yards to pick up one first down and Mike Davis — in his role as the team’s two-minute back — picked up another with runs of four and seven, and that was that.
To Carroll, that might have been the best sequence of the game.
“Thrilled to see that happen, the mentality that is going around, and those guys up front (and) the runners and all that — it’s really important, it’s really valuable, it’s great to see that happen,’’ Carroll said.
Most valuable was that it got Seattle back to even at 5-5. The Packers, one of a handful of teams the Seahawks are competing with for one of the final two wild-card spots in the NFC with the West division title firmly in the hands of the Rams, fell to 4-5-1.
Seattle hardly showed the urgency early, however, with Chris Carson losing a fumble on the first play of the game that led to a Green Bay touchdown.
A Rodgers 54-yard TD pass to Robert Tonyan then made it 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
“At 14-3 it didn’t look very good,’’ Carroll admitted. “The first half, we were really kind of off our game,’’
No one more so early than Wilson, who threw a pass far over the head of Doug Baldwin for a potential touchdown, which forced Seattle to settle for a field goal in the first quarter.
“I think he was fired up,’’ Carroll said. “He was hopped up.’’
Wilson, though, though finally calmed down and found his game in the second quarter when he went 10 for 11 to lead the Seahawks to two touchdowns and a 17-14 lead.
But another Rodgers-led drive gave Green Bay a 21-17 lead at halftime.
It was 21-20 midway through the fourth quarter when Rodgers made the kind of throw that has given him his well-deserved rep of hanging in against a strong rush, connecting with Davante Adams for a 57-yard pass on third-and-nine from the Green Bay 26
Adams beat Shaquill Griffin on the play with Griffin saying he thought Adams was showing an inside release and just read the route wrong.
Griffin at least made the tackle of Adams at the 16, and that proved pivotal when on third-and-five Rodgers was unable to find anyone open and was sacked by rookie Rasheem Green — Seattle’s fifth sack of the game — forcing the Packers to settle for a field goal and a 24-20 lead with 8:27 left. Rodgers said later there was miscommunication on the play with Adams over which route he was running, which caused him to hold on to the ball longer than he intended.
On came Wilson, who said in the huddle “let’s go win’’ and then proceeded to lead the Seahawks down the field.
On third-and-three from the 32 hit Tyler Lockett for 18 yards to midfield, and then on the next play hit Lockett for 34 more to the Green Bay 16, setting up the third-down game-winner to Dickson two plays later.
And if the fourth quarter magic had seemed gone in recent weeks, Wilson showed it’s still never really all that far away.