Answering a couple of reader questions about the history of Seattle QBs catching passes, and why the Seahawks have had so many touchbacks.

Share story

Time to answer a couple reader questions via Twitter and e-mail.

The first one arrived via e-mail and touches on what was maybe the highlight play of Sunday’s win over the Eagles — Doug Baldwin’s 15-yard TD toss to QB Russell Wilson.

Q: Do you have any idea how many NFL quarterbacks have received a pass and scored a touchdown?

A: According to this 2014 Bleacher Report story, it had been done 14 times from 1970-2014, most recently by Andy Dalton of the Bengals. So, as far as I can tell, Wilson would be the 15th quarterback since 1970 to score a receiving touchdown.

As was reported at the time, no Seattle quarterback had ever before done it.

In fact, as far as I can tell, Wilson appears to be only the third Seahawks quarterback to ever catch a pass as a quarterback on play when he was the intended receiver (he also had a 17-yard non-scoring reception on a pass from Jermaine Kearse in 2014 in a 26-20 win over Denver).

I make that distinction because both Seneca Wallace and B.J. Daniels are listed as quarterbacks and caught passes, but as far as I can tell every pass they caught was when lined up as a receiver.

Also, Trent Dilfer and Dave Krieg each caught passes when they threw a pass that was batted and then came back to them and they caught it.

But as far as I can tell, only Wilson, Krieg and Jim Zorn have caught passes on plays when they were the intended receiver.

Zorn’s came in 1982 against Denver when he caught a 27-yard pass from kicker Norm Johnson on a fake field goal. It all went for naught, though, when Zorn threw an interception on a pass to Steve Largent in the end zone a few plays later (though Seattle still won 13-11).

The following year, Largent threw an 11-yard pass to Krieg on a trick play on a fourth-and-four at Kansas City. The play helped lead to a Seattle touchdown that cut the Chiefs’ lead to 42-38, a game that the Seahawks eventually won 51-48 in overtime, and which stands as the highest-scoring game in Seahawks history.

Baldwin, meanwhile, became the 26th non-quarterback to throw a pass for the Seahawks and one of just four to throw a touchdown. The others are receiver Golden Tate (a 23-yard pass to Sidney Rice in a 28-7 win over the Jets in 2012), running back Ricky Watters (a 1-yard pass to tight end Deems May in a 28-21 loss at Denver in 1998, which also served as the last touchdown of the Dennis Erickson era), and running back Dave Sims, who threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Largent in a 24-13 loss to Denver in 1977.

The touchdown moved Baldwin into a tie for 24th on the team’s all-time touchdown passing list — among those he is ahead of is Matt Flynn, who threw just nine passes, though none for a touchdown, in 2012.

Baldwin also became the 54th player in Seahawks history to throw a pass.

That he threw a TD on his only attempt gave Baldwin a perfect 158.3 passer rating. So that makes him tied with Tate in Seahawks history for highest passer rating, with the obvious caveat that it’s, well, as small of a sample size as there can be.

Q: @iplayedwithacat asks: What’s up with (Steven) Hauschka blasting kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks? Why not aim for goal line?

A: Hauschka did indeed kick all six kickoffs for touchbacks against the Eagles Sunday.

But I think the reason for that was simple — the Eagles came in leading the NFL in kickoff returns at whopping 33.7 on 18 attempts, having already returned two for touchdowns. So I think the Seahawks just wanted to avoid that. I guess one could argue Seattle should show more confidence in its coverage team. But especially once Seattle got the lead, I think a decent argument can be made to just kick it through the end zone and take your chances with the Eagles starting at their own 25.

The reader is on to something that Seattle is doing that more this season, however. Seattle is now averaging touchbacks on basically 78 percent of its kickoffs (77.78) with 42 on 54 total attempts, second-highest in the NFL.

Last year, Seattle’s touchback percentage was 47 percent, 26th highest.

Coaches generally say it’s a game-to-game thing — there are returners they want to avoid (as was obviously the case with the Eagles) and then times they think they can maybe gain an advantage. So maybe it’s as simple as that.

The obvious difference this year is that touchbacks are coming back to the 25 instead of the 20. So the Seahawks are losing more yards when just going with a touchback. But there hasn’t so far been much difference in where opponents have started either way — before Sunday, the average drive start for Seattle’s opponents on all kickoffs was the 25.3.

Possibly another factor is that kickoffs tend to be a play with one of the highest rates of injury. So maybe the Seahawks have wanted to avoid that a bit.

Seattle’s coverage units are statistically better this season, allowing 22.3 per return versus 25.5 last season. But that could also be due in part to how they are playing the kicks they are kicking short.

The Seahawks this week play a Tampa Bay team that is last in the league in kickoff returns at 14.8, so we’ll see if that also means a change in kickoff strategy.