As significant Northwest debuts go, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was about a dinghy short of Capt. George Vancouver.
As for Matt Flynn . . . he seems like the guy who came to town the day after the circus left.
Given permission Monday to run with the ones, Wilson acted 33 instead of 23. Against a good defense in a hostile road house, Wilson acted like he owned the joint. He made his head coach, the guy out there on the high-wire, look like Karl Wallenda.
One half doesn’t make a career . . . or does it?
After getting scores on six of the eight possessions he directed in the first two preseason games, Wilson took the first unit to scores on their first six possessions Friday night — three field goals, three touchdowns — and defense and special teams added a TD each to crush the Kansas City Chiefs 44-14.
In a word, it was astonishing. Preseason, yes. But Wilson even made WR Terrell Owens look good (two catches).
“I’m just excited to watch him play,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters afterward. “He continues to show poise and composure well beyond three games.
“Honestly, this is what we had hoped to see. We saw what he did the first two games, and wanted to see if he could do it again. He was very comfortable for the most part, took off (running) when he needed to. We also wanted to see what happened if he (hung in the pocket).”
It was almost all good. Wilson completed 13 of 19 passes for 185 yards and two TDs for a QB rating of 134.8, plus two scrambles from the pocket that picked up 59 yards. And no turnovers. He wasn’t perfect, but he was way too good for rookie — and a third-rounder at that — in his first start. In the absence of Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson saw his first action of the preseason in the second half, completing three of five passes for a single yard.
After an off-season of public debate and controversy about the quarterback spot, Friday night made it easy for Carroll to determine his regular-season starter, even though he said nothing about it post-game.
Flynn, the presumed starter after he signed a three-year, $26 million free agent deal to leave Green Bay in the off-season, was held out of the game because of a sore elbow that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice too. But after the understudy sucked up all the lights on Broadway, even good health won’t be much help.
“It cropped up mid-week — nothing he’s ever had before,” Carroll said of Flynn’s elbow problem. “We thought it might be all right before the game, but he couldn’t throw. It’s a tendinitis-type thing. It wasn’t because he got hit.”
Flynn has looked solid in preseason, but few beyond Carroll figured on Wilson’s transcendence. Beyond his passing accuracy, Wilson’s ability to turn a failing play into a positive continues to distinguish him.
Ahead 9-0 in the second quarter, the Seahawks defense, which shut down the Chiefs all night, forced a a three-and-out. Wilson took the next snap, dropped three steps, felt the pressure and took off, first going right, then sweeping left for 31 yards, cool as sunny afternoon in a Seattle fall.
On the next play, another impressive rookie, running back Robert Turbin from Utah State, ran for 14 yards, mostly on second effort. Then Wilson had a gimme, a wide-open Kellen Winslow, who caught a 21-yard pass for a touchdown and a 16-0 lead.
Calm from the outset, Wilson kept getting better.
“I felt I was ready to go,” he told the Fox broadcast crew after the game. “When you’re prepared, you’re never nervous. That’s the way I’ve always been.
All I know is I try to do the best I can to make team better. I keep growing and learning, and we’ll see it happens.”
Through the 3-0 exhibition start, Wilson is 35 of 52 for 464 yards, five touchdowns, one interception and 150 yards rushing.
And it was said that, at 5-foot-11, he was too short to be a QB in the NFL.
Less surprising but no less effective was Seattle’s defense. Aside from a second-quarter drive of 80 yards over 17 plays that produced a touchdown, the Chiefs were regularly throttled. KC quarterback Matt Cassel, who played under Carroll at USC, was heavily harassed. Sacked twice, he finished with 19 completions in 34 attempts and 168 yards (a rating of 66.8) and an interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
The other stars were Golden Tate, who returned a punt 92 yards for a score, and Turbin, who finished with 93 yards in 14 carries.
Turbin is a really good football player,” Carroll said. “We’re sohappy with the pick (fourth round). We really wanted someone to complement (starter) Marshawn Lynch. What a great draft pick for us.
“We did a lot of really good, positive things in all ways. I’m excited we took care of the football, played good defense and ran it well enough to control the game.”