The Seahawks won a football game when Russell Wilson didn’t display every superpower on the roster of The Avengers.
As likely you are aware, the Seahawks have become so reliant on Wilson that there was talk he might adopt the entire team as dependents. After all, a rich guy like Wilson needs every tax deduction he can get.
Instead, the kids appear to be heading out on their own.
In a gravelly 17-9 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday (box) , the Seahawks discovered more game-breakers.
On offense, two reserves were prominent — WR Malik Turner made a spectacular, full-stretch grab in the end zone of 33 yards for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. The second TD came on a 58-yard burst from RB Rashaad Penny that, coach Pete Carroll said, “looked like he was shot out of a cannon.”
On defense, the entire unit excelled in a fashion begun in the previous game against the San Francisco 49ers. They picked up five turnovers and sacked QB Carson Wentz four times in holding the Eagles without a touchdown until the final minute.
All without DE Jadeveon Clowney, the NFL defensive player of the previous week who sat out with a sore hip.
Carroll was thrilled that the shutdown of the 49ers — only one offensive TD allowed then too — was not a one-off.
“We just turned the corner in the last week,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you that (then) because it happened just once. To see our guys penetrating like that, we were close a lot (on disrupting Wentz). Clowney was the trigger, but he’s sitting over here with me.
“It’s an exciting emergence that we hope to capitalize on.”
Wilson had little concern that he had, for the league’s potential MVP, a modest outing — 13 of 25 passing for 200 yards and an interception for a 75.9 passer rating. His second-quarter overthrow of wide-open TE Jacob Hollister seven yards in front of him in the end zone dropped jaws around the league.
“Sometimes you miss a layup,” he said, grinning. “I can’t even explain it.”
He didn’t have to, because the Seahawks won. They won for the ninth time in 11 games, and are 6-0 on on the road, best in the NFL and in club history, where the top single-season game mark is 6-2. They also have won 15 of the past 21 games that had a 10 a.m. PT start.
“We rose to the occasion today in a tough environment, cold and windy, out east again, to be 6-0,” Wilson said. “The great thing is, we’re playing great football.
“And the greater thing is, we can play even better. That’s the scary part for the NFL.”
That’s a lot of “great,” and as close as Wilson gets to bragging. He’s entitled.
Sunday he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a winning record in his first eight seasons (Pats QB Tom Brady didn’t start in his first season, but he’s started with winners 19 years in a row).
The feat speaks to the entire team, because as much as he has carried the show this season, the Seahawks’ consistent excellence in the Carroll/Wilson era is a marvel in the time of free agency, and especially this season. Wilson’s huge contract extension in the off-season was assumed by many to preclude a serious playoff run because there would be too little room under the salary cap to populate the roster with quality talent.
The ability to get production from down-roster players is essential for any successful NFL team. The Seahawks do it as well as anyone, and on the fly. Clowney, FS Quandre Diggs and WR Josh Gordon were all acquired after training camp began.
Also essential is patience, because some players develop more slowly. Penny, for example. He had a career-high 129 yards on 14 carries, yet was believed by many to have been a draft over-reach after a slow 2018 following his selection with a first-round pick.
— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SONTSeattle) November 24, 2019
Penny admitted he didn’t quite get how to be a pro last year.
“I’m doing way better than in the past,” he said. “I’ve stopped eating at McDonald’s. That was hard for me. I got serious about football.
“I didn’t take my rookie season as seriously as I am now.”
With the help of a nutritionist and advice from starting RB Chris Carson, Penny cut his weight from 238 a year ago to 230 now with a goal to get to 225. Always a burner, Penny had a higher gear Sunday that helped out-run a good Eagles defense.
“I felt an extra burst,” he said. “I was pretty pleased with myself when I came back to the sidelines. I was ‘wooing’ myself how fast I was.”
Penny’s breakaway with 12 minutes left opened up an an unnecessarily taut 10-3 game that the Seahawks created mostly with their own errors, including 12 penalties for 90 yards, two turnovers and several dropped passes, the latter due in some part to the windy conditions.
One mistake could have been disastrous. At the Seattle 30-yard line, Carson had no idea he was supposed to be the rusher when Wilson tried and failed to hand him the ball. The turnover amounted to naught when the defense stoned the Eagles into a 4-and-out turnover on downs. Still . . .
“We had a naked (bootleg pass) on, and we changed the play to a run,” Wilson said. “I got to make sure he knows, and be really clear on what we’re trying to do.
“I’ll put it on me, for sure.”
More likely is that Carson blew the call. But Wilson has broad shoulders.
Before exuberance among 12s runs amok, the Eagles (5-6) were missing their top three receivers as well as premier RT Lane Johnson (concussion) and starting RB Jordan Howard. And Wentz (two fumbles, two picks) had several unforced errors on his own, suggesting that the $108 million contract extension he was given earlier in the year may have been a dubious investment.
No such concerns in Seattle with Wilson, who may be somewhat relieved to know that he doesn’t have to buy the groceries, cook the meal and clean the table every Sunday.
Carroll certainly sounded like the turn of events were welcome, even when the opportunity for a rout dwindled into tension by their own hands.
“We’re in control of what we want to do with this season,” he said. “These guys know how to get that done.”
Not bad for a team that began the season with the NFL’s fourth-youngest roster. The adoption papers can be put away.