After helping to lead his team to a 16-12 win over Carolina – Seattle’s first win on the road this season — Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson admitted to hearing the critics of his play up until this point of the season.
And while Wilson did not play flawlessly – he finished 19 of 25 for 221 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown to Golden Tate and two interceptions – he feels like today’s victory was a step in the right direction.
“I use it as fire,” Wilson said about the critics. “I ignore the noise all the time, but at the same time, I know that I have to get better. I’m a self motivator. That’s the way I’ve always been.
“I trust in what I’m doing. And I trust the steps that I’m taking every single day to get there early, and to watch tons of film and take tons of notes – all that attention to detail it takes to be good at what you do. I can never let that waver.”
One area Wilson showed improvement was on third down. Seattle finished 7 of 14 on the money down against the Panthers, helping to extend drives.
But still, the Seahawks had too many costly penalties on offense – three that negated 81 yards of offense in the first half, including a 56-yard bomb to Tate.
Things were so bad that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll took right tackle Breno Giacomini out of the game in the first half after a holding call and a personal foul penalty, putting Frank Omiyale in for a series.
“I had to sit him down,” Carroll said. “We’re talking so clearly about the issues that are coming up with these penalties. I’ve been with him and on him since OTAs. But it showed up again. .. But we had to sit him down just to make the statement that you can’t keep doing stuff.”
Carroll said after the put Giacomini back in, Seattle’s coaching staff told him he couldn’t have any more penalties for the rest of the game, and he came through the rest of the game okay.
But overall, Carroll liked the improvement Seattle made on offense, and stands by Wilson as the team’s quarterback moving forward – for now.
“I thought Russell played a great football game today,” Carroll said. “He was in control the whole time. He had one throw that got away from him. He terrific on third down. He only missed one completion on third down … I think Russell really showed his strength as a football player and a competitor to just hang in there.
“There’s been a lot of scrutiny about him and all that stuff, but he had a great week and put it all together for us.”
A goal line stand to remember
Carolina had the ball on Seattle’s 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal with about four minutes left, trailing 16-10.
And with 6-foot-5, 245-pound bruising quarterback Cam Newton, everybody on Seattle’s defense sensed a quarterback sneak would be the call, with Newton jumping over the pile for a score.
Except for safety Earl Thomas. Because of the team’s success against opposing teams in snuffing out runs on the goal line with run through blitzes by Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Thomas thought the Panthers might go play action.
“If I make up my mind, I’m blitzing,” Thomas said. “I don’t care really what the call was. If I feel like it’s a run in a crucial situation, I’m gone. And they see that on film.”
Newton said that he had a run-pass option, but decided to go with the pass at the line of scrimmage. Thomas believes that Newton seeing Seattle’s tendancy to blitz in those situations played a role in the Carolina quarterback changing the play, something Carroll couldn’t have been happier about.
“We were expecting that he was going to jump over the top,” Carroll said. “And so everybody was ready and raring to go. But when he pulled out to throw the football it was like, ‘Hallelujah, we’ve got a chance.’”
Cornerback Brandon Browner also played an important role in setting up a play. Without Seattle’s big corner keeping Carolina receiver Louis Murphy out of the end zone on third down with a sure tackle, the Seahawks would have not had an opportunity for the big stop.
Browner also had a key play that set up Seattle’s go-ahead touchdown, stringing out an option play, and then tackling Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams behind the line of scrimmage, stripping him of the ball and recovering it Carolina’s 27-yard line.
Tate put Seattle up for good five plays later on a 13-yard touchdown reception from Wilson.
“Brandon’s play where he takes the ball from him on the option was a terrific play,” Carroll said. “But then he makes a terrific tackle to put them in fourth and 1 there, when most of the time guys get in the end zone. But he just didn’t let it happen.”
Marshawn’s beastly run
Although Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch finished with just 85 yards on 21 carries, 11 of the most important yards came with the Seahawks backed up on their own goal line after taking over the ball on downs.
On third-and-seven from Seattle’s own 4-yard line, Lynch bulled his way through Carolina’s defense for 11 yards with 2:58 remaining and Seattle up 16-10, giving the Seahawks some breathing room and allowing them to burn more clock.
“His run to knock us off the goal line was a huge play for us by the guys up front,” Carroll said. “To give us the clock and the opportunity to take the safety and all of that stuff, with not much time left, that was really fantastic effort there, too.”
Added Seattle defensive end Red Bryant: “Marshawn is a guy that I know, speaking for myself and the defense, we feed off of. Because that’s the type of mentality that we’ve got. We’re going to find a way.”
The Seahawks had to punt from their own 18-yard line with 59 second remaining. But rather than risking the possibility of Carolina blocking the punt, Carroll had punter Jon Ryan run out of the back of the end zone and take a safety instead.
“I said let’s kick it from the 20 with a free kick opportunity and see what happens,” Carroll said. “Because so many things can go wrong, and the pressure of the rush and all of that. And the we knew the differential was fine, so he could be contacting the ball at the 20 instead of the six of something.”
Of course, Seattle long snapper Clint Gresham’s delivery was a little high, creating some extra tension that Carroll could do without.
“No, that was just one drama of the today,” said Carroll with a smile.
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald suffered a groin injury, and will be evaluated further when the team gets home to Seattle on Monday.