Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that Seattle’s receivers are finally taking advantage of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s ability to move outside the pocket and create plays.
Carroll said scramble drill was a point of emphasis during practice this week. And it paid dividends on the first drive of the game, when Wilson moved to his right to by some more time, and found receiver Doug Baldwin for a 50-yard completion on a backside post route.
Baldwin’s catch was one of five passing plays of 15 yards or more for the Seahawks, as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did a nice job of using the play action game to create some chunk plays.
“We’ve been looking for explosive plays in the offense, and they’re just sitting there for us when he gets out swinging,” Carroll said. “There was a tremendous validation of what we had pointed out, and it was a factor in the game.”
For a second striaght week, Wilson’s final numbers were impressive. He finished 16 of 27 for 293 yards and three touchdown passes. He was sacked twice, and scrambled around for another 17 yards. He also fumbled on a stripped sack by New England rookie Chandler Jones.
Wilson finished with a 133.7 passer rating, outdueling one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game in New England’s Tom Brady.
“I think I’m just more experienced,” Wilson said about his improved play. “Being in those situations, you really have to trust what you see, and you really have to be quick with your decisions, but also believe in your decisions, and just be decisive with the football.
“Guys made some tremendous plays here, and I think it definitely helps with that experience.”
Rice hauls in game-winning score
It was a simple route really.
On first and 10 from New England’s 46-yard line and down 23-16, Wilson ran a play-action pass, rolling to his right to create some time and finding Sidney Rice wide open down the middle of the field for a game-winning score.
The Patriots were in a basic, Cover 2 shell in the back end of the defense. Rice cleared cornerback Devin McCourty, and then faked like he was going to the corner of the end zone.
New England safety Tavon Wilson bit hard on the out move, and Rice crossed back inside for the post, with Wilson unable to catch up.
The play was an example of the chemistry and that Wilson, Rice and the rest of the receiving group have been working to establish early in the season paying off in a big way at a critical stage of the game.
“When I gave him the corner move, his job is to protect that half of the field,” Rice said. “And he bit down on it. So it was basically a double move, and I was able to get across his face.”
Defense bends, doesn’t break
You don’t usually give up 475 total yards and still win the NFL.
But with Seattle’s top-rated defense facing the No. 1-ranked offense in New England, the Seahawks hunkered down where it mattered most – in the red zone.
The Seahawks held Tom Brady and the Patriots to 1 of 6 in the red zone. The only touchdown they gave up inside the 20-yard line was a 3-yard score to tight end Aaron Hernandez, with New England taking advantage of a good matchup against safety Jeron Johnson.
Carroll said New England’s no-huddle offense was not a factor in the defense’s performance.
“That really was not even an issue,” Carroll said. “They did not up-tempo it but a few plays; they didn’t go that way for whatever reason. We were ready for it, that was not an issue at all in the game.
“We were able to substitute – we moved guys in and out.”
But Brady was effective. He finished 36 of 58 passing for 395 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions, one to Earl Thomas in the end zone and another to Richard Sherman where he tried to force a fade route to Deion Branch.
Brady was only sacked once, but also had two intentional grounding calls.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tom Brady,” Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. “But we went and got it today. We went and got the win as a team.”
Carroll said cornerback Byron Maxwell re-injured his hamstring, defensive back Kam Chancellor suffered an elbow injury and offensive tackle Paul McQuistan had a knee issue. All three will be evaluated further on Monday.