Wilson’s run at MVP:
Seattle QB has put on an offensive show to carry team into first.
SEATTLE Don’t overlook Russell Wilson as a candidate for NFL MVP.
That’s the big takeaway from Week 8 and the Seattle Seahawks’ wild 41-38 shootout win against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans, a game in which Wilson accounted for all but three of his team’s 479 total offensive yards.
“If there were any doubts about Russell, what he can do, there is no limit,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “That was a fantastic day.”
After his career-best passing performance against the Texans, Wilson moved into fifth in the NFL in passing yards and was fifth behind the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Smith with 15 touchdown passes. It would not be difficult to argue that no quarterback is doing more with less than Wilson is.
The Seahawks’ running game is ranked 21st with an average of 97.6 yards per game. But nearly 28 yards per game are coming from Wilson, who was his team’s leading rusher against Houston with 30 yards. He has been sacked 16 times and frequently has been hit or forced to scramble while playing behind a struggling offensive line.
That has put a disproportionate share of the burden on Wilson and the passing game, especially on a day such as Oct. 29, when the quarterback had to match Watson and the Texans score for score.
Rising to such an occasion would have been inconceivable a month ago, when the Seahawks were among the lowest-scoring teams in the league after the first two games, with just nine points in a season-opening loss against the Green Bay Packers and 12 points the next week in a win against the San Francisco 49ers.
But Seattle is now averaging nearly 32 points per contest during their four-game winning streak.
“(Wilson) bailed us out. He was lights-out down the stretch,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “In a game where in years past we may have kind of wavered and it might’ve been one where it could have gotten away, he didn’t give up. He never stopped fighting. He stayed poised, the offense executed, and they won the game for us. They bailed us out. They bailed us out in a big way.”
Indeed, moments that launched Wilson into the MVP discussion came at the very end of the game — and after his only big mistake, when he threw a redzone interception with 2:55 remaining in the game. It felt like a deflating, game-defining moment, but Wilson said later that he believed he could lead one more scoring drive if given the chance.
With 1:39 on the clock and no timeouts remaining, he was granted his opportunity.
Wilson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell immediately turned to a handful of big-chunk play calls they had discussed moments before. First, a deep pass to Paul Richardson down the left seam for 48 yards. Then, a 19-yard strike to Tyler Lockett. Finally, tight end Jimmy Graham hauled in the 18-yard game-winner.
“We’ve got a lot of talent. It really comes down to us executing at a high level, and we did that flawlessly in that last drive to win the game,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
The Seahawks have started to prove over the last month that they can win these style of highscoring games, even if that hasn’t traditionally been their winning formula for much of Wilson’s tenure.
Seattle will likely win more games geared toward the defense in the future, and it certainly will need more significant contributions from the running game. But for now, the Seahawks have a heightened confidence in the offense, with Wilson able to take over when other pieces are faltering.
“We’ll build on this and kind of put that confidence in our back pocket so that if we ever do get into this situation again, we know we can do it,” Baldwin said.
Besides throwing for 452 yards and four TDs, quarterback Russell Wilson had 30 of the Seahawks’ 33 rushing yards against the Texans.