Vancouver Sun

With Wil­son lead­ing way, Seattle now 4-0 on sea­son

Bro­ken head­set `no panic' for vet­eran QB as he en­gi­neers de­ci­sive drives against Mi­ami

- BOB CONDOTTA Sports · College Sports · American Football · NFL Football · Miami · Hard Rock Stadium · Russell Wilson · Ryan Fitzpatrick · Peyton Manning · Seattle · Miami Dolphins · Brian Schottenheimer · Shaquill Griffin · Pete Carroll · Jamal Adams · Xavien Howard

The Mi­ami Dol­phins had cut Seattle's lead to two mid­way through the fourth quar­ter, and the 13,000 fans at Hard Rock Sta­dium — the first time this year the Sea­hawks played be­fore any spec­ta­tors — were do­ing what they could to rock the place hard.

And sud­denly, quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son couldn't hear a thing.

It wasn't be­cause of the fans, though.

In­stead, Wil­son's head­set went out on the first play of the next drive leav­ing him un­able to hear the play calls from of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Brian Schot­ten­heimer up in the coach's box.

No mat­ter.

The fa­mously un­flap­pable Wil­son took the play-call­ing du­ties into his own hands and calmly led a 75yard scor­ing drive that gave Seattle the cush­ion it needed to beat Mi­ami 31-23 Sun­day.

“You don't freak out,'' Wil­son said of the faulty head­sets. “You just know what we want to do and how we want to at­tack them and you go do it.''

Wil­son capped the six-play drive with a 17-yard touch­down pass to David Moore that made it 24-15 with 5 minutes, 24 sec­onds left. A few plays later, Shaquill Grif­fin picked off a Ryan Fitz­patrick pass, and Seattle drove quickly for an­other score — from a yard out by Chris Car­son — with four minutes left and that was ba­si­cally that.

The win made Seattle 4-0 for only the sec­ond time in fran­chise his­tory, the other com­ing in 2013. That team went on to win the Su­per Bowl be­hind a his­tor­i­cally great de­fence.

This team, as line­backer K.J. Wright — one of two de­fen­sive starters left from that team — said later, has “com­pletely flipped'' the script from a de­fence that was “shut­ting teams down'' to an of­fence that “is un­stop­pable.''

For the first time this year, though, there was a lit­tle bit more of a meld­ing of those two for­mu­las.

A de­fence that had been al­low­ing al­most 29 points per game didn't give up a touch­down un­til there was 1:50 left, and forced two turnovers that led to 14 points.

Un­til Mi­ami's score, the Sea­hawks had al­lowed only five field goals, us­ing a lit­tle bit more of a pas­sive ap­proach — less blitz­ing and more drop­ping play­ers in cov­er­age a lit­tle bit deeper — to per­fect a bend-but-don't-break style that may re­ally fit this Seattle team, given how well the of­fence has been play­ing.

“We knew that we had to sink back, keep ev­ery­thing in front of us,'' Wright said.

Af­ter giv­ing up four plays of 40 yards or more last week and seven of 28 or more, Seattle didn't al­low any play of longer than 26 against Mi­ami, and only one of longer than 21.

“We re­ally kept them in front of us and made them work their way down,'' said Sea­hawks coach Pete Car­roll, who had seemed vis­i­bly frus­trated last week at the man­ner in which Seattle was giv­ing up big plays in un­char­ac­ter­is­tic bunches.

And Seattle did it de­spite play­ing with­out in­jured strong safety Ja­mal Adams and cor­ner­back Quin­ton Dunbar, whose ab­sences prob­a­bly con­trib­uted to the Sea­hawks play­ing it a lit­tle more safe — on one third-and-10 late in the game Seattle dropped nine into cov­er­age. Fitz­patrick ran for a first down, but the broader point was that the Sea­hawks were pro­tect­ing the end zone at all costs Sun­day.

“So that's an im­prove­ment,'' Car­roll said.

When it came to Wil­son, though, it was pretty much more of the same. True, he threw his first real in­ter­cep­tion of the sea­son on a pass to DK Met­calf in the end zone in the third quar­ter and took a sack on a fourth-down play late in the first half ( Wil­son said of the in­ter­cep­tion by Xavien Howard, “I thought it was go­ing to be a touch­down when I threw it. He made a good play on that one.'').

Oth­er­wise, this was an­other MVP-level per­for­mance, as he threw two more touch­down passes to tie Pey­ton Man­ning in 2013 for the most in the first four games in NFL his­tory (Man­ning fin­ished that sea­son with an NFL-record 55).

And his big­gest plays came at the most im­por­tant times. Af­ter Mi­ami cut the lead to 10-9 with 24 sec­onds to go in the half, Wil­son led a 75-yard drive in 21 sec­onds keyed by a play in which he scram­bled and hit Moore for 57 yards.

Then, af­ter the score­less third quar­ter — only the sec­ond for Seattle this year, the other com­ing in the sec­ond quar­ter at At­lanta — and the Mi­ami drive that cut it to 17-15 came the drive in which Wil­son also sud­denly had to be the play­caller.

“First play of the drive, it just went out and I couldn't hear any­thing,'' Wil­son said. “So I just started call­ing the plays on those.''

As Wil­son noted later, he has wide lat­i­tude to change plays on the field all the time, and dur­ing two-minute drills of­ten calls the plays at the line, so it's not an un­fa­mil­iar task.

Still, if there was a tense moment in the game, and the time when the Sea­hawks most needed things to be per­fect, that was it.

Wil­son got the drive go­ing with a first-down pass to Tyler Lock­ett for 9. Then, af­ter a Car­son run of 8 — on a day when Car­son shook off the knee in­jury of last week and get­ting the wind knocked out of him in the sec­ond quar­ter to give Seattle some tough yards Sun­day — Wil­son hit Lock­ett for 30.

Then came a 2-yard run by rookie DeeJay Dal­las, a pass for 9 yards to Dal­las and the touch­down in the back of the end zone to Moore, part of a fourth quar­ter in which Wil­son was 5 for 5 for 97 yards, one touch­down and a per­fect passer rating of 158.3.

Maybe Wil­son would al­ways have been able to seam­lessly sud­denly add on-field play-call­ing du­ties to all of his other roles.

But he ac­knowl­edged later that the ex­pe­ri­ence gained over the years helped.

“There was never any panic there,'' Wil­son said. “Def­i­nitely in Year 9 you know so much of the game, so much of what they are try­ing to do and what they are try­ing to dis­guise and all that stuff and just take advantage of the looks.''

Like al­most ev­ery­thing else he's done this sea­son, it was ap­par­ently just that easy.

 ?? JASEN VINLOVE/ USA TO­DAY ?? Sea­hawks run­ning back DeeJay Dal­las finds some room to make a big gain against the Dol­phins dur­ing the sec­ond half of Seattle's 31-23 win in Mi­ami on Sun­day.
JASEN VINLOVE/ USA TO­DAY Sea­hawks run­ning back DeeJay Dal­las finds some room to make a big gain against the Dol­phins dur­ing the sec­ond half of Seattle's 31-23 win in Mi­ami on Sun­day.

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