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Learning some tough lessons
In the whirl of activity that was the Seahawks’ cramped and crowded locker room at Candlestick Park on Thursday night, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson sat in one corner locked in a quiet conversation.
The Seahawks had just dropped one of those tough-to-swallow, even-harder-to-explain decisions – 13-6 to the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers. Wilson, the rookie quarterback, had followed the best performance of his still-young NFL career in Sunday’s victory over the New England Patriots with his toughest in the loss to the 49ers. Carroll, the coach who selected Wilson to be the starter over free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn, was consoling, encouraging and also challenging the rookie.
“We just talked about staying positive,” Wilson said several minutes later. “I’m a guy that’s going to make sure that we fix it. We’re going to fix it, I believe that for sure. So we’ve just got to stay positive and keep working.
“We just talked about the game just in general. What we can try to do next time. What we can learn from it.”
And Wilson is learning a very tough lesson: It is extremely difficult to win on the road, especially when the quarterback doesn’t play well.
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Dorothy and her ruby slippers have nothing on the Seahawks. They’re 3-0 at CenturyLink Field this season, including victories over the Packers and Patriots. They’re 1-3 on the road, including losses to each of their NFC West rivals. Here’s a statistical look at the disparity:
The Seahawks are 3-0 at CenturyLink Field this season, with Wilson throwing six touchdown passes and no interceptions – highlighted by his 16-of-26, 293-yard, three-TD performance against the Patriots on Sunday. The Seahawks are now 1-3 on the road, with Wilson throwing two TD passes and seven interceptions – lowlighted by his 9-of-23, 122-yard, one-pick effort against the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense as the Seahawks failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season.
The gap between Wilson’s play in this five-day span was even greater than that in his passer ratings – 133.7 against the Patriots; 38.7 against the 49ers.
“Nine-of-23 is not enough for us. We’ve got to do better than that,” said Carroll, who also acknowledged that four of Wilson’s receivers dropped at least four passes – plays that, if made, would have altered the outcome of the game.
Despite all this disparity, and the fact that they’ve lost to each of their division rivals on the road, the Seahawks remain very much in the NFC West race. The 49ers improved to 5-2 to take sole possession of first on Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals are 4-2 entering Sunday’s game against the Vikings in Minnesota. The Seahawks are 4-3.
But following their Oct. 28 game against the Lions in Detroit – which completes a stretch where the Seahawks will have played four road games in five weeks – the schedule flips. They will play five of their eight games in the second half of the season at home, including rematches with the Cardinals (Dec. 9), 49ers (Dec. 23) and Rams (Dec. 30).
And the second half of their season opens with back-to-back home games – Nov. 4 against the Vikings and Nov. 11 against the New York Jets – followed by their bye week.
So it’s no time for the rookie QB to get down, or for his coach and teammates to get down on him.
“He is an amazing kid – unbelievable character, drive, work ethic and a discipline about him that we now know,” Carroll told the NFL Network in an interview that aired before the nationally televised game. “He is a baller. We felt like we were doing the right thing (in going with Wilson over Flynn), and if it wasn’t we could fix it.
“Russell has to keep going and keep pushing to play well to keep his job because he has a really good player right behind him.”
And Wilson says he will do just that.
“The way we lost is frustrating,” he said. “We could have done some things better; I could have definitely done some things better. You’ve got to move on. You’ve got to focus on what we can control now.
“That’s just continue to work at what we need to work on, and just stay positive and keep believing in what we do.”