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Monday metatarsal musings
Behold the evolution of the Seahawks’ offense.
In Sunday’s 50-17 Ohhhh-Canada romp over the Buffalo Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the Seahawks scored on their first five possessions and eight of their first nine – and yes, the Bills’ defense was on the field while all of this was going on.
The Seahawks rushed for 270 yards, and have averaged 243 rushing yards during their three-game winning streak that started with the overtime victory in Chicago against the Bears, continued with that 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field last week and then went international with Sunday’s victory against the Bills. The Washington Redskins lead the league in rushing offense and they’re averaging 164.8 yards.
Three of the four rushing touchdowns against the Bills came from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the other from Marshawn Lynch. They combined for 205 rushing yards, on only 19 carries – 10 for 113 by Lynch, for an 11.3-yard average; nine for 92 by Wilson, for a 10.2-yard average.
Last week, Tom Cable, the mastermind behind the zone-blocking running scheme, offered, “We can run the football, really, whenever we want to.” While that might sound like a brash statement from the Seahawks’ assistant head coach/offensive line coach, it turns out that Cable was just stating the facts.
Wilson’s growth in the offense has allowed the offense to grow, as coach Pete Carroll pointed out after Sunday’s game.
“I’m just thrilled that he’s been able to continue to grow,” Carroll said of Wilson, the QB that many thought – and too many even said – was too short to play in the NFL. “For a time, we were just trying to get the offense going and not screw it up and make sure he could keep growing.
“Well, we’re past that now.”
So far past, in fact, that Buzz Lightyear would be a good nickname for the kid QB, because Wilson’s sights are set to infinity and beyond.
As tight end Zach Miller said after the game, “Getting drafted in the third round, a lot of people (said), ‘Too short to be a quarterback.’ But, obviously not.”
One of the best things about Wilson is that he’s first to admit – no, stress – that he is not doing all of this all by himself.
“We’re definitely clicking,” he said after the game. “Guys are making tremendous plays out there. From the offensive line blocking extremely well for Marshawn Lynch and me, as well; and the tight ends making the catches and run-blocking the way they are; and the receivers making the explosive plays that they’re making.”
So on your way to heaping praise upon Wilson, be sure to save some for the offensive line – Russell Okung, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, the starters; as well as backups J.R. Sweezy, Frank Omiyale, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Rishaw Johnson, Mike Person and James Carpenter, who is on injured reserve. And the tight ends – Miller, Anthony McCoy and Evan Moore. And the wide receivers – Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. And, of course, Lynch, rookie backup Robert Turbin, change-of-pace back Leon Washington and fullback Michael Robinson.
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Bills and, well, as many things as we can scrounge up that need work as the surging Seahawks prepare for Sunday night’s nationally televised rematch with the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field:
The defense – After the Seahawks jumped to a 31-7 lead, the Bills scored 10 points in the final 70 seconds of the first half to make it 31-17. No worries. On the Bills’ first three possessions of the second half, linebacker K.J. Wright intercepted a pass to setup Lynch’s TD run; Leo end Chris Clemons had a fumble-forcing sack to setup a Steven Hauschka field goal; and free safety Earl Thomas returned an interception 57-yards for a TD.
Suddenly, and decisively, it was 47-17.
“The defense coming up with big turnovers and taking them to the house for touchdowns, that’s not easy to do,” Wilson said. “That’s key for us.”
Trick plays – Somewhere, Mike Holmgren was cringing on Sunday afternoon. The former Seahawks coach never met a gimmick play that he liked, or would call.
But against the Bills, the Carroll-coached Seahawks got a 44-yard completion to Tate on a play where Wilson pitched the ball to Lynch, who then threw the ball back to Wilson, who then passed it to Tate. Four plays later, Hauschka kicked the first of his three field goals.
Then, in the middle of a 17-play, 88-yard drive that consumed more than nine minutes of the fourth quarter, the snap on fourth-and-4 from Clint Gresham went not to punter Jon Ryan, but Chris Maragos. He handed the ball to Robinson, who ran for 29 yards.
Hauschka – The emphasis here in “what worked” is worked. Hauschka has been one busy kicker as the Seahawks have won 58-0 and 50-17 the past two weeks, becoming the first team since 1950 to score at least 50 points in back-to-back games. Sunday, he had 19 kicks – 10 kickoffs, six PATs (with one blocked) and three field goals. Against the Cardinals, it was 21 kicks – 11 kickoffs, seven PATs and three field goals.
Somebody reserve this guy a long stay in the nearest hot tub.
“Forty kicks in two weeks, that’s a lot,” Hauschka said with a laugh. “But everything is good. I’m making sure I get my rest.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The fourth and fifth options at cornerback – It’s not that rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year corner Byron Maxell didn’t play well while stepping in for Walter Thurmond, who was stepping in for Marcus Trufant, who never had the opportunity to step in Brandon Browner because of a hamstring injury. It’s that Lane and Maxwell need work, as much as they can get because it appears they could continue to share time on the right side and play as the nickel back.
Special teams penalties – Washington broke a punt return 86 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Bills. It was nullified, however, because Maxwell was penalized for an illegal block (which was declined) and just re-signed cornerback Ron Parker also was penalized for an illegal block (which was accepted).
Not that the Seahawks needed the points from what would have been Washington’s first punt return for a score against the Bills. But that might not be the case on Sunday night against the 49ers or in the Dec. 30 finale against the St. Louis Rams. And the Seahawks need to win those games to ensure there will be a postseason to this season.