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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the first four games of his rookie season, Russell Wilson already was developing a reputation as a homebody.
In the Seahawks’ two home games – wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers – Wilson had a passer rating of 105.8, as he completed 25 of 41 passes for 281 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions.
In the Seahawks’ two road games – losses to the Cardinals and Rams in Arizona and St. Louis – his passer rating was 51.0, as Wilson completed 35 of 59 passes for 313 yards with one TD pass and four interceptions.
“He hadn’t realized, truly, and faced it, ‘Well, I haven’t produced as well on the road,’ ” Carroll said. “It was a conversation during the week leading into this game that I know we had. I said, ‘You realize your numbers are way different when you’ve been at home and on the road?’ You guys (reporters) were writing about it, but he wasn’t paying attention.
“He finally came up and said, ‘I don’t want that to happen anymore.’ Just like he’s changed so many things, he just played like the QB he was at home. And really from that part of the season on, he was very, very good, and realized that it isn’t any different playing on the road than playing at home for him.”
As Wilson is fond of saying, “A hundred yards is a hundred yards.”
But the real proof of improvement, as Wilson views it, was the offense converting a then-season best 7 of 14 third-down situations.
“I think the biggest thing was just being aware of situations a little bit more,” Wilson said. “Being great on third down, I think that’s the biggest focus that we had going into the game. We were a lot better on third down that game.”
A lot better, after producing third-down conversion percentages of .313 against the Rams (5 of 16); .357 against the Cowboys (5 of 14); .182 against the Packers (2 of 11); and .222 against the Rams (2 of 9).
“We overcame a lot of challenges,” said Wilson, who was 9 of 10 for 73 yards on third downs against the Panthers – including a third-and-8 pass to Golden Tate for the Seahawks’ only touchdown.
“I think that’s the biggest thing. We have to play great on third downs.”
So where did that game rank in the maturing of the rookie quarterback into a productive NFL quarterback?
Carroll would never put the entire burden on one player, and that is the case with what could be considered Wilson’s turning-point performance here last season.
“Most of that has to do with the entire team and how we played,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t just the quarterback. But I know that he acknowledged the fact that his (road) numbers didn’t matchup to what he had done at home.”
As is usually the case with Wilson, he did more than acknowledge it. He went out and did something about it.
“He just kind of turned it and got going and got us on the move in the second half of the season,” Carroll said.