EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The sarcasm in Doug Baldwin's voice was as obvious as Russell Wilson's stats were impressive.
Asked about his hobbled quarterback's big game, Baldwin began his answer with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
"He's really soft, you know?" Baldwin deadpanned. "He gets hurt, he doesn't want to play, I don't know what to say."
Moments later, on a more serious note, Baldwin said, "This is Russell Wilson. This is what he does."
And what Wilson did on Sunday was put together his best passing performance of the season while playing on a sprained knee and a sprained ankle. Wilson competed 23 of 32 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 133.5. Wilson led touchdown drives of 92 and 85 yards in a first half that was particularly dominant, and he didn't throw his second incomplete pass until Seattle's second possession of the third quarter. He now has 25 career games with multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions, the most by a player in NFL history in his first five seasons to begin a career.
"I thought it was just a sterling effort by the quarterback," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I know everybody was wondering and questioning what was going to happen, how he was going to be able to do it, and he just did it. This was the best he has looked in the last few weeks. He was confident, he played great, made great decisions and did everything we needed him to do today."
Perhaps as impressive as Wilson's play is the fact that he has yet to miss a practice, let alone a game, this season. He sustained a fairly significant ankle sprain in Seattle's season-opening win against Miami, then last week he sprained his knee against the 49ers, yet thanks to his toughness, both mentally and physically, and the work done by Seattle's trainers, Wilson has been able to not just get onto the field, but perform at a high level.
"He's only had one half where he didn't have something wrong (with him) this season," Carroll said. "I really don't know how to say enough about his mentality. He has a perfect mentality to endure whatever he needs to endure and he does it on the strength of his belief in himself, commitment to his teammates and just this marvelous will."
And now with the bye coming up, Wilson gets a chance to get healthier before Seattle's next game.
"What happens now is we get two weeks," Carroll said. "We get two weeks before we play again… He's going to be a lot better (after the bye). He wasn't 100 percent. He was good enough to play and confident enough to play and trainers and doctors all signed off on it. It's a marvelous job that he did."
Wilson never doubted he would play this week, and while he admits he wasn't quite as mobile as usual, he said, "I'm feeling great," after the game, in part because of an offensive line that held up very well against a talented Jets defensive front.
"I thought the offensive line did a phenomenal job," Wilson said. "They protected really well. They played physical. Guys were lights out catching the ball. You see the playmakers that we have and that makes it easier on me in terms of throwing the ball and getting the ball out on time and letting those guys be the true playmakers that they are. It was exciting to see. We saw a lot of guys make a lot of plays today."
Between Wilson's limited mobility, the line's ability to protect, and the receivers, tight ends and backs making some great catches, this was just the latest example of Wilson proving he is not just capable, but great while operating in the pocket. The book on Wilson early in his career was that he was a playmaker who could make things happen with his legs, but wasn't a traditional pocket-passer, and while his 2015 season should have completely erased that notion, that notion still hangs on in some football circles, though nobody in Seattle's locker room is buying it.
"All those guys that say he can't throw from the pocket don't know what they're talking about," Carroll said. "They don't know what they're talking about. And that's just something they must have said a long time ago and they're still defending, because he can throw it from anywhere. It doesn't matter. We can put him in the pocket, he can roll, he can play-action, he can do everything. Yes, of course he's improved. He's improved at everything. He had a big step-up throw—I think it was the one to Doug—just a great sense in the pocket and using the protection the way it needed to be used. He can do whatever we need him to do."
Added cornerback Richard Sherman: "I think sometimes people just don't watch the games anymore and just go off of what they heard, or what the past rhetoric was."
Wilson has always maintained that he prefers to play in the pocket, and only runs when necessary, but thanks to his injuries, Sunday was a chance to show just how dominant of a player he can be without being a dual-threat quarterback.
"I don't doubt my ability," Wilson said. "I think about staying in the pocket. I don't want to run. You got those big bears chasing you out there. I just want to throw the ball to the right guy at the right time and do whatever it takes. Coach (Darrell) Bevell called a great game tonight. You have to give him credit. Of all the plays that he called, from the passes and run calls, just a great mixture and different looks we presented to the defense. Coach Bevell was calling it lights out today."
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Look through some action photos from Week 4 vs the New York Jets at MetLife Field.