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Russell Wilson & Passing Game "In Great Command" In Seahawks' Win at Atlanta

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and the rest of the offense got off to a great start in Sunday’s season-opening win at Atlanta. 

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) calls an audible at the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) calls an audible at the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

After the Falcons defense made a nice play to stop Travis Homer for a 2-yard loss, Russell Wilson wasn't sure at first if the offense would stay on the field or if the Seahawks would attempt a long field goal. 

Seeing the way the Falcons defense was celebrating, Wilson and the offense wanted more than three points. 

"They made a good stop on third down and they're all celebrating, so we kind of just looked at the sideline, and I was like, 'OK, let's go after them,'" Wilson said. 

And boy did the Seahawks go after them. Not only did the Seahawks go for it, Wilson and the offense instantly ended any positive feelings the Falcons defense was having in a hurry, with Wilson going deep to DK Metcalf on fourth-and-5 to give the Seahawks some breathing room in what at that point was still a close game.

That touchdown was part of a big third quarter that saw the Seahawks take control of an eventual 38-25 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, giving them a 1-0 start to the season and on the road a year after they went 7-1 away from home in 2019.

"We wanted to be aggressive in that approach right there," Wilson said. "We were going to send the kicking team out, I think (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) and I were on the same page, and we went for it, and sure enough, DK makes a great play, slips by him, runs down the field and makes a great touchdown catch. That was great for us."

That touchdown, one of the four Wilson threw in the game, was the biggest highlight in what was a spectacular day for Wilson and the passing game. Wilson, who had more touchdowns that incomplete passes until midway through the fourth quarter, opened the game 7-for-7 on a touchdown drive that ended with a short pass to Chris Carson, and he finished the day 31 for 35 with 322 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, giving him a 143.1 passer rating. Wilson's 88.6 percent completion percentage was tied for the third-highest in league history for a passer with a minimum of 35 attempts. Sunday's game also saw Wilson surpass 30,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards, making him one of two quarterbacks in NFL history, along with Steve Young, to reach both of those benchmarks.

The fact that Wilson attempted 35 passes while Seattle's running backs combined for 16 carries isn't a sign that the Seahawks have suddenly become a pass-first team that no longer value balance, but it did show that they recognize one of their biggest strengths—one of the game's best quarterbacks—and how well he and the passing game were functioning in the leadup to the regular season. 

"What we've been doing in practice showed up," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Russ has been extraordinary all camp. He had a great summer throwing the ball to everybody and he had perhaps his best throwing day, numbers wise, just about as you could have. He was in great command of the game. 

Carroll wasn't going to go as far as to declare the volume of passing we saw Sunday as the team's new normal—and even if that was the plan, there's no reason to admit it after one week—but he did say it was a case of playing to the strengths they've seen so far this year. 

"It's just a sign of how we've worked in this off-season," Carroll said. "It's really the way we've been practicing, and Russ was in total command of the game and had a beautiful game. But there's so many things that factor in on that, it's Schotty making the calls, it's all the preparation to get there, it's the guys coming through with their plays and all that, Russ will be the first to tell you. But it is a statement, though, off the off-season. This whole Zoom season, our guys did a marvelous job. Russ was extremely involved, integrally involved with all of that, and it just showed. It showed. We were together and tight and functioning well. I don't know what we did on third down, I don't know if it was any good, but we just were able to move the ball, even when we were backed up with penalty situations or sacks, we came back and converted. That's confidence and belief. These guys, first game, they have earned their way right here. They have earned their way to play like that by the way they practiced."

As Carroll alluded to in that quote, it wasn't a perfect game for the offense. Wilson was sacked three times, including on Seattle's first play from scrimmage, and there were five offensive penalties, two holds and three false starts, two of which came on consecutive plays. But the offense putting up 38 points in its opener, after an abbreviated offseason and no preseason games, was definitely a very good way to start. 

"I thought guys were dialed in, they were tuned into the situational football, we were on it," Wilson said. "All the different words and languages, and all the different things that we're doing when we're super advanced in how we're doing things. We're going to be a tough football team to beat. I'm excited about it. We can score a lot of points and we've got a lot of great players."

Wilson's big performance saw him complete passes to nine different players, including Metcalf, who had 95 yards on just four catches, Chris Carson, who scored two touchdowns on six catches, and new tight end Greg Olsen, who had four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. And of course, Tyler Lockett was leading the way, as usual, with eight catches for 92 yards, just another big game for one of the league's more underrated receivers. 

"Tyler is one of the most consistent players in the NFL," Wilson said. "He's one of the most explosive players in the NFL even though he's a smaller guy—he gets open all day. His ability, his feel for the game, his intelligence his awareness, his ability to get open in a blink of an eye.. He's Mr. Dependable in so many ways. I love how he approaches the game. There's nobody who approaches the game better than he does. He needs to get more recognition honestly for what he's doing. I mean, he's been unstoppable for the past I don't know how many years. He's been unstoppable. I think he's one of the best receivers in the game, hands down."

Players on the other side of the ball, who made plenty of big plays themselves in a game that saw the Seahawks thrive in all three phases, enjoyed watching Wilson and offense perform, even if seeing a quarterback play to that level was somewhat foreign to newcomer Jamal Adams.

"I'm not used to it," Adams said with a chuckle. "It's exciting. It's exciting to know when we do come off the field, we can definitely make our adjustments, catch a breather. For Russ to go out there and do what he's always done, I'm just happy to be a part of this organization, man. These guys are telling me they're happy I'm here, but I'm really happy I'm here, man. I just see so much talent, so much great success coming our way as long we continue to keep our head down and continue to strive."

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