Doug Baldwin had one-on-one coverage in the red zone, Russell Wilson recognized it, and after a textbook route by Baldwin and a perfect throw from Wilson, it was touchdown Seahawks.
Baldwin burning a defensive back, Wilson hitting him for an easy touchdown. It's something that has become so routine over the years, but in what has been a frustrating, injury-plagued season for Baldwin, it was also the first touchdown of 2018 for the Pro-Bowl receiver.
And after Baldwin made easy work of Packers rookie Josh Jackson to secure a touchdown, he ran to the other corner of the end zone where he and fellow receivers Tyler Lockett, David Moore and Jaron Brown, along with tight end Nick Vannett, went surfing in CenturyLink Field’s south end zone. It was a moment of pure joy in a season that has been tougher than most for Baldwin.
“Getting that touchdown, yes it made me ecstatic to be able to celebrate with my teammates,” Baldwin said following the Seahawks’ 27-24 victory over the Packers. “We got to do another touchdown celebration. That’s really what it comes down to.”
That Baldwin is feeling as healthy as he has all year and had a season-high seven catches and his first touchdown against the Packers bodes well for the Seahawks down the stretch. That seven catches in Week 11 was a season high also illustrates what a tough year this has been for Baldwin, who over the previous three seasons had 247 catches for 3,188 and 29 touchdowns.
“It has been frustrating for him,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Just being the dedicated competitor that he is, it’s been hard to have to even gauge how he can prepare. He’s always just gone for it and that’s all that he’s ever known, but he’s had both knees bothering him with different things that he’s getting through and he hurt his elbow too and a little groin thing going, so he’s had stuff kind of nagging at him, but he’s back and this is the best he’s felt all year and he came out of the game feeling good too so that’s great with little break (over the weekend). He’ll hit this next week really going. I’ve just watched him—we’ve had to talk about it and deal with some gauging the days and ‘where can we work?’ or ‘where can we hold back?’ so that he can be strong for the weekend. Never ever talked like that before. We’d like to put that behind him. I know he wants to battle and he doesn’t want to miss anything.”
As Carroll outlined, Baldwin has dealt with a number of injuries this season, dating back to the summer when he missed almost all of training camp and the preseason with a knee injury. Baldwin made it back for the season opener, only to sprain his MCL in his other knee when a Broncos player fell into him while he was run-blocking. Baldwin missed only two games, but has battled through knee soreness, as well as groin and elbow injuries that haven’t kept him out of games, but have kept him from being at his very best.
Asked how this season has been so far, Baldwin bluntly stated, “It’s been hell,” before turning a bit more philosophical. “I’ve never had this many injuries before, so it’s been a journey, that’s for sure. But it has been a journey that I have come to appreciate, because it has taught me a lot about myself, not only as a football player, but as a man in how I handle these challenges. So I’m proud of myself in some ways, I would go back and handle some things differently, but for the most part, I’m trying to utilize this journey for the development of my character as a man.”
Baldwin, who on Thursday moved into third place on the team’s all-time reception list with 473, passing John L. Williams, says he started to feel pain free—or at least as pain free as an eighth-year NFL veteran can feel—last week when the Seahawks played in L.A.
“It feels better than it has the last four months,” Baldwin said of the initial knee injury that dates back to the summer. “… The Rams game was actually the first game where I felt a little free, my knee wasn’t holding me back at all in terms of pain, and today was another step in terms of that process.”
And if Baldwin is starting to feel like his old self, that could give a big boost to Seattle’s offense down the stretch.
“He’s a really good player, obviously, and has a big factor to playing in our push down to the end of the season," Carroll said. “We need him going… It’s really important for us that he is a legit threat for our opponents, because he can do a lot of stuff and do a lot of damage, and Russ loves throwing to him.”
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 27-24 win against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season.