Facing third-and-10 near midfield, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass facing a Vikings defense that a year ago led the NFL in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert only 30 percent of their third downs.
Wilson stood in a clean pocket that easily held up to Minnesota's four-man rush, giving Jaron Brown time to run a good route, and Wilson then fired a strike to the open receiver for a 33-yard gain. That third-down conversion helped illustrate why the Seahawks came out of Sunday's preseason loss to Minnesota encouraged by what the No. 1 offense did in its preseason debut—several starters, including Wilson, were held out of the preseason opener against Denver—despite managing only a field goal on its two possessions.
On that play, and during the two possessions the starters were in the game, Wilson was sharp, his receivers got open, pass protection was great, and the Seahawks showed the ability to move the ball in big chunks of yardage. No, it wasn't perfect, hence only 3 points in two possessions. Wilson just missed connecting with Brown on one third-down and Chris Carson on another, ending both drives short of the end zone, and penalties also helped stall both drives, but for a first time out, facing a good defense on the road, there was plenty to like about what the offense did Sunday.
"I thought the first unit did a nice job," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We did a nice job with tempo. Russell Wilson was moving pretty well. Missed a couple third down throws that would have made a big difference in their outing, but they did move the football well. First line protected well, did all the things we hoped to do just getting started. This is the first outing for those guys. That was a positive."
Despite missing Carson on a third-down throw that led to a field goal, Wilson was sharp for the most part, completing 6 of 9 attempts for 82 yards, including three explosive gains, the aforementioned 33-yarder to Brown, a 19-yarder to Brown and a 16-yarder to Tyler Lockett, who also added a very impressive toe-tapping catch on the sideline to gain 6 yards on third-and-5. In all, Seattle's No. 1 offense, moved the ball well, with Carson adding 25 rushing yards on five carries, and the team gaining 116 yards on those two possessions.
"I thought the ones, I thought we did a really good job with tempo," Wilson said. "I thought we were in and out of the huddle, guys made plays. I thought we moved the ball down the field, they have a very good defense obviously, the Vikings. We made a lot of plays tonight. Tyler looked great tonight, JB looked great tonight, Chris made a few plays, offensive line protected pretty well, especially on the third-and-long that we hit down the field. A lot of great things. We could tighten up a few things. I could tighten up a few things. That's why we play the preseason, but I think we are going to be a great football team.
"I thought we did a really good job picking up a lot of those (blitzes). We checked out of some stuff because of their looks and what we were doing, and we got some great plays. I thought we did a really good job on offense. I missed the throw to Chris, I was a little out in front, if I hit him there, we're rolling there, he might score. So those are things we work on and fix, then we're right where we want to be."
As good as Wilson, Carson and Seattle's receivers looked in their limited playing time, what might have been most encouraging was the protection Wilson enjoyed while facing a defense that was tied for third in the NFL last season with 50 sacks. The Seahawks led the NFL in rushing last year as the offensive line took a big step forward, and left tackle Duane Brown declared in the offseason that Seattle could have one of the best lines in the league in 2019, but Brown also acknowledged that for that to happen, that unit had to do a better job protecting Wilson. It was only two series in a preseason game, but the protection Wilson enjoyed in limited action Sunday can only be seen as a positive moving forward.
"It's awesome," Brown said of keeping Wilson clean. "They've got a very good front, especially playing in this environment, it's loud, they're getting off the football well. You see what he can do when he's kept upright—he can make plays, the receivers are getting open, we're converting on third downs, things like that. So it was a very encouraging couple of drives. If we can eliminate our penalties, we're talking 14 points on the board."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' second preseason game of 2019 against the Minnesota Vikings.