RENTON, Wash. – The distances the Seattle Seahawks offense needed to cover late in regulation and then again in overtime left plenty of opportunity, as coach Pete Carroll put it, to “really screw it up.”
Not with Russell Wilson at the controls. Not with the way this rookie is playing.
“There’s really nothing to hold us back with what we can do and ask the quarterback to do with the system and all of that now. He can really handle the package,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to benefit from that.”
With two drives on Sunday – one at the end of regulation and the other in overtime – Wilson kept the Seahawks firmly in control of the final playoff spot in the NFC with a 23-17 overtime win over Chicago. He led Seattle to touchdowns the final two times it had the ball.
And they weren’t short drives. Seattle went 97 yards on its final possession of regulation to take the lead, then another 80 yards in overtime to pull out the victory. Wilson accounted for 56 of Seattle’s 80 yards on its overtime drive, including 28 yards rushing. Three times he converted third downs and capped Seattle’s victory by hitting Sidney Rice on a 13-yard TD.
Combined over Seattle’s final two possessions, the first of which was capped by Golden Tate sliding off tacklers for a 14-yard TD with 24 seconds left in regulation, Wilson accounted for 115 yards passing and 47 yards rushing.
His 71 total yards rushing turned out to be the most in Seahawks history for a quarterback. Most of those running yards came on designed zone-read plays where Wilson would fake the handoff to Marshawn Lynch, then dash around end for gains that gashed the Bears defense.
“He just has a tremendous level of awareness and poise and it’s just surprising that anybody could be like that, not just a rookie or a young guy in his first shot playing in Chicago or what not,” Carroll said. “He just continues to be impressive in all of those ways.”
Closing out games has lingered as a significant problem for Seattle on the road. And lately because of the defense.
It started in Detroit, when the Lions scored with 20 seconds left after driving 80 yards to pull out a 28-24 win. Last week in Miami, the Seahawks gave up 17 fourth-quarter points and Dan Carpenter’s field goal on the final play gave the Dolphins a 24-21 win.
And on Sunday, the Seahawks defense again let down when Jay Cutler scrambled free from pressure to find Brandon Marshall for 56 yards, setting up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime. Carroll said when Cutler scrambled, Seattle’s secondary briefly lost contain on Marshall and allowed him to come back to the ball and make the play.
For all the excitement about the victory, there are injury concerns going forward.
Receiver Sidney Rice was hammered on the game-winning touchdown at the goal line. He tweeted Sunday night that he was cleared by doctors but Carroll said Rice was going through concussion protocols in part because of his history with head injuries.