GLENDALE (Ariz.) — Russell Wilson jumped up from the State Farm Stadium turf after taking a hard hit from All-Pro safety Budda Baker as he dived across to the goal line. Wilson’s 4 yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s season finale broke the tie with Arizona Cardinals at 24-24. The Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback was as excited as you will ever see.
He hugged his teammates and raised his arms in celebration. He ran to the sideline and tore off his helmet. He then slapped Pete Carroll with his hands, not caring about his injured right middle finger. He shouted through his neon-green mouth guard.
Rarely do you see Wilson so emotional, despite his stoic nature. Hawkschronicle posted on TwitterYou can’t help but wonder whether it was the cathartic release from a long season of frustration.
Carroll stated, “The run on goal line, holy cow.” “He was up against one the most skilled tacklers in NFL and he was swashbuckling at the end zone.”
While it might not have been Carroll’s intention, this was clearly the way he wanted his offense, quarterback and team to finish. The organization will be making some important decisions this offseason. It didn’t have enough impact, but it was a little relief after a disappointing season.
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The Seahawks’ victory over the playoff-bound Cardinals, 38-30, caps a 4-2 season after a 3-8 start that may have prompted some teams to reconsider. The Seahawks scored 89 points in their last two games and finally achieved the offensive efficiency that was so difficult under Shane Waldron, their first-year coordinator. Wilson looked more like himself than his version after finger surgery in the middle of the season.
Wilson had eight touchdowns and two interceptions in victories over the Cardinals (Detroit Lions) and Arizona Cardinals (both of which were against Arizona). Although his interception on a throw-off dump-off and lost fumble were serious mistakes, they weren’t the same glaring misfires to open receivers which plagued him. They suggested that he was still suffering from the effects of his finger injury.
Wilson was 29th in Total QBR (23.6) over the first three weeks, Weeks 10-12. From Weeks 13-16, he was 13th in Total QBR (23.6) and the first in Weeks 87.9 for the final two games.
Although this improvement wasn’t enough to propel the Seahawks into playoff contention, it does give them evidence that Wilson is capable of returning to his elite level. This information could be valuable if the quarterback and organization find themselves back at the same crossroads last offseason.
Carroll stated, “I thought he was at his peak in the last few weeks.” It is important to acknowledge that. I know he will feel better each day and forget about the surgery. However, it will just be a step further and it won’t be as significant. “I was so excited to see the final result.”
The 89 combined points the Seahawks scored against Detroit and Arizona were the most of any NFL team in a two-game span this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This is the third-most points in a two game span in franchise history. The other two were scored during a three-week period in Wilson’s rookie season 2012.
It would have been nice if they had been as consistent on third down the first 16 week (dead last at 33.7%) as they were the final two weeks (second at 62.5%). The continued surge of Rashaad Peny and Wilson’s improved play made Seattle’s offense a formidable force. Penny ran for a record-breaking 190 yards Sunday. This was the culmination of a five-game streak in which he led all NFL players with 671 yards.
The Seahawks’ third down problem before Week 17 was particularly troubling considering that they were amongst the most successful in terms of offensive EPA and yards per play over first and second.
“The biggest thing was if we can get the third downs, you’ll be able to see how great this offense could really be,” said receiver Tyler Lockett, who caught two of Wilson’s TD passes Sunday. “The thing that has always been a problem with us this year is we couldn’t get third downs. It was difficult for us to stay on field.”
Two of the Seahawks’ four last wins were victories over the Houston Texans, and the Houston Lions. The other two were victories over the playoff-bound San Francisco 49ers. There was no realistic chance that the Seahawks would make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season in their past 10 seasons.
Duane Brown, a left tackle who moved from Houston to Seattle in 2017, said that Pete did a great job keeping the guys in it. “It can be a lot of times when you don’t know what’s going to happen and I’ve had seasons in which we lost 12 straight, and guys would just begin planning their vacations. It was not a common thing. He was very important in keeping guys involved, keeping them upbeat and in high spirits.
Carroll indicated that he hopes to be back by 2022. Wilson’s situation, even if that’s true, is the most questionable. This is despite a few factors like Carroll’s desire not to leave and a bad draft.
Wilson complained about his lack of control over personal decisions last offseason. However, Wilson did not offer any suggestions postgame when asked which moves he thought the team should make in order to be back in contention. He said, “That’s not my job to decide that stuff.”
When asked about his uncertain future, he laughed in amusement. Some of his comments had played into this. Wilson, who has a no-trade clause that allows him to stay in Seattle, has stated that he would like to, but has not declared that he will.
Wilson stated, “You guys keep asking the same question.” “I suspect that maybe you guys have an idea that I don’t. I think that the most important thing about this place is that it’s fun to be here. I love the city. I love everything about it. I love winning. We have to do everything necessary to ensure we are doing that. That’s why I believe that that’s the standard. I’ve got to do my part. It begins with me, then the other guys, and us all together, collectively, what we can do to make it better. It’s obvious that I love this city. That’s my hope.