Monday, 12 September 2016

Russell Wilson's injury could require Seahawks to tweak offense

SEATTLE -- When Russell Wilson was on the sideline after suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 12-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins, he got a glimpse of what the future might look like.

"I was telling Coach [Pete] Carroll and some of the trainers, when I'm 43, 44, 45 years old and still playing, that's probably what I'll look like out there," Wilson said.

With 11:02 left in the third quarter, Wilson was sacked by Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who stepped on his right ankle and pinned it in an awkward position.

"I was actually really trying to go down, cut inside and go down," Wilson said. "Just a freak accident."

For most of the game, Wilson and the offense were ineffective. On their first 11 possessions, the Seahawks managed just two field goals. They tried to go to a quick passing game early to negate the Dolphins' pass rush, but the timing was off. Wilson missed some throws. The offensive line had issues in protection. And the receivers had some drops.

With 4:08 left in the game, the season opener was setting up to be a nightmare. The Seahawks were the biggest favorites of Week 1, and they were behind 10-6.

The team faced a critical 4th-and-4 with 2:08 left. Wilson found wide receiverDoug Baldwin for a 22-yard gain and ended up completing his final five passes for 49 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

"When it came to the defining moment of the game, he did what he did," said defensive end Michael Bennett. "And that’s what you do under pressure. That’s why it defines him as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, because the great ones play good under pressure. The bad ones, they get in their minds. He never got rattled."

Added Carroll, "It didn't even faze him, not even for an instant was he fazed about that. We just talked about what we could do, and he was fine with all that, and away we went."

The Seahawks admitted they had to call the game differently after the injury.

"We looked after him a little bit," Carroll said. "We weren't sure what he could do, and we didn't want to tax him too much. We kept him in the pocket more than normal, just to make sure that we didn't force him to go."

Asked how different it was for him to stay inside the pocket, Wilson said with a smile, "Last year I stayed in the pocket and just hung out there, and it worked out pretty well. I don't mind standing in the pocket. That's a good thing."

Wilson said he'll "be ready to roll" next week against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that beat the Seahawks twice last year. Assuming he plays, though, he very well could be less than 100 percent. And that will mean tweaking the offense to rely less on his athleticism and more on his arm.

Overall, Wilson went 27-for-43 for 258 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumble.

But in the end, he engineered the 19th game-winning drive of his career. And he did so on an injured ankle.

"I never thought he was coming out," said running back Thomas Rawls. "That’s Russell Wilson. He’s going to finish that game some type of way even if it’s on one leg. He’s going to finish."

SEATTLE -- Asked to describe the game-winning touchdown against the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin gave credit to his quarterback.

"That was not the play call," Baldwin said. "We had discussions before about what we were going to do if we had certain matchups that we liked, and it was actually not on that play.

"He just saw the situation that there was a matchup that he liked. He switched the play, and fortunately enough, Jermaine [Kearse] and myself were able to execute it at a high level. Russell did an excellent job of reading the defense and putting us in the best situation, making the call and then obviously delivering the ball so we could win the game."

Baldwin said the change is something Wilson might not have done in the past.

"[Wilson] has never changed the play to that play before," Baldwin said. "In that moment, I'm thinking, 'What is he doing?' But he has shown the propensity to do miraculous things, and that play was no different. He put us in the best possible situation. My hat's off to him. I have to give him a lot of credit because he wouldn't have done that in the past."

The Wilson-Baldwin connection was the one aspect of the Seahawks' offense that picked up where it left off in 2015. When targeting Baldwin, Wilson was 9-of-11 for 92 yards and a touchdown.

On all of his other passes, Wilson was 18-of-32 for 166 yards.

"It just looks like the same old Doug," coach Pete Carroll said. "Just doing his thing, getting open at the crucial times, making a great catch. How about the catch he made on the drive before the half? That was an incredible catch. He's just playing great football."

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