Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson made the most of his chance to earn the starting job, spearheading a dominating, 44-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday at Arrowhead Stadium.
With Seattle coach Pete Carroll handing over the keys to the first unit, Wilson was scintillating in his first NFL exhibition start, completing 13 of 19 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Wilson also was sacked twice but totaled 58 rushing yards, didn’t turn the ball over and finished with a 134.8 passer rating.
Asked if he made his case for the starting job by his performance against the Chiefs, the 5-foot-11 quarterback once again took the high road.
“I have to watch the film, obviously,” Wilson said. “I just try to do everything I can to be successful. I can’t control all of that. I know that we keep getting better as a football team, and that’s the exciting part.”
Wilson’s teammate, receiver Golden Tate, wasn’t so modest in talking about his quarterback.
“It’s exciting,” Tate said. “We’re confident because if the defense covers well or has the right play called, this guy can tuck it and run. And he’ll start running and then throw it still across his body and make a completion.
“He’s just a very, very special player. And I’m excited to see him grow.”
Making the quarterback competition even more intriguing is the fact free-agent signee Matt Flynn did not suit up because of a sore elbow. Flynn did not practice for two days leading up to the game but was thought to be ready to go against the Chiefs. After warming up, however, Flynn had too much pain in his arm and couldn’t go, Carroll said.
Carroll said he doesn’t know how serious Flynn’s injury is.
“Matt’s elbow just cropped up in the middle of the week, and surprised him and surprised us about the soreness,” Carroll said. “He couldn’t throw well enough to play today.”
With Flynn unavailable, incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson got his first playing time of the exhibition season in the final quarter.
With Wilson playing well, Flynn’s uncertain status and Jackson seeing limited snaps, Carroll said the he’ll need more time to sort out the quarterback situation.
“He’s just done everything we’ve asked of him,” Carroll said about Wilson. “When John (general manager John Schneider) was excited about drafting him and we got the momentum going to take that pick, this is the guy we’d hope he would be. And all of the talk about how tall he is and all that kind of stuff, I don’t see it being a factor. And I’ve watched more carefully than anybody could ever have watched.
“I don’t see it being an issue. And it isn’t to me. It’s not to our coaching staff and our players.”
So is it Wilson’s job to lose after this performance Pete?
“You can try that, but we’re going to go to next week and figure it out,” Carroll said. “I’ll let you know later.”
Seattle’s defense continued its ball-hawking performance during the exhibition schedule, forcing two Kansas City (1-2) turnovers, including a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Earl Thomas.
The Seahawks’ first-unit defense has scored as many touchdowns (2) as they have allowed in the preseason.
Seattle is 3-0 in exhibition play, and with a win over Oakland next week the Seahawks could finish undefeated for the exhibition schedule for the first time since 2009. Of course, Carroll might not want to follow in those footsteps – Jim Mora’s team finished with a 5-11 regular-season record that year.
Veteran receiver Terrell Owens got his first catch as a Seahawk, a 40-yard reception from Wilson against Kansas City defensive back Jacques Reeves.
Owens was targeted three times, finishing with two catches for 41 yards. He also had a drop negated by a personal foul penalty on Kansas City’s Tamba Hali for roughing the passer on a late hit on Wilson toward the end of the first half.
The Seahawks did not lose a beat with starting running back Marshawn Lynch sitting out with back spasms. Rookie Robert Turbin got his second start, and rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Receiver Tate added another explosive play, with a 92-yard touchdown on a punt return in the second half to close out the scoring for the Seahawks.
Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka made field goals from 36, 39 and 45 yards. But he also missed his first field goal of exhibition play, from 51 yards out.