Through their first three, real games together, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham have established a go-to phrase around the locker room and field.
As in, it “don’t matter” how covered the 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end who has run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash is.
The saying between quarterback and new, primary downfield threat signifies how much Wilson is still getting accustomed to disregarding his habit of avoiding risky throws into traffic. It defies coach Pete Carroll’s demand to Wilson to protect the football at all costs, at all times.
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Sunday in Seattle’s 26-0 smashing of the Chicago Bears, Wilson threw the ball to Graham eight times. He’d targeted Graham 10 times total in the first two games.
The result: Seven connections, 83 yards, the offense’s only touchdown. It was Graham’s most production in 11 games, dating to last Nov. 9 when he had 10 catches from Drew Brees for New Orleans against San Francisco.
“He brings a certain energy to the game, too, which is cool to play with,” Wilson said.
So ended a game week that began with two national reports surmising and then flat-out stating Graham was ticked off with how the Seahawks were using him through two games. That included his one catch in the previous weekend’s loss at Green Bay.
“I didn’t know I was frustrated last week,” Graham said, fully available in the locker room after a game for the first time this season. “But just to clarify things: I’m not frustrated at all. Because we won. And that’s all I really care about.”
His touchdown catch was 30 yards over the middle in man coverage against badly beaten safety Brock Vereen, on one of the relatively few times the offensive line gave Wilson enough time to look down the field Sunday.
“I’m one on one,” Graham said, “so I just get open.”
Graham stepped through Vereen’s attempt at an ankle tackle around the 12-yard line. Then he bulled through Chicago’s Adrian Amos and Kyle Fuller at the goal line
Seattle’s prized acquisition in March from New Orleans, the NFL’s leading pass-catching tight end since 2011, has six, one and seven catches in his first three Seahawks games, respectively.
So were these plays designed specifically to get the ball to Graham more?
“They were no different,” Wilson said. “The game plan is to throw the ball to the right guy at the right time.
“Obviously he’s a spectacular player. He showed up a lot (Sunday). That was a lot of fun.”
The Seahawks appeared to catch a big break in the second quarter to keep their then 3-0 lead.
One of Chicago’s 10 punts by Pat O’Donnell appeared to strike Seattle special-teams player Brock Coyle on the back or side of his leg. Either that, or the ball was one of the only ones in football history to take a 90-degree turn to the right upon hitting the turf.
The Bears downed the ball, then challenged the on-field call that the Seahawks didn’t touch it for a recovered fumble.
Referee Carl Cheffers determined the replay review from CBS television’s A-crew broadcast didn’t offer conclusive evidence. So the call stood as a downed punt instead of Chicago ball at the Seahawks 13.
Coyle went Sergeant Schultz about the play after the game.
“I was just focused on blocking my guy. That is my job on that play,” he said. “I didn’t see the ball. My job is to block that guy.
Coach Pete Carroll had a reason he liked rookie Tyler Lockett’s team-record, 105-yard kickoff return that put Seattle up 13-0 seconds into the third quarter better than the 103-yard one Lockett had in the exhibition opener against Denver last month.
“I thought it was really good,” Carroll said, “because I saw the whole thing.”
The coach plowed through a sideline official from his exuberance over Lockett’s preseason score, and got penalized for it.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane left after two defensive drives with a groin injury and did not return. Carroll said he didn’t immediately know the severity of the injury “but he did have an issue with it, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Jordan Hill replaced Mebane and finished with four tackles, two for losses.
The 30-year-old Mebane missed the final months of last season with a torn hamstring.
The Seahawks honored past players from their 40 years on the field at halftime, the result of a fan vote for an all-time Seattle team.
Those introduced to cheers included Tacoma native Marcus Trufant, Steve Largent, Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, Kenny Easley, Jim Zorn, Curt Warner, Chris Warren, Ricky Watters, Steve Raible, Dave Wyman, Robbie Tobeck, Dave Krieg, Dan Doornink, John L. Williams, Paul Moyer, Manu Tuiasosopo, Rufus Porter, Joe Nash, Jordan Babineaux and Sam Adams.
The Seahawks listed as unable to attend: Michael Sinclair, Sherman Smith, Mike Tice and Lofa Tatupu.
Tatupu and Smith had a good excuse; they were in the team’s locker room at halftime as its linebackers and running back coaches, respectively.
Seahawks DE Michael Bennett on beating his brother, Bears TE Martellus, in their four regular-season meeting: “Big brother always wins. Just like the government.” Michael had four tackles, one for lost yardage, and a quarterback hit. Martellus led Chicago with four catches on five targets from fill-in QB Jimmy Clausen, for 15 yards. … Lockett broke Leon Washington’s record of 101 yards returning a kickoff on Sept. 26, 2010, against San Diego. … Second TE Luke Willson was inactive because of back spasms. Carroll said Willson “could have played.” Cooper Helfet moved up to No. 2 and reserve fullback Will Tukuafu also played tight end. … Rookie DE Frank Clark got about double the snaps, up from the 15-20 range from the first two games. Many snaps were inside at tackle on early downs with DT Ahtyba Rubin outside at end in a new look.