JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Once again, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks showed grit and belief that the quarterback said may be the most he’s seen on any team--and the quarterback set an NFL record while doing it.
Once again, they also showed a dreadful first half.
That ended up costing them in Seattle’s 30-24 loss at Jacksonville on Sunday.
It was 27-10 Jacksonville with 10 minutes left when Seattle’s typical late rally began. Wilson escaped a sack by ducking his head, stood up and fired a strike to streaking Paul Richardson deep down the middle--part of Wilson’s day-long challenging of the NFL’s best pass defense deep. Richardson juked the last Jaguar between him and the goal line, safety Tashaun Gipson, to finish a 61-yard touchdown pass. Seattle was within 27-17 with 9:48 remaining.
”I mean, Paul Richardson got open quick,” Wilson said.
With that pass to Richardson, Wilson set an NFL record with his 16th touchdown pass in the fourth quarter this season. Then he added a 17th, to Tyler Lockett whom Jacksonville left alone a simple sprint down the seam, to get Seattle within 30-24 inside the final 4 minutes.
Seattle outscored the Jaguars 14-6 in Sunday’s fourth quarter. That was six points too few--thanks to their scoreless first half--but the Seahawks have a scoring edge in the fourth quarter over foes this season of 125-59.
“Shoot, man, we should have won,” Wilson said. “I felt like we should have won.
“The great thing is the belief. I’ve played on a lot of great teams and been around some great athletes, great players and everything else. The mentality in the sense of guys believing, no matter what the circumstances are. We have been in tough situations all year. We’ve had a lot of guys injured, a bunch of different scenarios, a lot of things have happened. But we continue to believe.
“You have to give the Jags credit. They did a great job tonight. They made a couple more plays than we did tonight, that’s for sure. We wish we could have done better. But the reality is the belief. I was talking to some of the players and coaches. If you don’t believe by now that we can do anything and everything that we want to do, I don’t know how you can’t.
"I think there’s a lot of things to it. Sense of urgency. I think there’s a determination. I think there’s a competitor’s side," Wilson said. "This is the reality of the situation. This is the truth. We’re down. Let’s find a way to keep coming back.
"Next thing you know, we’re in the game. They’re terrified for a second there. We just got to be a little more precise there at the end."
Wilson also threw three interceptions, two he just chucked up deep into the secondary of the NFL’s top scoring defense.
Wilson’s second interception came early in the third quarter while trying to reach Jimmy Graham near midfield. That and the frustrated Graham’s extra push of A.J. Bouye after the Jaguars cornerback’s interception set up the game’s first touchdown.
Bortles threw 18 yards to Dede Westbrook behind Terence Garvin, on one of his first plays replacing injured Bobby Wagner. The Jaguars led 10-0.
Seattle answered with 10 points in a minute. Doug Baldwin’s first catch, for 43 yards tumbling near the left sideline, set up Blair Walsh’s 28-yard field goal. On the ensuing kickoff Garvin forced a fumble that rookie safety Tedric Thompson recovered at the Jacksonville 25. Two plays later, Wilson’s pass to Baldwin for 26 yards tied the game.
Then on the next scrimmage play, Bortles again had tons of time on a play-action pass. Bortles threw a dart to streaking rookie Keelan Cole, who ran behind Wright. Rookie right cornerback Shaquill Griffin followed a route inside and Cole sprinted behind him. The 75-yard touchdown made it 17-10 Jacksonville.
The Seahawks then went three and out, allowing the game’s first sack on third down. Jon Ryan punted to former University of Washington wide receiver Jaydon Mickens. Mickens sprinted 72 yards past stumbling Justin Coleman, diving snapper Tyler Ott and Ryan to the 2-yard line. Leonard Fournette ran for the touchdown on the next play, then started a bowling celebration with teammates in the end zone. Seattle was suddenly gutter-balling a 24-10 game.
And then they rallied.
Now about that first half...
The Seahawks trailed 3-0 after yet another first half of mostly nothing on offense.
Wilson was 9 for 15 passing for just 36 yards and an interception. Midway through the second quarter with no score, Wilson had two receivers on deep post routes: tight end Jimmy Graham inside and Baldwin outside. The Jaguars safety went to Graham, so Wilson went to Baldwin. Problem was, Jacksonville’s best cover man Jalen Ramsey was one on one outside right with Baldwin. Ramsey made a deft move around the back of Baldwin to in front of him before Wilson’s pass arrived in the end zone. Baldwin appeared to be trying to draw contact and a possible interference penalty but tripped over his own feet as Ramsey made an easy interception.
Wilson threw another interception deep to Baldwin near the goal line on the opposite side in the third quarter. That was another 50-50 ball that cornerback A.J. Bouye got to before Baldwin did. Earlier in the third quarter, Bouye intercepted Wilson’s pass sideline left to Graham, cutting in front of the tight end near midfield and showing why many see Jacksonville’s cornerbacks as the league’s best.
“We kind of got backed up there (and) we needed something. We needed some type of explosive play,” Wilson said. “We had some explosive plays and they would get called back. We had a ball to Doug Baldwin where he was going down the field and got pass interference but that got called back (by holding on right tackle Germain Ifedi, his league-leading 14th flag accepted this season).
“You have to live a little bit with no fear. You have to take your chances every once in a while. You’ve got great receivers. I believe they are going to make the plays ten times out of 10. It didn’t happen tonight, but next time it will.”
Yet the Seahawks got into position to tie the game just before halftime because--of all things--effective runs by a running back. Mike Davis ran the first four plays of a drive late in the second quarter for 49 yards, to get Seattle from its own 21-yard line to the Jacksonville 30. Three of those runs for 44 yards were to the left side, behind tackle Duane Brown and guard Luke Joeckel, with one decisive kick-out block by Justin Britt on Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Seahawks then mostly played for the tying field goal, letting the clock run down to 27 seconds then coming up short of the first down on Wilson scramble on third down and flip pass to J.D. McKissic.
Walsh jogged onto the field for a 38-yard field goal to tie the game. Lined up on the right hash mark, Walsh kicked the ball basically straight--and just wide right of the right upright, no good. Seattle went to the half still down 3-0 instead of tied.
Walsh began his Seahawks debut season 12 for 13 on field goals. He was 7 for 13 since that point following that miss.
Asked if that’s concerning, Carroll said: "It’s not any longer. That’s already passed. We’ll go on to the next game. Here we go."