Taking off from Baltimore before dawn for the trip home, hours ahead of the Seahawks' departure time from D.C. The team is due back in Seattle this afternoon. Join me for our News Tribune day-after Seahawks chat at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time today.
No matter how bad the offensive line continues to be, no matter how many penalties the linemen and the rest of the offense commits, no matter how many times he has to run for his well-being if not his life, Russell Wilson continues to save the Seahawks.
The third-year -- is this really only his third year? -- quarterback's latest salvage job came last night here at Washington.
"Phenomenal," is what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called him after the 27-17 win.
He called him that twice.
Think about what record the Seahawks might have without Wilson right now -- 1-3 maybe? They wouldn't have beaten Denver in overtime without him taking the game into his own hands and legs on the overtime drive to the touchdown. And they may have fallen at Washington without him taking off on runs that were supposed to be passes again last night.
Against the Broncos in Seattle's previous game I counted six sacks Wilson avoided with his now increasingly common, twisting, turning around and running outside opposing pass rushers who couldn't contain him. He looked like a grown-up being chased around a playground by kids in a game of tag -- without the "tag" part. That happened at least a half-dozen more times against Washington. The home team finished with three sacks, and should have had nine.
Instead, Wilson finished with Seahawks and Monday Night Football records for yards rushing by a quarterbacks, 122 on 11 carries. That broke the Seattle record for a QB of 102 yards rushing he had last October at Indianapolis. He had 80 yards at the end of the first quarter. Maybe five of those 11 carries were called runs, including his dash around left end for a 9-yard touchdown that made it 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
After Washington got within 24-17 with 3 minutes left, the Seahawks had a third and 4 at midfield with 2:33 remaining. Wilson did it again, running around and away from three defenders who were swarming him. He found Marshawn Lynch open as as safety-valve receiver. His flick-of-the-wrist pass and Lynch's rumble for most of the 20-yard gain put the Seahawks into position to run another 2 minutes off the clock before Steven Hauschka's clinching field goal with 27 seconds to go.
"The scrambles, that's him finding a way to make a play," Carroll said. "I can't wait to see the play (the pass two Lynch). I don;t know what the heck happened on that play. For everybody to be right and not grab somebody or do something wrong in the middle of all that chaos -- and we come out of it with a 30-yard play was phenomenal by both guys."
Oh, yeah, Wilson also completed 18 of 24 throws for another 201 yards. He became the fifth quarterback since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to run for 100 yards, throw for 200 and have a touchdown in a game. And that doesn't count the two touchdown passes of 26 and 41 yards to Percy Harvin in the second and fourth quarters that officials called back because of a phantom hitting-a-player-while-he-was-down personal foul on guard James Carpenter and a false start on Harvin for leaving a split-second before the snap -- on a play the officials should have by rule and mechanics blown dead at the snap, if the false start was indeed the call as referee Jeff Triplett announced.
Through four games Wilson is completing 70.3 percent of his throws . His career average for his two-season career entering this one was 63.6. He has 852 yards passing -- on pace for a career-best 3,408 -- with eight touchdowns and one interception that extrapolate to 32 TDs and four interceptions for the season if he maintains this supersonic pace of the first four games. He has 209 yards on 29 carries, a eye-popping average of 7.2 yards per carry. He's even caught his first career pass, two games ago for 17 yards for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse on a flea-flicker to set up an early score against Denver.
About all he has yet to do this season is raise the 12th Man flag immediately before kickoff at CenturyLink Field -- though the way he is moving he could do that above the second deck of the south end zone and still get down on the field for the game's start.
I asked Wilson (as you can see in the video above from the postgame press conference) what gives him confidence to take off with all his improvisational "stuff." (OK, the question wasn't as polished as it could have been).
"What gives me the confidence with the improv stuff?" Wilson repeated, as if to buy time to ponder the question -- or mock my vague, generic wording.
Then he smiled.
"No, I just trust my reads and I just go through them," he said. "And if it's not there I just try to extend the play and make the smart play. Don't really try to force it. ... And I trust my guys that they are going to fight for me.
"To be honest with you guys, so of those sacks were really on me. ... I could have hit someone a little bit quicker. But, you know, I'm still learning. I'm still trying to get better every day. And it's something I can fix. That's the exciting part of all this -- the whole game. The penalty stuff we can fix. That's the great part, to know we can fix all that and still come out with a win."
I'm getting a lot of blow-back on Twitter from Washington fans and media about the lead quote I put in the game story I filed for this morning's News Tribune.
I talked to Richard Sherman alone in the locker room following the game, when he was sitting by himself at his locker before most of the media got in there. I asked the All-Pro cornerback how much of him felt this Seahawks win should have been by, oh, five touchdowns instead of 10 points?
“A lot of me thinks that. It should have been 45-10,” Sherman said. “There was never a point where we were worried.
“I mean, we were in control.”
I thought that accurately captured the feel and flow of the game.
When I posted that quote on Twitter many from Washington responded with "What about that coverage on the DeSean Jackson 40-yard touchdown catch?" That was in the second quarter, down the right sideline, Sherman's flank on the Seattle defense's left edge.
Well, Seattle was in a disguise of its usual cover-2 defense with safety help over the top of cornerback coverage underneath. On Jackson's TD, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn called for Sherman to run inside and swap responsibilities with strong safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor then had Sherman's usual outside coverage responsibilities. It was too much of an ask for Chancellor to run 20 yards laterally to the sideline to get to the speedy Jackson and then turn to run with him down the sideline. Jackson was wide open for Washington's only touchdown of the first 56 1/2 minutes.
Washington had the perfect play call for that tricked-up coverage. Or, as Sherman put it from the Seahawks' perspective: "It was a bad call for the play they ran. Our coordinator tried to get exotic and they had a perfect play for it."
It was similar to the out-and-up route that Denver succeeded on twice late ion regulation two games ago, including for the tying touchdown -- Washington hit on another of those moves later in Monday's game. But this one was more Jackson zooming past an out-of-place, out-of-comfort-zone safety in a switched-up coverage that works best when the routes are shorter in out out cuts, not go patterns down the sideline. Sherman did race back from about the hash marks to try to catch Jackson around the 10-yard line but Jackson was well into overdrive to the goal line by then.
"It was Cover 2 and I was the safety," Sherman said. "They ran the perfect play. I was supposed to be where I was."
EXTRA NIGHT IN D.C.
The Seahawks made the unusual move of staying the night in their team hotel a block from the White House Monday night rather than fly home immediately after the game. They will board their chartered jet today and arrive this afternoon instead. The game didn't end until almost midnight local time here, so they wouldn't have taken off from Washington until at least 2 a.m., with about a 6 a.m. arrival in Seattle. This way gives the players a fuller night of rest in hotel beds rather than airplane seats, and today is the players' off day anyway.
The team gets back at practice Wednesday for Sunday's game at home against surprising Dallas (4-1).
Carroll said center Max Unger seems OK. The starter limped off with a foot injury with 6 minutes left in last night's game and the Seahawks announced he was done for the night, but Unger came back for Seattle's final drive. Stephen Schilling made his NFL debut at center replacing Unger to complete the previous drive. Schilling began working at center for Seattle in August during training camp, after doing it last season for San Diego's scout team in practices.