Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson’s legend grows; “best” defense dominates again

Oh, sure, Russell Wilson has accomplished more in a game.

Heck, he quarterbacked Seattle to its first Super Bowl victory and played in another Super Bowl in his first four seasons.

But what the Seahawks’ quarterback did on Sunday afternoon in Seattle 27-17 victory over the New York Jets may have been his most heroic day yet.

Sprained knee. Sprained ankle. Stupendous play.

Wilson shook off injuries to both legs as if they weren’t there. Since he couldn’t run, he just passed — all over the stunned Jets in the Meadowlands.

“I think you can overcome any situation,” he said after his first 300-yard passing day this season.

“This is just a little ding here and there. That’s not going to stop me.”

Wilson didn’t just overcome. He overwhelmed. He completed 23 of 32 for 309 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions.

Wilson’s mind-over-matter strength, Jimmy Graham’s continued resurgence and another shutdown performance by the defense led Seattle to a 3-1 record entering a bye week.

“I really don’t know how to say enough about his mentality,” coach Pete Carroll said after Wilson ignored the pain and limitations to rack up a gaudy passer rating of 133.4 and keep Seattle tied with Los Angeles atop the NFC West.

“He has a perfect mentality to endure whatever he needs to endure. And he does it on the strength of his belief in himself, commitment to his teammates and just this marvelous will.”

“All those guys that say he can’t throw from the pocket don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Led by Richard Sherman’s two interceptions in his man-up shadowing of Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, the Seahawks’ defense shut out the Jets on just 28 total yards in the second half.

Seattle has allowed a combined 70 points in its last eight regular-season road games dating through a 20-3 win at San Francisco last Oct. 22.

“We are the best defense in the NFL,” Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett said. “We’ve been this way for four five, years.”

Graham had six catches on eight targets for 113 yards, his second-most yards since he became a Seahawk last year. It was the star tight end’s biggest yardage day since he tore the patellar tendon in his knee Nov. 29.

Graham has 12 catches for 213 yards the last two games.

Did he expect to contribute this much this quickly after a tricky surgery to repair the damage?

“I did, but nobody else did,” Graham said. “I’m just a little different. I’ve worked literally every second of the day on my knee …

“Hard work pays off.”

The Seahawks thought they needed a running game to protect Wilson’s legs and the pressure the Jets would send at him. But Seattle got just 68 yards on 24 carries.

Wilson was confined to the pocket and passing quickly far more than usual.

So what? He threw for his most yardage since January’s 31-24 loss at Carolina in the playoffs — when Seattle trailed 31-0 early and had to throw on almost every down.

Wilson was 10 for 11 passing for 191 yards in the first half with touchdown passes of 8 yards to C.J. Spiller — playing four days after the Seahawks signed the 29-year-old veteran — and undrafted rookie Tanner McEvoy. He had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the first half.

After McEvoy’s touchdown, the Seahawks led 14-3 late in the second quarter.

New York got within 14-10 by halftime.

Fitzpatrick hit Marshall with a deft back-shoulder pass and catch in the end zone versus Sherman, who spent the first three games this season mostly avoided by opposing QBs.

Marshall had four catches for 94 yards against Sherman. The All-Pro cornerback who shadowed last season’s NFL co-leader in touchdown catches all over the field in the day’s marquee faceoff. It was the first time this season the Seahawks employed Sherman as a shadow rather than him staying on his usual left side.

But that was about it for the Jets’ offense.

In the fourth quarter with Seattle leading 17-10, Sherman got his revenge. Fitzpatrick threw for 22 yards at the sideline to Marshall against Sherman. On the next play, the quarterback tried again — one too many times.

“That wasn’t smart,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

Sherman stayed inside Marshall and easily intercepted the pass. It was his first interception this season.

“You keep throwing at me, I’m going to get one,” Sherman said.

The Seahawks capped the ensuing drive with Wilson’s third TD pass, 6 yards to running back Christine Michael in the right flat. Michael, who had 18 carries for 58 yards rushing, extended his arm with the ball across the pylon before going out of bounds for the score. That made it 24-10 early in the final quarter.

Sherman got his second interception on New York’s final drive, in the final minute. It was his first two-interception day since Nov. 27, 2013 at San Francisco.

Up next: a bye week Wilson needs to heal those legs before Seattle hosts Atlanta Oct. 16.

“I get two, whole weeks?” Wilson asked with a grin and mock disbelief of the healing time.

“I can’t wait!”