Doug Baldwin was so, so open. Nothing but the blue and white turf underneath and around him as he slanted across the middle of the Seahawks’ end zone.
Except the 30-year-old is 5-foot-10, and Russell Wilson’s throw assumed he was about 15-foot-10.
That would have been the first touchdown of the season for him. Baldwin entered the 10th game of the Seahawks’ season with zero TD catches – he led the NFL with 14 touchdowns in 2015 and had eight last year.
Asked about that miss, Baldwin briefly burst into laughter.
“I just didn’t’ know what happened. Maybe he got flushed and couldn’t see me or whatever,” Baldwin said. “But, obviously, disappointed on the missed opportunity because at that point we needed those points.”
But maybe Baldwin and Wilson finally rekindled some of that seemingly lost chemistry. Wilson threw another pass just off Baldwin’s fingertips on a second-down pass in the end zone in the second quarter before calling the same play for him, except flipping the field, on third down to find him for a 6-yard TD pass.
This was the longest stretch of Baldwin’s career to go without a score. The previous longest TD drought was the first six weeks of the 2014 season.
“Finally,” Baldwin said. “Finally – that’s all I can say.”
Not that he’s been 100-percent Angry Doug, though.
He said afterward that this is the best he’s felt in the past four months, at least, since he received “special treatment” on his knee this offseason. Baldwin missed the entire preseason and was held out most of training camp recovering.
“Doug looks great,” Wilson said. “We were talking about it this week and really the week before. We wanted him to get the ball. He’s a superstar.”
Baldwin finished with a season-high seven catches and a season-high 10 targets for 52 yards against the Green Bay Packers.
The theme for much of the first half was Wilson under-throwing Baldwin. Wilson missed him when Baldwin had a step-and-a-half on a fade route in the first quarter and then just missing him again in the end zone in the end zone, again, before they finally connected.
“It was great to get Doug in the end zone – finally,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He was due to have a big game.”
Wilson’s off throws and four Seahawks false starts were the primary culprits to the Seahawks slow start, trailing 14-3 in the first quarter.
That turned around in the fourth quarter. Wilson completed 6-of-8 passes or 107 yards on the Seahawks’ final two scoring drives, including a go-ahead TD to Ed Dickson. Wilson threw for 12 yards in the first half.
But first getting Seattle’s offense turned around meant getting on time with Baldwin.
“It’s just a reminder of where we’ve been and where we are,” Wilson said. “Me and him have thrown a lot of balls together and scored a lot of touchdowns together. That’s huge for us. It’s great to see him continue to be the way he is. He’s a superstar in what he does. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Jimmy Graham, and his 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end frame, had a quiet day in his return to Seattle, where he played the previous three seasons to underwhelmed Seahawks’ expectations.
He was spotted chatting on the sideline before the game with Seahawks’ bearded general manager John Schneider, then later hugging coach Pete Carroll.
He caught a 13-yard pass on the Packers’ first drive, but he wasn’t targeted by Aaron Rodgers in the Packers’ passing game after that. He exited to the locker room just before the two-minute warning before halftime after injuring his thumb blocking Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald and did not return.
Graham has 439 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 10 games with the Packers this season after 520 yards and 10 touchdowns for Seattle last year.
K.J. Wright has obviously had a setback in his return from summer knee surgery.
The Seahawks left their Pro Bowl linebacker inactive for Thursday night’s crucial game against the Packers because of ongoing issues in his repaired left knee. Wright started last weekend at the Los Angeles Rams but had to leave that game because of pain.
That was his third start of the season. The 29-year-old missed the first six games following arthroscopic knee surgery in late August. He was expected to return within a month, but he missed two months.
His contract ends after this season. He has said he wants to end his career with Seattle.
Other Seahawks’ inactives included DL Dion Jordan, DB Neiko Thorpe, DB Delano Hill, RB C.J. Prosise, OL Ethan Pocic and DL Poona Ford.
Salute to service
On Salute to Service night at CenturyLink Field, 96-year-old Art Unruh, a U.S. Air Force veteran, raised the 12th Man flag for the Seahawks. TSgt. Alfredo Garza Jr., a Yakima native who was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord before he was deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq, where he earned an Air Force Commendation Medal, sang the national anthem.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Incredible moment.<br><br>96-year-old Art Unruh, a US Air Force Veteran, raised the 12th man flag for the <a href="https://twitter.com/Seahawks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Seahawks</a> tonight. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaluteToService?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaluteToService</a> <a href="https://t.co/SX9DUhajs6">pic.twitter.com/SX9DUhajs6</a></p>— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) <a href="https://twitter.com/FOXSports/status/1063241743489855488?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 16, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Rashaad Penny ran for 30 yards on his first snap in the first quarter but exited with an ankle injury. He did return, and appears to have supplanted Mike Davis as the Seahawks’ primary backup to Chris Carson. … Frank Clark’s second sack of the game on Rodgers was his 10th of the season, tying his career-high for a single season (10 in 2016). … The Seahawks made an adjustment over recent weeks on defense, using second-year free agent Austin Calitro as their primary nickel linebacker instead of veteran Barkevious Mingo. The Packers took the lead just before halftime on Rodgers’ TD pass over Calitro to Aaron Jones. … Rookie third-round pick out of USC Rasheem Green, who missed all of October with a sprained ankle, picked up his first career sack, coming on third down in the fourth quarter to force a Packers’ field goal.