What a truly satisfying night of football.
There’s been a lot of talk this week. Brandon Browner’s suspension. Walter Thurmond’s suspension. Percy Harvin’s injury status.
In pre-game, Trent Dilfer questioned the legitimacy of Seattle’s defense.
There were plenty of doubters. I’ll admit I wondered whether all the talk would be a distraction.
Well, that was some statement to the critics.
Let’s cut to the chase — Russell Wilson is the second best thing to ever happen to this football team. Right behind Paul Allen buying the franchise and keeping it in the city.
I’ve been following Gregg Rosenthal’s NFL.com series ranking the quarterbacks. Every week he lists Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers in a class of their own (Brady is consistently way down the list, although I’m not sure why).
Gregg is going to have to make room for Wilson at the top table.
He doesn’t have as many touchdown passes as Manning and co, but it’s purely by design.
Tonight was a masterclass.
He wasn’t totally flawless. He probably should’ve been picked off in the first half on a downfield throw to Golden Tate. He missed an open Doug Baldwin in the third quarter.
And that, my friends, is about the grand total of the struggles Wilson ‘endured’ against a supposed top defense.
On a night when Marshawn Lynch was held in check, the quarterback put the team on his back. He ran. He threw. He improvised. He notched up twice as many yards as Brees.
League MVP? Why not?
Seattle has the best record in the NFL. Wilson is the teams best player. Seahawks fans should celebrate every day the decision to draft the 5-11 quarterback so many teams were sceptical of.
They should also celebrate the teams offensive coordinator. Darrell Bevell will be coveted in the off-season. Big time. And while people love to complain when things don’t go swimmingly, this really was a genius piece of game-planning tonight.
He constantly kept the Saints guessing. Bevell used all his weapons and found a way to get Wilson rolling without gimmicks or tricks.
I’ve always been surprised by the grief Bevell receives from some fans. He gets no credit for Wilson’s quick rise to prosperity. When things go well he’s rarely praised. And if you run through a list of currently active offensive coordinators — who would you swap him for?
Seattle gave Bevell a pay rise last off-season to make sure he stuck around. It might be time to start writing up a new offer.
Elsewhere — the pass protection issues are in the past following the return of Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. Doug Baldwin is making it very easy to get over Harvin’s hip injury. And Zach Miller really is Mr. Consistency. While a shiftier tight end probably walks into the endzone on the 60-yard play — Miller once again provided a reliable target for his quarterback.
Back to the defense — very few teams shut down Drew Brees. They made the New Orleans offense look positively ordinary.
Going into MNF, Brees was on a 43-game streak of 200-yard passing games. The NFL record is 45, held by Dan Fouts.
That run ended tonight with a 147 yard effort.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch the Saints a few times this year. Every time their screen game stood out. It was fearsome. Teams knew what was coming, and they couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
K.J. Wright and the Seahawks made it look like a piece of cake, something nobody else has done this year to my knowledge.
Time and time again, Wright identified the screen, shed a block and made a play. His performance was completely understated on a night when others got the plaudits.
Earl Thomas has achieved Luke Kuechly status. By that I mean — every tackle is lauded by the commentators, he’s constantly talked about as an MVP candidate and any mistake is quickly glossed over.
Cliff Avril continues his march to becoming Seattle’s most effective pass rusher. Another strip-sack today — his speciality — led to Michael Bennett’s early touchdown. These two have had a major impact this year. Avril is signed up for 2014 — but they need to find a way to keep Bennett too.
Byron Maxwell had one bad play by my count — a slightly slow recovery to a Jimmy Graham inside slant for a first down. Apart from that? A really encouraging display.
Seattle held New Orleans to seven points. Seven. Points.
I started this blog in 2008, anticipating a rare opportunity to cover a top-five draft pick for a competitive and injury-hit Seahawks team.
By the end of 2009, it became apparent this was actually a major rebuild. All those dreams of winning a Championship had vanished. Seattle was old, injured and going nowhere fast.
Now, we almost take for granted this is an eleven-win team with four weeks to go in the regular season.
Life is good.
Now go beat the Niners.