These five touchdown catches in two games have to be a career best for Doug Baldwin, right?
Best since his college days at Stanford, maybe?
Or since he was at Gulf Breeze High School in Florida a decade ago?
Nope, nope and nope.
“Little League,” the Seahawks’ No. 1 wide receiver said Sunday, after he continued his merry holiday season with two more touchdown passes from Russell Wilson in Seattle’s 38-7 smacking of the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.
Baldwin had two more souvenir footballs from his catches behind him in his locker as he spoke. Those will join the three that are already in cases at home from last week’s win over Pittsburgh.
He had three touchdowns total through the first nine games before he and Seattle turned this season around.
He has 24 catches the past four weeks. He had 17 catches total in a six-game stretch during the malaise portion of the season for the Seahawks’ offense, late September through the first of November, a 13-12 slog past Dallas.
That was back when the offensive line with starters in three new positions wasn’t blocking much of anyone. Back when Wilson was running for his life away from constant pressure rather than standing in the pocket and firing to Baldwin and friends.
That pocket is pretty right now. And Wilson’s been comfy inside it while finding his favorite target, as comforting as his own personal “B.”
As in, Baldwin.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Baldwin said. “We’ve got Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Patrick Lewis, J.R. Sweezy and Garry Gilliam blocking their tails off for Russell Wilson. That’s what it comes down to. When Russell has enough time to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball, he’s going to find the open receiver and deliver it.
“Our concepts have always been good. It’s just we’ve had to be on the same page. Russell is just playing out of his mind right now. He’s getting the ball out, delivering the ball on time. What he’s doing inside the pocket right now puts him up there with some of the greats in this game.”
Wilson’s greatest two plays came consecutively late in the third quarter.
He ran for an apparent 53-yard score that got nullified by tight end Luke Willson’s holding penalty. On the next play, Wilson spied an imminent Vikings blitz for which the Seahawks had game-planned all week. Wilson changed the protection and Baldwin’s route at the line, to a post from right to left down the deep middle of the field.
His pass hit Baldwin in perfect stride at about the Vikings 20. Baldwin practically strolled the rest of the way for the 53-yard touchdown that made it 35-0 Seahawks.
We are at the point now that this is clicking, where this is real.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin
Coach Pete Carroll said he, Wilson and play-caller Darrell Bevell haven’t been doing anything to feature Baldwin or get him going on this career-best streak. It’s just Thomas Rawls’ power running (101 more yards rushing for the rookie) setting up play-action passes from a pocket that is far cleaner. And that’s most encouraging for the offense.
“What’s really exciting about it is we’re not doing anything special. We’re just doing what we do,” Carroll said. “He’s always there to make the play and take advantage of the opportunities.
“He’s playing great football. And we love seeing it.”
Behind Wilson-to-Baldwin, the Seahawks are back to their December offensive blowouts. Entering next week’s game at Baltimore, Seattle has scored 106 points in their past three games, wins against San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Minnesota. It’s reminiscent of the Seahawks’ scoring 58, 50 and 42 points in December 2012, Wilson’s rookie season.
Baldwin thinks this offensive surge is more impressive and meaningful than that oft-cited one three seasons ago.
“This feels more real,” Baldwin said. “It feels more consistent.
“Those back-to-back 50-point games felt like, ‘Oh, where did that come from?’ This, what we are doing right now, it’s been a gradual thing. It’s been a progressive thing. And so now we are at the point now that this is clicking, where this is real. It’s not something that we are pulling out one week. It’s something that’s going to be consistent.”