EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Legend of Russell Wilson grows on. And on.
Sprained knee. Sprained ankle. Splendid day. Yet again.
Wilson shook off limitations in both legs as if they weren’t there. Since he couldn’t run, he just passed. And passed -- all over the stunned Jets.
“I think you can overcome any situation,” he said Sunday afternoon.
“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. His first 300-yard passing day this season, Jimmy Graham’s continued resurgence, and another shutdown performance by the Seahawks’ defense led Seattle to a 27-17 victory over New York at the Meadowlands (highlights here).
"He has an incredible will," coach Pete Carroll said after Wilson ignored all the pain and limitations and doubts to rack up a gaudy passer rating of 133.4 and send the Seahawks into their bye week at 3-1 and at least tied atop the NFC West.
"I really don’t know how to say enough about his mentality. He has the perfect mentality to endure – whatever it is he needs to endure."
Then, this zinger from the coach, in New York where some national writers question Wilson: “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 day-long, man-up shadowing of Jets top receiver Brandon Marshall, the Seahawks' defense shut out the Jets on just 28 total yards in the second half -- until a weird, fumble recovery and 42-yard recovery for a score by the Jets with 2:15 left. That was after Seattle end Cliff Avril forced a fumble on a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and everyone except New York’s Charone Peake stopped playing thinking the quarterback’s arm was moving forward on Avril’s hit for an incomplete pass.
Seattle has allowed 70 total points in its last 8 regular-season road games dating through a 20-3 win at San Francisco last Oct. 22.
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.
One of the 6-foot-7 former college basketball player’s catches was one-handed down the left sideline, with his extended right arm like a cartoon character.
"Jimmy Graham is a bad, bad man," Wilson said.
"He can do anything. He can make any play, any catch. He’s a special player."
The Seahawks now head into a needed bye week -- needed for Wilson to heal those legs before Seattle hosts Atlanta Oct. 16.
"I get two, whole weeks? I can’t wait!" Wilson said with a grin of the healing time.
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 because of his limitations and his bulky black brace over the sprained medial collateral ligament of his left knee.
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.
This time he threw not because he had to, but because it kept working so splendidly over the top of New York’s nasty defensive line.
Wilson was 10 for 11 passing for 191 yards and 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 in the first half. He had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the half, adapting to not being able to move away from pressure as much by passing with exquisite precision.
McEvoy’s touchdown came after this new, limited Wilson ducked pressure rather than ran away from it. McEvoy, the former quarterback, running back and wide receiver at Wisconsin the Seahawks tried as a safety in the offseason, ran left to right across the middle. He made the Jets’ lone cover safety turn the wrong way then fall over his feet. There was nothing but fake, green turf ahead of McEvoy to the end zone, and the Seahawks led 14-3 late in the second quarter.
The Seahawks appeared to stop the Jets on third and 2 at the start of their ensuing two-minute drill, but Matt Forte got a generous spot from officials at the end of a dive play for a first down. Seattle also appeared to end the drive when Sherman and Marshawll each fell down while getting their legs tangled on a slant route. Sherman appeared to intercept the ball while on the ground when it luckily found him, but a replay review revealed the ball hit the ground before Sherman cradled it.
That overturned ruling into an incomplete pass extended the drive for Fitzpatrick to find Marshall with a deft back-shoulder pass and catch. That weird, 14-play drive and touchdown made it 14-10 at halftime, despite the Seahawks feeling they were in full control.
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.
The Seahawks entered the fourth quarter leading 17-10, but the game had the feel of much more Seattle dominance than that.
Seattle had a mysterious end of the third quarter offensively. After getting to the Jets 30-yard line on a 12-yard catch by Graham, the Seahawks took him off the field for third down in the red zone -- the situation for which they traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round pick to get Graham from New Orleans last year. Wilson had to throw that pass away and settle for Steven Hauschka field goal and a 17-10 lead instead of a two-score one.
On the next drive, Seattle again had third down, this time from their own 16. Graham was on the field, then after the Seahawks called time out to avoid a penalty for delay of game the tight end was on the sidelines. Wilson was again forced to throw his pass away to avoid a sack.
But then 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. Sherman stayed inside Marshall and easily intercepted the pass, his first interception this season.
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.