For a third straight week, Russell Wilson passed for three touchdowns, zero interceptions, completed 70 percent of his passes, and registered a quarterback rating of 138.5 or more.
And for a third straight week, the Seattle Seahawks (7-5) won a football game, this one coming on the road against the Minnesota Vikings (8-4), a team that was on top of the NFC North heading into the Week 13 matchup between the two clubs.
Wilson led his team to a 38-7 victory on Sunday afternoon at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, completing 21-of-27 passes (77.8-percent) for 274 yards and three scores for a 146.0 quarterback rating. He added nine carries for 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground – his first rushing score of the year, and before this week’s game, the only quarterback in franchise history to throw for three touchdowns in three consecutive games was Ring of Honor member Dave Krieg, who did it in 1983.
“He’s doing whatever we’re asking him to do,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of his quarterback after Sunday’s win. “He’s preparing beautifully. He is really dialed in. His connection with his guys, receivers, is really on it. The protection has been just beautiful, it was a great day of protecting today, and when we can mix our running game then that allows us to play the game in the style we want to and it suits him beautifully. So he’s taken advantage of all of that, he is really right and he’s showing it and it’s hard to continue to be that on it and I’m really thrilled for him.”
In last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilson threw for a regular-season career-high 345 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, and against the Vikings the Seahawks quarterback picked up right where he left off. He delivered from inside the pocket and was also at his best evading Minnesota defenders, taking just one sack on the day and finding chunks of yards with his arm and legs on scramble plays outside of the pocket. The Seahawks converted 9-of-13 (69 percent) on the always-critical third-down and scored touchdowns on three of their four trips to the red zone.
“We had a phenomenal week of practice, it starts there,” Wilson said from the podium postgame. “We came on the road in a tough environment, come in here to Minnesota, they’ve been playing so well and we were able to capitalize on opportunities, that’s what it comes down to.”
Two of Wilson’s three passing touchdowns went to Doug Baldwin, who was on the receiving end of three of Wilson’s five scoring strikes in last week’s win over the Steelers. The Seahawks wideout first hit pay dirt on a Wilson throw from 20 yards out in the second quarter, one play after an interception return by Seattle free safety Earl Thomas. Baldwin’s second score came on a 53-yard catch-and-run in the third that saw Baldwin run the wrong route on the play. Baldwin, who finished with five catches for a team-high 94 yards, credited Wilson for hitting him in stride, calling it his quarterback’s finest throw in a game full of quality connections.
“I’d have to say on my second touchdown, and the reason I say that is because I ran the wrong route,” was Baldwin’s reply when asked to name Wilson’s best throw of the day. “But he threw it in the perfect spot, so he’s playing unbelievably right now, man, I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s worked so hard to get to this point. All of his throws today we’re pretty darn good.”
Coinciding with Wilson’s recent surge in play has been the uptick in performance on Seattle’s offensive line, a unit that after allowing 31 sacks through the first seven games has allowed just seven sacks in their past five, a run that includes arguably the best three-game stretch of Wilson’s four-year career.
“Well, I think the protection is as good as we’ve seen it in a while and so he does what he does,” Carroll said. “He looks very, very solid and very comfortable when he gets his chances and he did a great job at taking off on it this time. So I don’t know if it’s the best, or if he’s just doing what he’s always done.
“When you protect him he is really tough to deal with.”
Wilson agreed with his head coach’s assessment of the big bodies up front.
“That’s all offensive line, honestly, they’re doing a tremendous job protecting and allowing me to go through the reads and just throw the ball to the right guy at the right time,” Wilson said of his success inside the pocket. “The receivers are phenomenal, they’re making plays all over the place, tight ends too as well, and running backs, so that’s really a tribute to the offensive line and them making plays.”
Baldwin, asked to attribute a reason for Seattle’s steady offensive improvement, couldn’t put his finger on just one thing, but said the offensive line, and most notably Wilson’s play, have had plenty to do with it.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it, our offensive line is playing better,” Baldwin said. “But honestly, in my opinion, Russell Wilson has been playing like the best quarterback in the League the last 12 quarters. He’s been unbelievable, phenomenal.
“When he’s doing what he’s doing it’s very hard for any team to stop him because of how good he can be.”
With the win, Wilson improves to 13-2 since 2012 in games played during the month of December, passing Peyton Manning for the best record in that span. He’s thrown for 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions, and has completed 76.7 percent of his passes the past three weeks after throwing nine scores and seven picks through the team’s first nine games.
But the numbers don’t mean much to Wilson. All that matters is the next opportunity. That comes Sunday, Dec. 13 on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.
“It’s a good stretch, obviously to get the wins against the very tough teams we’ve been going on,” Wilson said. “But ultimately we’ve got another tough game next week, so hopefully we can put it together again, get prepared for that.
“The only thing that matters is next week. That’s just our focus. That’s always been our focus, to go 1-0. Sounds cliche and boring at times, but I think that when we can really wrap our minds around that, it gives us a really good chance to be successful.”