Early in the third quarter on Sunday, with the Seahawks leading 12-10, Travis Homer was stopped on a third-down toss to the left. The Falcons defense was visibly elated in celebration that it had gotten off the field and forced the Seahawks into a long field-goal try.
That didn’t sit right with Russell Wilson.
“I kind of just looked to the sideline and said, ‘Let’s go after them,’” Wilson recalled postgame.
Seattle kept its offense on the field and went for it on 4th-and-5 from Atlanta’s 38-yard line. It was a decision the Seahawks likely wouldn’t have made a year ago. That would have been a sure-fire kick of some sort, regardless of whether it was Michael Dickson or Jason Myers who would have taken the field.
But not on Sunday. Seattle opted to roll the dice and bet on their best player to come through for them. Wilson did just that, connecting with DK Metcalf down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown.
“Believing in our guys,” Pete Carroll said of why the decision was made to go for it. “Look at how much belief and how comfortable Russ was in that situation. He didn’t just look to dink it to try and get the conversion. He took what was there and took a great shot to DK. Beautiful execution by both of those guys.”
That fourth down decision was notable, but the Seahawks play calling all game long indicated a shift in offensive philosophy. The “Let Russ Cook” campaign is off to a tremendous start in 2020. Brian Schottenheimer, who was dialed in throughout the contest, called 21 passes over the course of Seattle’s first 35 offensive snaps.
Wilson, apart from a short lull in the second quarter, did nothing but produce. He was nearly flawless in Seattle’s 38-25 win in Atlanta, completing 31-of-35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns with an immaculate 143.1 passer rating. He added a team-high 29 rushing yards for good measure in what was a notable start to a potential MVP run this season.
“We wanted to be aggressive in our approach just in general,” Wilson said. “We wanted to be able to run the ball, too, which we did.”
Schottenheimer deserves plenty of credit for keeping the Falcons defense off balance despite the pass-heavy approach. Nine different Seahawks caught a pass on Sunday and five different guys had a carry. There was creativity to all of it. Schottenheimer notably called an option play in the first half that Wilson kept himself for a 28-yard run.
Seattle demonstrated the perfect equilibrium of play-calling and execution.
“I thought he called a terrific game all day long,” Carroll said of Schottenheimer. “He just went with the stuff that we’ve been doing that has looked so good in practice. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
“I think it’s just a sign of how we’ve worked in this offseason. It’s the way we’ve been practicing. Russ was in total command and had a beautiful game.”
The Seahawks even utilized tempo even in non-two-minute situations. That’s something Wilson clamored for in the offseason.
“I think we’re going to mix it in here and there,” Wilson said. “I think it’s an important part of the game to be able to control the game and strike fear in defenses in different ways.”
Wilson is arguably surrounded by the best collection of skill players he’s ever had at his disposal. Chris Carson caught two touchdowns. Greg Olsen caught one as well in his Seahawks debut. Carlos Hyde ran for a score as well in his first game with Seattle.
But there’s no denying that Tyler Lockett is the metronome that keeps everything moving forward. He remains Wilson’s go-to guy and continues to be a remarkable combination of efficient, dependable, and productive.
Lockett quietly, as seems to be his M.O., caught all eight of his targets for 92 yards against the Falcons.
“Tyler is Mr. Dependable in so many ways. I love how he approaches the game,” Wilson said. “He needs to get more recognition for what he’s doing, to be honest with you. He’s been unstoppable for the last however many years. I think he’s one of the best receivers in the game, hands down.”
It’s just one game, but a statement was made all the same: The Seahawks, led by Wilson, have the personnel and mindset to be one of the NFL’s most potent offenses this season.