BALTIMORE---The Seattle Seahawks looked like a team headed to a third straight Super Bowl on Sunday, and Russell Wilson like a quarterback who’s earning his four-year, $87.6 million extension.
For the second time in three weeks, Wilson equaled a franchise record with five touchdown passes, and over the last four weeks, he’s done something very special.
Wilson has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each game, 16 in all, and not been intercepted. His completion rate has been over 70 percent.
“It’s been amazing the past few weeks,” Doug Baldwin said.
In the last four games, Baldwin has caught half of Wilson’s touchdown passes—eight.
“He’s playing unbelievable. I know he’ll come up here and say: ‘nothing’s different.’ But, he’s playing his tail off.”
Wilson threw three scores to Baldwin and two more to rookie Tyler Lockett.
He had to because Thomas Rawls, who played magnificently at running back with Marshawn Lynch out with a chest injury, broke his left ankle near the end of the Seahawks’ first scoring drive.
Coach Pete Carroll thinks Lynch, who has missed four games with a chest injury, may be nearing a return.
Without Lynch and Rawls, Seattle was left with veteran Fred Jackson and little-used DuJuan Harris. They contributed little, but Wilson was the whole show.
“It’s Russ right now. He’s ballin’,” Baldwin said.
Wilson, who speaks at length without saying much controversial, always tries to deflect the credit.
“I don’t know if my confidence has changed. I think ultimately we’re just playing better. We’re executing better,” Wilson said.
Seattle has won four straight and is 8-5. They trail Arizona by three games in the NFC West, but have an excellent shot to make the playoffs.
The Seahawks have three games left, at home with Cleveland and St. Louis, and a Week 17 matchup against the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
If Seattle is to play in a third straight Super Bowl, something that hasn’t happened in more than two decades, they’ll have to win on the road. That doesn’t faze the unabashed cornerback Richard Sherman.
“If we had to play on the Moon, we would go there and play,” Sherman said.
Last year, there was early season carping at Wilson, but the team went on a roll and nearly won its second straight Super Bowl.
The last-minute loss to New England is surely past this group.
“It took us some time to leave that behind. We don’t need that to be motivated. We need to get rid of that,” Carroll said.
This year, the Seahawks lost four of their first six, and many were thinking free agency had caught up to this bunch.
“No, we thought we were going to lose the rest of our games,” defensive end Michael Bennett cracked.
“Our confidence was so low I couldn’t look myself in the mirror.”
Bennett’s sarcasm aside, Carroll who seemingly never has a bad day, said he could tell the team, which has won six of seven and lost to the Cardinals by a touchdown in the only loss, was getting back its mojo
“We’ve been feeling it for over a month now,” Carroll said. “Who’s ever called up to play is doing it.”
In the Seahawks’ last two games, they’ve beaten the Vikings and Ravens by a gaudy 73-13.
“For the defense not to give up a touchdown two weeks back-to-back, that’s really special stuff,” Carroll notes.
Besides playing standout cornerback, Sherman is doubling as a public relations specialist. He thinks Baldwin should make the Pro Bowl because he’s certain that the receiver has made the most of his catches.
“Can you guys find me the targets?” Sherman asked. “Let’s find that.”
Wilson has been playing at the highest level of his four-year career.
“He played like he does in practice,” Carroll said.
Baldwin has played with Wilson throughout his career and sees a difference.
“It’s him knowing my body language and knowing when I’m going to cut and knowing what I’m going to do. Last week, I ran the wrong route, and he put the ball in the perfect spot,” Baldwin said.
“Everything that he’s doing right now, he’s done before. He’s doing it at a very high level. He’s always been magnificent outside of the pocket, but now he’s doing something he hasn’t done up to this level inside the pocket. It makes it so much easier on everybody else.”
Wilson claims not to hear the hype—or the negativity.
“I ignore the noise. I also tell everybody that’s in my small group, not to tell me anything. I don’t want to hear anything,” Wilson said.
Sherman hears the negative, and happily responds.
“The Seattle Seahawks, back doing what they do. Let’s call all those people who wrote us off and call for their jobs," he said.