Capitals

Wilson gives Seahawks optimism about next season

201301131541565018675-p2.jpeg

Wilson gives Seahawks optimism about next season

RENTON, Wash. (AP) While the rest of his teammates were throwing shoes, shirts and other belongings in boxes, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was in an upstairs meeting room watching film of the finest performance of his rookie season - one that ended in a loss.

Wilson can't wait for next season to begin. Neither can the rest of his Seahawks teammates.

``We're good. And we know that,'' wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. ``And we know we're capable of winning any game and matching up against anybody that we play against, but we also know we have work to do. There is progress to be made.''

The Seahawks were clearing out their lockers Monday, a day after nearly staging one of the biggest playoff comebacks in NFL history before losing to the Atlanta Falcons 30-28 in the divisional round. For the fourth straight time in the postseason, the Seahawks were ousted one game shy of the conference championship game.

Yet none may be as painful as the roller coaster the Seahawks went through Sunday.

Down 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 to start the fourth quarter, the Seahawks rallied behind Wilson's sterling play. He completed his first 10 passes of the second half, and finished 14 of 19 for 241 yards and two touchdowns over the final 30 minutes. He added another touchdown run and when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left, the Seahawks had taken a 28-27 lead.

Then Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took over with 25 seconds left and two timeouts, and he connected on a pair of completions when Seattle's blitzes didn't get enough pressure on the passer. Matt Bryant then made a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give Atlanta the lead.

And even still, the Seahawks season wasn't done until Wilson's desperation pass on the final play of the game was intercepted by Julio Jones in the end zone. It seemed an appropriate final chapter to a Seahawks season that was anything but boring.

``The thing I said to the guys afterward is 25 seconds isn't going to define this team,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``It was one of those moments that we had captured the night and they found a way to finish it. But this has been a great year for us in growth and accomplishment and coming to grips with what we're capable of doing and the kind of play we're able to put out there week after week.''

Wilson set an NFL record for the most yards passing in a playoff game by a rookie with 385, which also set a Seahawks franchise record. It capped a remarkable season for Wilson, who didn't earn the starting nod until after Seattle's third preseason game and wasn't given full reign of the Seahawks' offense until midseason.

While some franchises continue to search for a solid foundation at quarterback, the Seahawks go into next season knowing that the position is all but locked up for the foreseeable future. That's why Wilson spent some of Monday morning watching film rather than packing up his locker.

``Obviously, there are very high expectations for our football team now, and that's great to have,'' Wilson said. ``That means that we've got to work that much harder in practice, we've got to work that much harder in the offseason, and we've got to play that much better come game time. I look forward to those challenges and that's what I wait for.''

Wilson was outshined by Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III for most of the season, but if the rookie of the year vote included playoff performances, Wilson might be the favorite.

Yet it was Seattle's defense, which got most of the attention early in the season, that let the Seahawks down. While it's hard to criticize a unit that led the league in scoring defense, the loss to Atlanta was the fourth time during the season that Seattle allowed tying or winning points in the final 30 seconds of regulation.

Seattle couldn't hold a late lead and gave up scores against Detroit and Miami, then let Chicago tie the game on the final play of regulation after allowing a 56-yard pass play to Brandon Marshall - a game the Seahawks eventually won in overtime and started them on a six-game win streak the Falcons finally snapped.

This time, it was a 22-yard pass to Harry Douglas followed by a 19-yard strike to Tony Gonzalez that put the Falcons in position to pull out the victory. Carroll said Monday he didn't regret going for a fourth-and-1 deep in Atlanta's end in the first half that cost Seattle a field goal attempt, but there was some second-guessing about the zone coverage and blitzes Seattle chose to call on the final two plays.

Another area of concern was the lack of a pass rush without defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a torn ACL in the playoff win over Washington. Seattle got very little pressure on Ryan and was held without a sack for the third time this season. In 12 of their 18 games, the Seahawks had two sacks or less. And an Atlanta run game that ranked in the bottom half of the league for most of the season rushed for 167 yards. The Falcons averaged 6.4 yards per carry against Seattle after averaging 3.7 in the regular season.

Those are areas the Seahawks will address, while also relishing the success of a season that was supposed to be a foundation for the future and instead became a year where they were left disappointed they weren't playing for a chance at the Super Bowl.

``This is something great to build on for next season,'' Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. ``We'll have new parts, that's just the nature of the game, but we definitely have a great core here and something to build on.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

The Capitals’ simulated season continues on Tuesday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL 20, aired on NBC Sports Washington. Real-life Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin will be on the call.

In a partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBCSW is airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 20 games, taking place on the dates and times according to each team's regular season schedule with commentary from NBCSW's experts surrounding the coverage.

After the game wraps up, NBCSW will reair the Caps’ physical Nov. 18 affair with the Anaheim Ducks. Richard Panik scored his first goal in a Washington uniform and Garnet Hathaway was ejected after exchanging more than just blows in a fight with several Ducks.

Here’s how you can catch both games Tuesday night.

Broadcast Schedule

7:00 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (P)

8:00 PM – NHL Classics: Anaheim Ducks @ Capitals from Nov. 18, 2019 (R)

10:30 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (R)

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the MLS season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is working to find his way in the face of massive changes to the day-to-day life of so many around the world.

"The priority right now with the group that we have is to maintain a level of fitness," Olsen said on a conference call with local reporters this morning. "All we can do right now is follow the guidelines given by MLS."

Even though the team is not able to meet face-to-face like they normally would, Olsen and his staff have had to get creative in ways to continue to build team chemistry and make sure everyone is on the same page.

"We have a once-a-week call with everyone on a Zoom chat with the trainers," he said. "We talk about things like social media and how to stay connected to fans, the programs we are sending out and we get feedback from [the players] on what is going well."

Dealing with the pandemic has been especially challenging for players from overseas, who might not have the same support systems that those longtime MLS players have in the area. The club is making a particular point to reach out to those players.

D.C. United and its staff are also making sure that all of the club’s players are able to partake in individualized training to keep a level of fitness, even if that means getting some workout equipment to players who might not have it where they live.

As new challenges arise and are met, Olsen is trying to keep a positive mindset and joked that he now has the time to be a better husband and father than he normally would at the start of a new season.

"There’s this underlying positivity that again I feel very, very lucky because of the scenario I’m in," the head coach noted. "I’m also constantly thinking about others that are not in the situation I’m in. Whether it’s the EMTs, the firemen, the D.C. support system, our medical doctors, so many people on the frontlines that are doing so much and putting their lives in danger right now. I make sure we as a family are constantly reminding our children that there’s a lot of people out there doing some great things in a very, very tough time."

When asked what he misses most about what would be the end of the opening month of the MLS season, Olsen stated that he misses the locker room and being with his players.

"Dealing with the ups and downs of a season, dealing with the journey of the season," he said. "It’s a special thing that we have and I think in some ways you have to lose it to appreciate it. Right now I miss being in that locker room, I miss the guys, I miss my staff."

While no one knows yet when the season will return, Olsen is "very bullish and optimistic" that MLS will recover quickly.

"Of course the league will take a hit, just like every other league and every other business across this country," Olsen said. "This league will be just fine when we get through this, just like our country will be just fine."