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Originally published October 6, 2014 at 9:13 PM | Page modified October 7, 2014 at 8:25 PM

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Russell Wilson saves Seahawks from themselves

The Seahawks were rusty against Washington on “Monday Night Football” but quarterback Russell Wilson came to the rescue in a 27-17 victory that improved Seattle’s record to 3-1.


Times staff columnist

Russell Wilson, by the numbers

201 passing yards, on 18 of 24 passes, with no interceptions.

122 rushing yards, on 11 carries, a “Monday Night Football” record and career best.

80 rushing yards less than nine minutes into the game, on four carries.

36 yards on longest pass play of the game, to Cooper Helfet in the second quarter, setting up a TD that gave the Seahawks a 17-0 lead.

29 yards on a run on the Seahawks’ first possession, setting up a TD pass on the next play. It was the longest run for any player in the game.

9 yards on touchdown run on the play after his 36-yard pass to Helfet.

2 touchdown passes, the first 15 yards to Jermaine Kearse for a 7-0 lead, the second a 9-yarder to Marshawn Lynch that made it 24-10.

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LANDOVER, Md. – Russell Wilson is so nonchalant about the gift.

His mobility redefines what a quarterback can do, especially with his keen sense of how to use it. But, meh, he’d rather not dwell on the subject.

It’s a premeditated indifference because Wilson wants you to respect his arm, his brain and his intangibles, too. It’s also a genuine indifference because he lives by his own lofty, Wilsonian standard.

“I don’t think running for me is ever part of the game plan, really,” Wilson said. “It just kind of happens.”

It just kind of happened in record-setting fashion Monday night. It just kind of happened that Wilson rushed for 122 yards, the most ever by a QB on “Monday Night Football.” And it just kind of happened that, in a sloppy performance burdened by penalties and uncharacteristic Seahawks mistakes, Wilson used his wizardry and agility to ensure his team wouldn’t lose a bizarre game.

In a 27-17 victory over Washington before 79,522 at FedExField, the out-of-sorts Seahawks needed all of Wilson’s playmaking genius to overcome an opponent much mightier than the one they were facing — themselves. Throughout the game, the Seahawks made up for Washington’s ineffectiveness by committing 13 penalties and making the classic mistakes of a team coming off a bye.

They were rusty. They made the game far more difficult than it should have been. It should have been an easy victory over an inferior team. It should have been another one of those primetime Seattle games that television executives hate: nothing more than an infomercial about the Seahawks’ greatness.

Instead, the Seahawks struggled with their sloppiness the entire night, shook their heads at some questionable officiating and watched a 17-0 lead shrink and transform into fourth-quarter tension.

In the NFL, you don’t take road victories for granted, but it was hard not to grimace at this one. Over the course of coach Pete Carroll’s five years in Seattle, the Seahawks have become a more disciplined team. They’re aggressive, which dictates they’ll always be among the league’s most penalized teams. They like playing with that kind of edge. But Monday was a throwback to the frustrating past, with penalties killing drives and hindering an offense that Washington couldn’t stop.

Percy Harvin had three touchdowns negated by penalty. And though the Seahawks defense had a good night, the Legion of Boom, their acclaimed secondary, gave up two uncharacteristic big plays to speedy Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Jackson had 157 yards on five receptions, including a 60-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter and a 57-yarder in the third that set up a field goal. He accounted for more than half of Washington’s 307 total yards.

But beyond all the penalties and the frustration, this game was ultimately decided by the stunning difference in the two rushing attacks. The Seahawks ran for 225 yards, with Marshawn Lynch (72 yards) complementing Wilson, who did everything from keeping the football on read-zone plays to darting past the defense on cleverly designed runs to scrambling as a last resort. Meanwhile, Washington managed just 32 yards and 1.9 yards per carry. Running back Alfred Morris, who has averaged 87.4 rushing yards per game in his two-plus NFL seasons, had 29 yards on 13 carries.

The Seahawks offense currently leads the NFL in rushing (167.2 yards per game), and their defense allows the fewest rushing yards in the league (62.2). The perception used to be that you could get yards on the ground against the Seahawks. But the truth is they finished seventh in the NFL in run defense a year ago, and they appear to be even better now.

Asked what he’d say to teams that think they can run on the Seahawks, linebacker K.J. Wright said, “Come try it, please. We love it. Come see what you can do.”

But this was another game to showcase Wilson’s continued maturation. He ran for 80 yards, on four carries, in the first quarter alone. Wilson also completed 18 of 24 passes, including TD tosses to Jermaine Kearse and Lynch. He ran for a touchdown, too.

Even when the Seahawks aren’t at their best, they can win sometimes on the greatness of their quarterback.

“He was a special player tonight,” Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said of Wilson. “I don’t think it was anything we were really doing poorly. I mean, the guy is just a football player and was making some great plays.”

His greatest play of the night came on a 30-yard pass to Lynch with 2:33 remaining and the Seahawks clinging to a 24-17 lead. Wilson took a shotgun snap, avoided pressure to his right, spun to his left, and as he was running out of room, he dropped a soft pass into Lynch, who rumbled into field-goal position.

Most quarterbacks would’ve thrown it away. Not Wilson.

“I wasn’t thinking about throwing it away,” he said. “I was trying to hang in there as long as I could.”

Even when the Seahawks are off their game, Wilson can turn on the magic. And then he just shrugs. No big deal.

It just kind of happens.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com On Twitter @JerryBrewer



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About Jerry Brewer

Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
jbrewer@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2277

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