But even with Chris Carson‘s legs doing some of the heavy lifting Sunday and Seattle’s embattled defense holding up its end of the bargain, Wilson continued to etch his name in the NFL record books.
He threw two more touchdown passes in the Seahawks’ 31-23 win at the Miami Dolphins. That gives him 16 TDs this season, tying Peyton Manning’s record from 2013 for the most through a team’s first four games. Wilson set the record for most TDs through three games last week with 14.
“Russ for MVP 2020,” Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf stumped postgame.
The Seahawks improved to 4-0 for just the second time in franchise history. They also did so in 2013, the season they won Super Bowl XLVIII.
Carson was a question mark for much of the week after suffering what coach Pete Carroll called a first-degree knee strain on a controversial tackle last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He started against Miami and scored his first two rushing touchdowns of the season while totaling 100 yards on 19 touches and handling the bulk of the backfield work with Carlos Hyde inactive. Carson briefly left the game to be evaluated for a head injury.
“Chris is a stud football player,” Carroll said. “He ain’t ever backing down from anything. He told us when we got back [to practice] on Wednesday, he said, ‘I think I’m OK. I’m going to make it.’ So we took it easy on him first couple of days, got him through the week and he looked great. It really helped us because Carlos couldn’t go with a sore shoulder.
“Chris ran really well today. It was 80 yards’ worth of really good running. He’s such a tough football player and a great competitor that that’s not a surprise to us that he would bounce back like that and get back up off the turf. He took a hell of a shot and got back up and got right after it again. He’s a terrific football player.”
The Seahawks leaned heavily on Wilson over the first three games, partly by design and partly out of necessity, as their pass defense was gashed at a historic rate. The 1,292 passing yards Seattle allowed was easily the most through three games of a season in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But the D held up Sunday despite missing two starters in its secondary in All-Pro safety Jamal Adams and right cornerback Quinton Dunbar as well as linebacker Jordyn Brooks, their first-round pick. Adams’ backup, Lano Hill, also was out, leaving third-stringer Ryan Neal to start at strong safety.
Neal picked off Dak Prescott to seal Seattle’s home win over the Cowboys and came down with an interception of a tipped Ryan Fitzpatrick pass on Miami’s opening possession on Sunday. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin also picked off his second pass in as many weeks. Griffin’s interception with 4:27 remaining in the contest set up Carson’s second TD run, which extended Seattle’s lead to 31-15.
The Seahawks held Miami to five field goals before they reached the end zone on a Fitzpatrick run with under two minutes left. The 415 total yards Seattle allowed was a slight improvement from the first three weeks, when opponents totaled at least 450 yards. The biggest difference was only allowing one passing play of more than 25 yards after yielding a league-high 13 over the first three weeks.
Seahawks players and coaches have attributed some of their defensive struggles to a conservative approach they took late in games while protecting big leads. Griffin said All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner directed their defense to stay aggressive against Miami.
“Today, I feel like we just proved that we can be that defense, that secondary that everybody’s looking forward to seeing,” Griffin said. “I know that last couple of weeks, we’ve been giving up a lot of yards, and I feel like it came from us just playing soft. I feel like, like I said before, the offense has been playing amazing … so I feel like we got to a point where I feel like we was getting comfortable and we started playing more soft in coverage, and I feel like that’s not us as a defense.”
Wilson finished 24-of-34 for 360 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that came on an off-balance throw to Metcalf in the end zone. He now has 18 career games with at least 300 passing yards, one shy of tying Matt Hasselbeck for most in Seahawks history, according to ESPN Stats & Info data.
Metcalf took responsibility for his role in the interception, saying he went low for a throw and lost track of cornerback Xavien Howard.
Wilson’s only other interception this campaign was a pick-six in Week 2 that bounced off Greg Olsen‘s hands.
The signal-caller’s first touchdown on Sunday was to running back Travis Homer at the end of the first half, capping a drive that went 75 yards in only 21 seconds. Much of that came on a 57-yard completion to David Moore, who was wide open thanks to a coverage bust by Miami. The touchdown rewarded the Seahawks’ decision to try to score instead of kneeling out the clock when they took over at their own 25 with two timeouts and 24 seconds left.
Moore’s 17-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter gave the Seahawks some breathing room, extending their lead to 24-15 with 5:30 remaining. Griffin’s interception came on Miami’s ensuring possession.
“After D-Mo’s touchdown, we knew we had control of the game,” Metcalf said. “We had all the momentum, especially after Shaq caught the interception. We knew we had a chance to put the game away, and that’s what we did.”
All three of the penalties called against Seattle on Sunday were declined or offset by Miami penalties. The last time the Seahawks didn’t have an accepted penalty against them was in 2007 against the Baltimore Ravens.