Quick takeaways from Week 11 late games: Russell Wilson, Seahawks offense keep rolling
Here are Arthur Arkush’s three quick takeaways from the Week 11 late afternoon action:
1. Anything Dak can do, Russell Wilson can do better? For the second week in a row, it certainly felt that way, as Wilson’s Seahawks made relatively easy work of the Eagles with the quarterback continuing his recent run of brilliance, prevailing 26-15.
Wilson’s two touchdowns — one throwing and one receiving — were of the dazzling variety. He escaped the pocket on third down, scrambling to his right and finding Jimmy Graham while throwing across his body and back into the middle of the field for an improbable 35-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Seattle in the second quarter.
After Steven Hauschka extended the lead to 17-7 in the third quarter, Wilson flipped to Doug Baldwin in the backfield, who tossed back to his quarterback on a wheel route for a 15-yard touchdown to bury Philadelphia.
Indeed, the Seahawks offense, which has averaged more than 29 points during its three consecutive victories, is having fun now. Thomas Rawls returned to bring a power dimension to the run game alongside C.J. Prosise, who showed off his game-breaking ability on an early 72-yard scoring burst prior to exiting with a shoulder injury.
Defensively, Seattle for the second consecutive week received a spark from Kam Chancellor, who skied for one of two Carson Wentz interceptions and tipped another pass on third down while blitzing.
Chancellor and Wilson look healthy, a big part of Seattle’s recent success, but other injuries were the rub on a big victory.
In addition to Prosise, Earl Thomas (hamstring), DeShawn Shead and No. 3 RB Troymaine Pope exited early with injuries. Rawls, playing for the first time since Week Two, was the only healthy back to finish Sunday, when Seattle had its best rushing day of the season.
Wilson’s Seahawks and Prescott’s Cowboys are the two hottest and most complete teams in the NFC, seemingly headed on a postseason collision course.
2. Seattle’s RB injuries pale in comparison to the Eagles’, who lost both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles early. Philadelphia also lost LT Jason Peters, likely in addition to any remaining shred of patience it had in 2015 first-round receiver Nelson Agholor.
Agholor, in a two series sequence in a one-score game in the first half, took a 75-yard Zach Ertz touchdown off the board because he failed to line up properly. Then, Agholor dropped a perfect 25-yard strike from Wentz over the middle before having a seat on the bench.
Wentz didn’t respond well, beginning to force deep throws after intermission that led to both Seattle picks. The Eagles’ receiver corps is so bad Wilson’s receiving touchdown set off a chorus of Twitter jokes about how he’d be Wentz’s top target if he was in Philadelphia.
It’s obvious skill talent will top Howie Roseman’s offseason wish list, and though there’s no shame in falling in Seattle, Roseman’s club, now at 5-5 and in the NFC East basement, are close to falling out of the postseason picture.
3. The Dolphins did nothing right for the first three-and-a-half quarters in Los Angeles. Ryan Tannehill, riding a turnover-free streak of four games, begged the Rams to pick him off on multiple occasions (they obliged just once). Miami’s pumped-up pass rush during its four-game win streak largely failed to corral Jared Goff in his NFL debut.
Then the entire team pushed Jarvis Landry into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with just more than four minutes left, capping a 77-yard drive to make it 10-7. The defense quickly got Tannehill the ball back and he started dialing up DeVante Parker, who punctuated the game-winning 75-yard drive with just 36 ticks remaining.
Just like that, Adam Gase’s Dolphins improved to 6-4 with a win over a rookie QB they won’t apologize for. With Parker (8-79-1) heating up and Miami’s defensive acquisitions, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, continuing to make a major impact, don’t discount the Dolphins in a crowded AFC wild-card picture just yet.
Say this much for Jared Goff in his NFL debut: he protected the football, extended a few plays, and drives, in critical moments with his legs and took just one sack against Ndamukong Suh, Cam Wake and a dangerous Miami D-line. Goff also averaged just 4.32 yards per attempt and was clearly off his game early in the rain. But he avoided trouble and isn’t to blame for Los Angeles’ ugly defeat. That falls squarely on Jeff Fisher, who, rookie QB or not, went into a shell late and played not to lose.
Forget the playoffs. The Rams now must win five of their final six games to avoid .500, which Fisher of course knows best. There were a lot of empty seats at the Coliseum. Fisher has gone to his final ace in the hole by elevating Goff. Stan Kroenke has a decision to make on whether Fisher and his staff are the right ones to elevate Goff and the offense to something respectable.