Russell Wilson, Seahawks Smack Jags
SEATTLE -- After just 2 1/2 quarters, Russell Wilson traded his helmet for a baseball cap. Earl Thomas turned his attention to the NFL scoreboard and took note that the rest of the NFC West lost.
"I was fired up we played just the way we should," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "A lot of people expected and asked questions about letdowns and all that type of stuff, and we didn't see it that way at all."
Wilson matched his career high with four touchdown passes -- two each to Sidney Rice and Zach Miller -- and the Seahawks overwhelmed the Jaguars 45-17 on Sunday. Seattle improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2006, beginning a stretch of four straight games against the AFC South.
The Seahawks came in as 19-point favorites and never gave Jacksonville (0-3) a chance. Wilson connected with Miller twice in the first 16 minutes on TDs of 1 and 4 yards. He hit Rice for an 11-yard TD late in the first half and found him again on a 23-yarder early in the third quarter.
Wilson checked out with 3:54 left in the third and finished 14 of 21 for 202 yards. The four TD passes matched his performance last December in a win over San Francisco.
The blowout allowed Seattle the chance to test its depth with some of its younger reserves getting their first shot at the regular season. Seattle's offense finally showed the potency that made the Seahawks so dangerous at the end of 2012. It was a focus for Carroll this week to clean up the offense.
"We stayed away from the dumb mental mistakes, the dumb penalties and we made the most of our opportunities through the air," Seattle's Doug Baldwin said.
Wilson wasn't perfect. He was sacked by Johnathan Cyprien and fumbled in the first half and made the mistake of throwing across his body and was intercepted at his 11 in the third quarter. But it was a far better performance overall by Seattle's offense than in the first two weeks.
No drive was better than the final possession of the first half. Linebacker Bobby Wagner had just made a juggling, diving interception at his own 21 with 44 seconds left in the half, and the Seahawks got aggressive.
Wilson found Golden Tate twice, hit Rice for 23 yards, and scrambled for another 10. Wilson then capped the half with a dart to Rice for an 11-yard TD, finishing off a drive that covered 79 yards in just 34 seconds and gave Seattle a 24-0 halftime lead.
"That was the biggest drive we've had all season, so far," Wilson said. "That's the thing, we have to be able to do that. ... To be able to do that and score in 34 seconds, that crucial."
Carroll said he was aggressive because of the job Seattle's defense was doing, a unit that got healthier with the return of defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner. Clemons played for the first time since sustaining a major knee injury in the playoffs.
"The biggest thing was just trusting in my work, trusting in the rehab and everything I've been doing, so I felt pretty good about it," Clemons said.
The Seahawks forced Jacksonville into three turnovers. They sacked Jacksonville Chad Henne four times, and Maurice Jones-Drew, playing with an injured ankle, was limited to 43 yards on 19 carries. Jacksonville spent the first quarter in negative total yardage and didn't crack the 100-yard mark until 8:30 left in the third quarter.
The Jaguars found the end zone for the second time this season when Jones-Drew scored on a 2-yard run.
"It was tough to move the ball early. Their defensive line did a good job, their front seven," Henne said.
Miller's first TD came when Wilson duped the entire stadium with a perfect play-action fake for the 1-yard TD. Wilson found Miller early in the second quarter when he pirouetted away from the pass rush for a 14-0 lead.
Wilson's final TD came early in the second half when he lofted a pass into the end zone, and Rice cut in front of a defender to haul in the TD. Baldwin also made a diving, one-handed 35-yard touchdown catch from Tarvaris Jackson after Wilson departed. Jackson also had a 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Source: Associated Press