JENSEN: Bears’ vaunted defense fails to fluster Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago, 12/02/12 The Seahawks Russell Wilson drops back to pass in the first quarter against the Bears in Soldier Field December 2, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Marshawn Lynch isn’t easily impressed, so he patiently considered the question posed to him as he dressed in the visitors’ locker room at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Which play by Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson impressed him the most?
Lynch had plenty of options, given the brilliance and poise Wilson displayed throughout the Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime victory over the Bears.
◆ A 49-yarder to former Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate on third-and-six late in the second quarter.
◆ Or any number of plays on a 12-play, 97-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, during which he gained 19 yards on two runs and completed 6 of 9 passes for 80 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to Tate.
◆ Or any number of plays on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in overtime, during which he gained 28 yards on three runs and completed all three of his passes for 38 yards, including the game-winner to Sidney Rice.
“[Expletive], all of them,” Lynch said when asked to pinpoint a specific play by Wilson that stood out in his mind. “All of them.”
The Bears’ third-ranked defense is breaking and threatening a litany of records, mostly based on takeaways. But it couldn’t get any from Wilson, a third-round pick out of Wisconsin who baffled the Bears with read-option plays and clutch passes.
The Bears’ defense conceded a season-high 459 yards, with Wilson completing 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns and sprinting for 71 yards on nine carries. That Lynch, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, also averaged 4.6 yards per carry only contributed to its struggles.
“Defensively, we didn’t get it done,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We had opportunities to make some plays there late.”
The Bears sacked Wilson twice, but they missed on several other occasions. Wilson also thrived when the Bears designated rookie Shea McClellin to act as a “spy” against him.
But Wilson had a simple message to his coaches in the second half.
“The read option is wide open pretty much,” Wilson recalled.
Asked about big plays generated out of the read option, McClellin said, “I really don’t know. We have to go look at the film and see what we did there.”
Wilson is a two-way threat, something he showcased in 2011, when he led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth and set the school season record for passing efficiency.
He had some decent runs before Sunday, but his 71 rushing yards against the Bears were a season-high.
“What he’s able to do, running the ball, really helps us out and creates some pretty unique opportunities for us,” Seahawks center Max Unger said.
There appeared to be only two “rookie mistakes.”
As he was being pressured by end Israel Idonije, Wilson released an errant pass deep in the middle of the field.
Safety Major Wright had a line on the ball but couldn’t make the play with Rice switching to defender. In overtime, the Seahawks were flagged for a delay-of-game penalty.
Wilson always persevered, which his teammates have come to expect.
“He’s shown that composure all season and even back in college,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “When it was tight games, he was never shook.”
Afterward, Wilson coolly slipped into his suit, then fulfilled his media obligations.
“It was a blast out there,” Wilson said without much emotion.
Lynch expects more from Wilson.
“With him still learning, I know there’s still more to come,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”
The Seahawks (7-5) are counting on him.