Rookies Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill Make Statement
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: November 26, 2012
In many Rookie Report Cards, I harped on the easy go of things Russell Wilson has had in his early successes. With the quality of Seattle's rushing attack and defense, he has been essentially tasked with not turning over the ball. The Seahawks have exercised responsible play calling that identifies and exploits Wilson's strengths, and his success in recent weeks has demonstrated as much. But defense has been Seattle's calling card this season, with a big, strong secondary making life miserable for receivers, as its defensive front has frustrated running backs and quarterbacks alike.
Until yesterday. Seattle's defense faded down the stretch, as Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill orchestrated an eighty yard touchdown drive in two minutes, 41 seconds with under eight minutes to play followed by a 64 yard field goal drive in the final minute and a half of the game. In those two drives, Tannehill failed to complete just one pass and even scrambled for a gain of fifteen on the final possession. It was a truly stellar late-game performance, something the quarterback has failed to exhibit in his young career.
Wilson, on the other hand, was unable to convert his two fourth quarter possessions, benefitting from a Leon Washington kick return for a touchdown as Seattle's lone late score. But Miami's defense, which had been all but declared missing in recent weeks, clamped down in the final fifteen minutes. By forcing two of Wilson's six incompletions in the game and executed four separate plays that resulted in negative yardage in Seattle's two final drives, Miami's defense set its rookie quarterback up to earn the win. Fourth quarter inadequacies aside, Wilson was once again the spitting image of offensive efficiency. He completed all but six of his passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He was spry on his feet as well; running back, with 46 meager rushing yards Marshawn Lynch earned just eight more than his quarterback's 38.
Between running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combining for 147 rushing yards with two touchdowns and a lockdown performance by Miami's running defense, it looked like the Dolphins were borrowing from the Seahawks' established recipe for rookie success. And, aside from an early interception, Tannehill played his part with perfection. He held onto the ball, made big plays when he needed to, and ultimately helped secure the Miami's first win in nearly a month. If it's able to duplicate such an overall team performance in the season's final five games, Miami may still not contend for a postseason berth, but it will certainly lay the groundwork for a productive offseason. Seattle, on the other hand, is still in the playoff hunt. But any repeats of yesterday's defensive meltdown (made all the more likely with imminent four game, PED-related suspensions for cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner) could ultimately leave the Seahawks on the outside looking in on the very competitive NFC playoff picture.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @KimOHaraTFG
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