C'mon, Russ! Wilson's 72 passing yards won't cut it in playoffs

SEATTLE -- By the numbers, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had the worst passing game of his career in Monday night's win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Wilson finished 10-of-20 for 72 yards with no touchdowns and an awful interception for a passer rating of 37.9. The yardage total and passer rating both ranked as the lowest of Wilson's 109 career games.

And yet, in the moments after the victory, Seattle coach Pete Carroll expressed no qualms with Wilson's performance.

"You're going to look at the numbers and see that Russ was 10-for-20, or something like that," Carroll said. "But when you add it all up, 42 runs and 10 completions, that's that 50 we're looking for, so it worked out just fine tonight."

Indeed, the Seahawks were able to overcome Wilson's struggles in the passing game with a stout defensive performance and a power running game. In fairness, Wilson's seven carries for 61 yards did help offset some of those problems and he was without top wideout Doug Baldwin.

But, as the Seahawks steam toward another postseason appearance and tougher defenses, they will need more from Wilson than what they got Monday night. According to Pro Football Reference, in the past 25 games in which a team has finished with 72 or fewer net passing yards (subtracting for yardage lost by sacks), those teams have won just twice.

Coincidentally, both of those victories belong to the Seahawks, but it's certainly not part of the recipe for postseason success when the intensity cranks up a notch.

After Monday's win, multiple Seahawks players talked about how they felt like this team had found its identity. That offensive identity is similar to the one that spurred the Seahawks to so much success in recent years, centered on a power run game.

"It just shows what we want to do," tackle George Fant said. "We want to play smash-mouth football, run the ball and not worry about what anybody thinks about it."

What's left unsaid there is what's required of Wilson. Now that the Seahawks have returned to their run-heavy roots, less is asked of Wilson as a passer. When Wilson was at his best in helping Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, it was never about quantity of passes so much as it was quality.

For Wilson, the magic number is eight. As in 8 yards per attempt.

In Wilson's 109 starts, he has posted an average of 8 yards per attempt or better in 50 games. Wilson's record in those games? 42-8. When he falls short of that mark, the record is 31-27.

For his career, Wilson is averaging 7.85 yards per pass attempt, which ranks second among all quarterbacks with more than 20 starts since he entered the league.

At the peak of the Seahawks' powers from 2012 to 2014 with Marshawn Lynch as the offensive focal point, Wilson averaged 7.95 yards per attempt on 26.1 throws per game. In those three postseasons, he averaged 9.01 yards per attempt on 25.3 passes, and the Seahawks went 6-2 with both losses coming by a combined six points.

Against the Vikings on Monday night, Wilson set a career low with an average of 3.6 yards per attempt. That dropped his season average from 8.33 to 8.06. It was also the first time this season Wilson has averaged under 6 yards per attempt.

As ESPN's Mike Sando pointed out on Twitter, Monday also was the first time in Wilson's career that he did not have a completion greater than 15 yards and that 16.4 percent of Wilson's career passes have gone for 16-plus yards. That includes a 16.2 percent mark this year; however, the two lowest-percentage games of Wilson's career also have been this season -- the Week 9 loss to the Chargers being the other.

Carroll said Tuesday he believed there were about five opportunities for Wilson to connect on deep balls but they just didn't work out for various reasons. Wilson saw the same, while noting Baldwin's absence.

"We had some chances down the field and unfortunately we weren't able to make them," Wilson said. "That was kind of how the game was throughout the game. But like I said, we continued to battle, we continued to make plays. Anytime you don't have Doug [Baldwin], Doug's a great player and you want him on the field. He's one of the best receivers in the National Football League."

Given Wilson's record of success, it's more than reasonable to expect him to bounce back, especially once Baldwin returns from a groin injury.

If Seattle's running game continues to roll as it did Monday and has for most of the year, Wilson won't want for big-play opportunities. But for the Seahawks to make a run in January, they'll need the Wilson they've come to know since he entered the league to show up when it's time to let it fly.