The Seattle Seahawks let Russ cook. The New England Patriots let Cam run.
Popular strategies resulted in victories in the opening week of the NFL season, and now the perennial powers meet in Week 2 on Sunday night in Seattle.
Wilson earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after guiding the Seahawks to a 38-25 win at Atlanta. He completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for a team-high 29 yards. Wilson’s 88.6 completion percentage was a franchise record and the third-best mark in league history for a quarterback attempting at least 35 passes.
Wilson also joined Hall of Famer Steve Young as the only QBs in league history to pass for more than 30,000 yards while rushing for more than 4,000 in their careers.
“Let Russ cook,” became a familiar offseason refrain in Seattle, as players, media and fans alike prodded Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to open up the run-heavy offense and let Wilson take more control.
“What we’ve been doing in practice showed up,” Carroll said. “Russ has been extraordinary in fall camp. He had a great summer throwing the ball to everybody and he had perhaps his best throwing day, numbers wise, just about as you could have … Russ was in total command of the game and had a beautiful game.”
The Patriots won their first game in the post-Tom Brady era. New England beat the visiting Miami Dolphins 21-11 as Newton rushed 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 155 yards. It was the most carries and yards rushing by a Patriots quarterback since Bill Belichick arrived in New England in 2000.
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP who signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal in July after weeks of sitting without interest, showed little or no rust despite playing just two games because of injury in 2019. It was his final season in a nine-year run with Carolina that included four surgeries in the past three years.
“It was relatively picking up right where I remember the game to be,” Newton said. “I think it was just a feeling-through process as well with (the coaching staff) … to understand what they have. We made the adjustments and we executed.”
Newton said he hopes the victory will be a glimpse of the “new normal” with him behind center in New England.
“I think it’s time for everybody, including myself, to realize this is what it’s like. I think it came full circle,” he said. “For me to just kind of realize that I’m a New England Patriot and I’m just going to embrace this whole moment.”
There’s a possibility Newton will need to run more out of necessity this week. Wide receivers Julian Edelman (knee) and N’Keal Harry (shoulder) were limited in Wednesday’s practice.
Belichick said giving Newton so many opportunities to run Week 1 was by design. The quarterback’s record when he’s carried 10 or more times in a game is 25-7-1.
“Everything we’ve done for the last 20 years, and rightfully so, has been for Tom Brady,” Belichick said. “Everything was dedicated to him, other than the games that he didn’t play in. … So, there were times when we had to plan differently, but when your starting quarterback has things that he’s good at or things that you can take advantage of, then I think you try to take advantage of them.”
As impressive as Wilson’s performance was, it might have been equaled by Jamal Adams’ debut.
The All-Pro safety, acquired in an offseason trade with the New York Jets, had 12 tackles, including two for losses, and a sack in bringing back memories of the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary. By official count, the Seahawks blitzed Adams 10 times, the kind of strategy that could set up a few collisions between the heat-seeking safety and the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Newton.
“He has brought the energy. He has brought the focus and I think that we are going to have a really great defense,” Wilson said. “That secondary looked really good.”
Wilson might have another weapon at his disposal Sunday as wide receiver Philip Dorsett II returned to practice after missing the opener with a foot injury. Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder) remains questionable.
Belichick’s weekly news conference was postponed Wednesday after the death of his mother, Jeannette, at age 98 Monday from natural causes.
The Patriots are 4-3 all-time in Seattle and last played there in 2012. New England left with a 24-23 loss.
Carroll is 2-1 all-time against the New England franchise he coached prior to Belichick’s arrival, with his only loss coming in the Super Bowl XLIX heartbreaker in Glendale, Ariz.