TORONTO — Pete Carroll didn’t wait for someone to ask the question before accepting responsibility for the fake punt. It really was a bit much. Carroll will never be confused with the most charming men in sports, so it wasn’t as if he raced across the field after the game and apologized to Chan Gailey.
Carroll figured the fake punt, which came in the fourth quarter with the Seahawks holding a 47-17 lead, wouldn’t play well in public. He explained that it was an automatic audible in certain situations, and he failed to call it off. The idea was to make a first down and manage the clock, not kick sand in the Bills’ faces.
“It’s unfortunate that it comes across that we’re doing something wrong here,” Carroll said. “That’s my fault totally for not stopping it from happening.”
It might have been the only poor call the Seahawks had all afternoon in their 50-17 victory.
You know things are bad when the opposing coach is worried about running up the score. In truth, the Bills’ latest embarrassing defeat could have been much, much worse.
Carroll might not be atop your Christmas card list, but give him credit for his work with his rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson is up there with Andrew Luck and RG3 in an impressive crop of rookie passers. The Seahawks became the first team since 1950 to score 50 points in back-to-back games.
“It’s a blessing to play [in Seattle],” Wilson said. “It’s a pretty great situation for me.”
Wilson marched the Seahawks down the field on the opening series, which ended when he scooted 14 yards for a touchdown. He coasted into the end zone on a 25-yard run on the next possession, found Zach Miller wide open for another score and ran for a 13-yard TD. Yeah, you might say the kid had a good game.
But there were still 5½ minutes left in the first half.
Is it me or do teams have a knack for breaking records and reaching milestones against the Bills? Wilson became the first player in NFL history to rush for three touchdowns and pass for another in one half. He was a kid playing against men Sunday, but he looked more like a man playing against boys.
Wilson finished with 92 yards rushing, 205 yards passing and four touchdowns before taking a seat in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks are 9-5 and headed toward the playoffs with two games left. The Bills were knocked out of playoff contention for the 13th consecutive season.
The Bills could have had Wilson. The Seahawks took him in the third round of the draft, after the Bills traded up to take T.J. Graham. The book on him coming out of Wisconsin was that, at 5-foot-11, he was too short. He does measure up.
“It’s a credit to our GM, John Schneider, for taking him when he did,” Miller said. “He easily could have passed and said he’s too short. But he said, ‘This guy won in college. Why can’t he win in the NFL?’ He just continues to impress.”
That’s how general managers and coaches in other NFL cities improve their teams. The Seahawks were 7-9 last season, a record that should sound vaguely familiar to Bills’ fans, and needed a quarterback. They signed former Packers backup Matt Flynn as a free agent with the idea he would become the starter.
But they kept an open mind. They took Wilson and created a quarterback competition. He won the job in training camp, and now he’s winning over his skeptics. He was the best player on the field Sunday and led the Seahawks to 17 points on their first three possessions. The Bills continued banging their heads against the wall with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Basically, the Bills received what they richly deserved in their annual money-grab in Toronto. The fans might have felt sorry for them if they weren’t so busy laughing at the blooper reel playing out before them. Graham was among the many who contributed to the football follies with at least four dropped passes.
Buffalo took Graham with the idea he would become a deep threat. One problem: They didn’t have a quarterback who could throw deep. The Bills were so sold on Fitzpatrick that they didn’t even bother drafting a quarterback. Looking back, the decision was either inexcusably foolish or incredibly arrogant.
Keep that in mind when sprinkling blame across the organization. Good luck trying to figure out what Buddy Nix was thinking. Any chance he felt the need to eliminate the possibility someone would challenge Fitz after signing him to a six-year contract extension worth $62 million?
The Bills bungled their assessment of Fitzpatrick, plain and simple, and compounded the mistake by not grabbing a quarterback who would compete with him.
Fitzpatrick is a very intelligent person, a nice guy and good teammate who has absolutely no business starting in the NFL. At best, he’s a backup who could get a team through a game or two if it had a strong running game.
NFL backups must marvel when watching him play and wonder how a guy with his limited tools was granted such an opportunity. His days as a starter should be ending.
The Bills can’t keep selling Fitz and Gailey. Fitz and Gailey can’t keep selling the idea they’re making progress. If this season equates to progress, imagine their definition of decline. It was all on display amid Fitzpatrick throwing an interception on one series, fumbling the next, while Seattle took a 40-17 lead.
Seattle scored 50 points, but could have scored more. A penalty wiped out a punt return touchdown. Another TD was called back on video replay. The Seahawks settled for two short field goals.
It wasn’t enough for Gailey to summon Tyler Thigpen from the bullpen before the two-minute warning. Heaven forbid he would give Tarvaris Jackson the same opportunity he gave Fitzpatrick. Fitz hasn’t looked any better lately than Trent Edwards did at his worst.
On one play, Fitzpatrick threw an interception, raced across the field in an attempt to tackle Earl Thomas, whiffed and watched the free safety run through the Bills like they were little kids. After a while, it becomes comical.
Wilson had the last laugh.