RENTON, Wash. (AP) Seattle's offense is no longer easy to solve.
Defenses once had a simple answer for shutting down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense but changes in recent month have made the unit worthy of even more headlines than the prolific defense.
Wilson and the Seahawks are on a three-week run that's been unmatched in his time as a pro, as Seattle has shown it can do more than just run the ball. The Seahawks are explosive and potent, scoring from all over the field, whether it's Wilson throwing darts to Doug Baldwin or rookie Thomas Rawls bulling his way through the defense.
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The recent run of three straight wins on the back of its offense has quickly put Seattle into the conversation among the NFC favorites.
''When the answer to the riddle used to be make him leave the pocket and you got him, or keep him in the pocket and you got him, or contain him, just keep him in there and you've got him solved. When that's not the answer anymore, it's a really dangerous offense,'' cornerback Richard Sherman said. ''When he's standing there confidently and delivering strikes to your receivers, you start to understand how dynamic our offense really is.''
Since the bye week in early November, Seattle's offense has gone from sometimes being unable to get out of its own way to an efficient group capable of carrying the Seahawks to a victory. Just look at two weeks ago when Seattle beat Pittsburgh 39-30 on a day the Seahawks gave up 456 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger. They won thanks to five TD passes from Wilson. It's the kind of game Seattle never won previously with Wilson at quarterback.
''They're performing the way that we think that we're capable of, the way that we talked coming into the season that we thought we were capable of,'' Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.
The last three weeks have been a stretch of efficiency not seen in Seattle since Wilson's rookie season when the zone-read became an aspect of the offense and opponents struggled to adjust. If not for two missed extra points against San Francisco, the Seahawks would be on a run of scoring 30 or more points in four straight games for only the second time in franchise history, the last coming in 1986.
Wilson has returned to being the distributor - a point guard for Seattle's offense. While he's still required to improvise at times, the way Seattle's offense functions is more systematic.
Over the past three games, Wilson is 66 of 86 for 879 yards with 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 148.2. The idea of being a game manager is out the door. With four good games to close the regular season, he has a chance to be the first 4,000-yard passer in franchise history.
And it's a complete turnaround from where Seattle was earlier in the season when Wilson was running for safety behind a shaky offensive line that was on pace to give up more than 70 sacks and the Seahawks could not regularly convert on third down .
''We weren't that far off,'' Wilson said.
So what changed?
There are a handful of factors, starting with Wilson having better protection and more time to throw from the pocket. Seattle moved to Patrick Lewis as its starting center and Justin Britt has become better at left guard after playing right tackle all of last season.
There's also the timing of Seattle's offense. The pass plays have become shorter and crisper, getting the ball out of Wilson's hand sooner and letting his wide receivers do the bulk of the work. Of his 66 completions over the past three games, 53 of those have been behind the line of scrimmage or less than 10 yards.
All that passing success is set up by a run game that hasn't fallen off even with Marshawn Lynch out due to an abdominal injury that required surgery. Rawls' running style has fit with this offensive line and he's averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
It's adding up to an electric offense that's tough to stop.
''I can't get all excited about nothing, because we've got another game this week and we have to see if we do something good again,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ''But it's certainly moving in the right direction.''
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