By Associated Press • 

Seahawks back on track, top Eagles, 26-15

By BOB CONDOTTA

Of the Seattle Times

This was one time Pete Carroll didn’t try to hide anything.

The day after a defeat at New Orleans on Oct. 30, Carroll told the media he was confident the struggles of an offense that scored just one touchdown against the Saints wouldn’t last long.

Specifically, Carroll said with Russell Wilson getting healthier, so too would the Seattle offense begin to get more explosive.

“There will be some things that will look different,’’ Carroll said that day.

In the haze of that disappointing defeat, it was tempting to think that maybe this was just another attempt to look on the bright side from Perpetually Positive Pete.

But three games later, Carroll instead looks like Precisely Prescient Pete, his prediction having come through in almost stunning fashion.

As they did in victories over Buffalo and New England the past two weeks, the Seahawks used a bevy of big plays on offense to beat the Eagles 26-15 Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

They finished with a season-high 439 yards — the second consecutive week they gained a season high (420 last week against the Patriots).

Seattle had five plays of 20 yards or longer in the first half alone — consider that they had just two in five quarters at Arizona on Oct. 23 — in gaining 300 yards by halftime, also a season-best for a half.

The Seahawks also finished with a season-high 15.1 yards per reception and have averaged 13.9 yards per reception or better in the past three games after averaging better than that just once in the first seven games (14.0 against a 49ers team that entered the weekend last in the NFL in total defense).

Seattle had averaged 12.9, 9.4 and 10.8 yards per reception in the three games before the breakout against Buffalo — with the 12.9 against the Saints buffeted by a 43-yard gain on a trick play from Tanner McEvoy to C.J. Prosise.

Sunday, the Seahawks called another trick play — but this time it didn’t feel like a move made out of desperation.

Instead, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Doug Baldwin to Wilson in the third quarter just seemed like a fitting capper to a day when Wilson showed he’s pretty much past the injuries of the first half of the season.

“It was fun, man,’’ said Baldwin, who had never thrown a pass in an NFL game. “I’ve been begging for that play for the past two or three weeks and they doubted my arm, doubted that I could make the throw. So I’m glad I got to prove them wrong. … I just kind of chucked it up there and Russell made it look pretty.’’

Wilson made a few other plays look pretty as well, such as when he spun away from danger and found Jimmy Graham, who then shook off Eagles’ safety Jaylen Watkins for a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Or when he hit Baldwin and Tyler Lockett on consecutive passes of 44 and 30 yards in the second quarter.

Sunday, the Seahawks also added a few big running plays, the most obvious the 72-yard touchdown run by Prosise in the first quarter (though the fact Prosise will be out a while with a shoulder injury served as the one figurative dark cloud Sunday).

Reflecting on Seattle’s sudden proficiency at big plays, Carroll said: “Everything has shifted. You’ve seen us make shifts in the past. This is one of those big shifts for us. It’s really exciting to see. We feel very aggressive.’’

Recall that the Seahawks shifted a year ago at midseason to an offense featuring more quick-hitting passes and empty sets to try to mitigate the offensive line issues and take advantage of Wilson’s maturation as a passer.

This year, the shift came in part to take advantage of maybe the best set of receivers Seattle has had in the Wilson era, as well as Wilson finally getting healthy.

“I think it’s the mentality,” Wilson said. “We’re being a little bit more aggressive. I think I can move a little bit more so I can extend the play a little bit if it’s not there.’’

Last year, Seattle rode the offensive shift to a 6-2 second half that got them into the playoffs.

This year, Seattle has now won three in a row to take a three-game lead in the NFC West, with the only question about the postseason now appearing to be whether the Seahawks can overtake Dallas to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs come January.

As the offense has shifted, the defense — no longer forced to be on the field for an inordinate number of plays — has returned to form.

The Eagles had just one touchdown and 165 yards until tacking on a 66-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

“Russell was moving,’’ Carroll said. “So we’re kind of liking what it feels like and we’ll see if we can keep growing with it.’’

He resisted, for now, saying he’d told everyone he saw it coming all along.

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