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Tuesday, October 30, 2012
QBR ranks: Wilson, Smith near front of line

By Mike Sando

The Seattle Seahawks ditched their usual run-first formula on offense against the Detroit Lions in Week 8.

Seattle dropped back to pass 35 times and handed off to running backs 17 times. The Seahawks took this approach by design. After all, they were leading or tied for more than 53 minutes. It wasn't like they were forced into catch-up mode for long stretches.

The Seahawks dropped back to pass seven times on their first nine plays. Then came three runs in four plays, with the final rush springing Marshawn Lynch for a 77-yard touchdown run. By all appearances, the Seahawks used the pass to set up the run, and they did it on the road with a rookie quarterback.

This was a new test for Russell Wilson. He proved ready for the challenge on this day.

Wilson completed 71.4 percent of his passes, staked his team to an early lead and led his offense 87 yards to the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.  Wilson took zero sacks. He made no errors in setting protections or changing plays at the line of scrimmage, according to coach Pete Carroll.

Detroit scored the winning touchdown in the final minute to prevent Seattle from fully enjoying Wilson's performance. This was clearly a step forward for Wilson, however. He finished the game with a career-best 93.7 out of 100 in Total QBR, the metric ESPN developed to measure quarterback play beyond traditional passing stats. Only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan scored higher among NFL quarterbacks in Week 8. The San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith was right behind.

With that, let's take a look at how NFC West passers graded out for Week 8 in relation to Total QBR, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info):
The chart below shows how quarterbacks from games involving NFC West teams fared in Total QBR for Week 8, provided they played enough to qualify for inclusion.

The column showing point above average reveals the "number of points contributed by a quarterback over the season, accounting for QBR and how much he plays, above the level of an average quarterback."