Doug Baldwin gets my game ball this week and there are several obvious reasons, but first, let's talk about the runner-ups.
I came close to choosing Charlie Whitehurst simply because he led the Seahawks on their go-ahead, ultimately game-winning drive with under three minutes remaining. He didn't have a strong showing before that but I think you can rationally throw out the first few series for a guy that comes off the bench cold in that situation. Fine.
But, Baldwin still shined more than Charlie.
I considered both Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas because they're both such playmakers. I almost chose John Ryan again because he has been nails. Here are his punts:
J.Ryan punts 62 yards to NYG 9, Center-C.Gresham. A.Ross to NYG 14 for 5 yards (J.Konz).
J.Ryan punts 43 yards to NYG 21, Center-C.Gresham. A.Ross to NYG 28 for 7 yards (A.Bigby).
(J.Ryan punts 48 yards to end zone, Center-C.Gresham, Touchback.
J.Ryan punts 38 yards to NYG 30, Center-C.Gresham, out of bounds.
J.Ryan punts 48 yards to NYG 5, Center-C.Gresham, downed by SEA-R.Sherman.
J.Ryan punts 35 yards to NYG 5, Center-C.Gresham, downed by SEA-K.Cox.
J.Ryan punts 38 yards to NYG 17, Center-C.Gresham, fair catch by A.Ross.
The key takeaways from those numbers are the final three - downed at the five twice and once at the 17. The two punts to the five yard line were in the 3rd quarter and it's no coincidence that the Seahawks shut the Giants out in that frame. The punt to the 17 came later in the fourth and put the Giants deep in their end. All in all, another solid, solid game from the Seahawks punter.
Now, back to Baldwin.
His final line: 8 receptions on 9 targets. 136 yards. 17.0 yards per catch. One very important touchdown. If you look past the stats, you see a guy that's making catches and getting lit up. Baldwin is one tough son of a bitch. He's finding the open zones in the defense and getting key first downs.
As Hawkblogger pointed out yesterday, "Doug Baldwin is 4th in the NFL in explosive plays (20+ yards). Higher than Larry Fitz, Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson..." with 9 of those plays. Only Steve Smith, Wes Welker, and Jimmy Graham have more. And we thought that Sidney Rice would be our deep threat (he still is, which makes Baldwin that much more exciting).
More impressive than these numbers though is how Baldwin gets them. He caught one pass for the go-ahead, eventually game-winning touchdown. He caught seven other passes apart from that one.
Five of those seven catches were for a first down.
In other words, he's clutch. And this isn't the first game he's proven this. For all these reasons, he gets my respect, and my game ball. Congrats Dougie Fresh, I'm glad you're a Seahawk. (Also, thank you John Schneider, for being awesome.)
Vote for Doug as the NFL Rookie of the Week right here. Please.