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Updated Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 03:16 PM

Wilson gets chance to see how far he's come as a quarterback

By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter

There may not be a second chance to make a first impression, but Seattle will get its first chance at redemption against Arizona on Sunday.

This was the team the Seahawks faced in the season opener three months ago. That was back when the city was divided on whether Russell Wilson should be the starting quarterback, Seattle's offense was conservative enough to be mistaken for a red state and the Seahawks ran seven plays inside Arizona's 20-yard line in the final minute only to wind up 4 yards short of the game-winning touchdown.

How far have the Seahawks come since then? We'll see on Sunday.

"It will be a good comparison," coach Pete Carroll said.

And a good way to start the final quarter of Seattle's schedule, which features three rematches against NFC West opponents, all to be played at CenturyLink Field. For the first time this season, Wilson prepared for an opponent he has faced before. That doesn't mean he's the same, though.

"I have 12 times the experience," Wilson said.

That game in Arizona was a starting point for Wilson, and he spent most of that afternoon fleeing from a pass rush that was simply unrelenting. Not only was Seattle starting a rookie at right guard in J.R. Sweezy, but he was a converted defensive tackle. The Cardinals' pass pressure poured up the gut of Seattle's offensive line.

The Seahawks got the ball inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line four times in that game yet scored only a single touchdown.

It set the tone for the first third of Seattle's season, the Seahawks failing to score 20 points in four of their first five games. That season opener also gave Wilson a pretty good idea of the fourth-quarter nail-biters that have been a constant in this Seahawks season.

"That first game helped me improve," Wilson said, "helped me win some games at the end of the game, throughout the season so far."

Wilson has led three game-winning drives since that season opener, and Seattle has scored more than 20 in each of the past five games. Now comes this measuring stick of a game against an opponent the Seahawks have already faced.

"I'm excited to see," receiver Golden Tate said. "That was Game 1, and watching that game even just in film, I can see how much better we are, how much more disciplined we are and how we've grown as an offense and as a whole team.

"It's going to be exciting. It's going to be a hard-fought game as expected."

Don't snicker. The Cardinals are 4-8, having lost eight in a row, but Arizona's defense is anything but a pushover. Not only have the Cardinals allowed the seventh-fewest points in the league, they have forced 27 turnovers, fourth-most in the league.

Back in Week 1, the Seahawks had 139 yards passing, and Wilson completed just one pass for more than 20 yards.

On Sunday, he'll have a chance to show just how much he — and the rest of Seattle's offense — has improved since that opener.

"The first time out I wish I could have done something just to win that game there at Arizona," Wilson said. "Now we're playing at home, playing at CenturyLink the second go-around at it, so we'll have to figure out what we did well, what we didn't do so well, figure out what they did really well, and figure out how we can attack them."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil


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