Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson played, for the most part, an unspectacular game yesterday in frigid Minnesota conditions. But when the clock struck zero, his team was on top and advanced to face the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Wilson only completed 50% of his passes for a mere 142 yards. He also threw an interception, but the box score doesn’t tell the story of his gritty performance yesterday.
With one fourth-quarter series, Wilson showed why he is such a successful NFL QB. Seattle’s only touchdown drive of the game illuminated all of Wilson’s best qualities as a signal-caller.
First, he turned a disaster into the biggest play of the game. On first-and-10 at the 39-yard line, Wilson mishandled a quick snap. The football rolled 15 yards behind him and Vikings defenders pursued Wilson relentlessly.
“As soon as I got the ball, I looked up and said, ‘uh-oh,’” Wilson said of the oncoming pass-rush. “It was like a whole bunch of bears chasing me.”
Rather than safely fall on the ball and avoid a complete disaster, Wilson took a different approach. He eluded multiple defenders with his scrambling ability, and then used his poise to keep his eyes downfield.
He fired a perfect strike to rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who then managed to make his way all the way to the four-yard-line, a 35-yard gain on a broken play.
“The awareness, not only to get on the ball as quickly as possible, but also to look up to see if he could make a play.” said Seattle WR Doug Baldwin when asked about the most impressive aspect of the Wilson-Lockett connection.
“It’s a rare play,” said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. “But he does stuff like that, and we’ve kind of come to count on it.”
Two plays later, Wilson rolled to his right and zipped a pass to Baldwin for the only touchdown of the game. After three unremarkable quarters, Wilson changed the momentum of the game in Seattle’s favor with two passes.
That’s what a player like Russell Wilson does for a franchise. For some of the middle-of-the-pack franchises to take the next step, they need quarterbacks who can make plays when plays aren’t there. They need quarterbacks who stay calm under pressure and deliver in a game’s biggest moments.
Wilson may not be the biggest QB in terms of size, but not many QBs can make plays as big as the ones he made on Sunday. No matter what the circumstances are, Wilson does what it takes to win, and that is why he could be playing in his third Super Bowl come February.