Wilson is what makes the Seahawks special
October, 18, 2013
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRussell Wilson didn't let his fumbles get him down, and ended up with three TD passes and the win.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Russell Wilson fumbled three times Thursday night and lost two of them, which resulted in 10 points for the Arizona Cardinals.
If that’s what you take away from his performance, you’ve greatly missed the point. You just have to see it to believe it.
Despite constant pressure that caused Wilson to take a beating, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback was remarkable once again in leading his team to a 34-22 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Wilson threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions, completing 18 of 29 throws for 235 yards and ending the night with a 122.1 passer rating. And while those numbers won’t wow anyone -- Wilson is not going to put up the gaudy stats of a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees -- he is going to do whatever it takes to win.
“It’s an honor to play alongside him,” Seattle receiver Golden Tate said about Wilson. “He’s grown tremendously. I’m very proud of him. He’s such a dangerous quarterback with his speed and his arm. He’s definitely our leader.”
Yes, Wilson has a lot of help. He plays on one of the best teams in the NFL. His running back, Marshawn Lynch, rushed for a rugged 91 yards and dragged would-be tacklers down the field at times.
His receivers made huge plays -- a leaping touchdown grab by tight end Zach Miller, a touchdown and a drive-saving scoop-catch by Sidney Rice and 77 receiving yards for Tate. And the Seattle defense had a season-high seven sacks along with two interceptions.
Wilson, as always, gave his teammates all of the credit. He praised Rice for getting open consistently and said it was huge to have Miller back. Of Lynch, he asked, “Can anybody be any tougher?”
Yes, one man can. Wilson is the guy who makes this team special, the one player who each week overcomes every obstacle placed in front of him.
“Russell does what he does,’’ Rice said. “He extends plays, gets outside the pocket and gets first downs. He just makes plays happen.”
The last time Wilson played in this stadium was the first game of his NFL career, a 20-16 loss in last season's opener. He is 18-6 since that day.
“I think I’ve grown so much since then,” Wilson said. “And our football team has grown, too. We’re just trying to be the best team every week.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll marvels at what he sees from Wilson.
“I don’t know what we would do without him,” Carroll said. “We would be a much different team. I don’t know how you can measure it at this point. He has become such a special aspect of our team. He’s instrumental to everything we do.”
There might not be another player in the NFL whose statistical numbers are less reflective of how much he does and how well he does it. Wilson consistently makes the key play that keeps a drive alive and puts points on the scoreboard.
Here are just two examples from Thursday night:
On their first possession, the Seahawks had a first down at the Arizona 31-yard line. Wilson was pressured out of the pocket, something that happens most of the time with an offensive line that's missing both starting tackles. Wilson rolled to his right but was running backward to avoid the defenders chasing him. Nevertheless, he let fling a perfect pass downfield to a streaking Rice, who made the catch near the sideline for a touchdown.
Try that sometime -- while running backward, throw the ball 40 yards forward right to where it needs to be.
But that wasn’t Wilson's most athletic play of the night. That came on a third-and-3 at the Arizona 48 when Seattle held a slim 17-13 lead in the third quarter. Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington chased down Wilson, who had scrambled to his left. Washington had him. Wilson was going down. But a split second before he hit the turf, Wilson somehow shoved a pass to Miller for a 6-yard gain and a first down to keep a touchdown drive alive.
“That was a huge play,” said Arizona coach Bruce Arians. “Most quarterbacks, the referee would have blown that down. But Wilson is such a great athlete that the referee let him continue playing.”
Wilson was sacked three times Thursday, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the punishment he took from the Cardinals' defensive line. Officially, Arizona had nine quarterback hits, and Wilson also was knocked flat on his back by defensive end Calais Campbell on a failed fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak.
The Cardinals knocked the ball out of Wilson's hands three times, recovering it twice. One came at the Seattle 5-yard line, setting up a touchdown. Another led to an Arizona field goal.
Wilson never wavered. He never became flustered. He never does. He gets up, shakes it off and comes right back at you every time.
“Russell is always accountable,” Tate said. “He comes out the next series ready to sling it. He didn’t let those turnovers affect the way he plays.”
Tate stopped and shook his head, then said: “You just have to admire him.”