At some point in the overtime period of Sundays instant-classic NFC Championship rodeo between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, Russell Wilson started thinking basketball and said, “Enough of the head fakes, it’s time to go up for a dunk and end this game.”
Russell Wilson entered the game as the highest-rated playoff passer in NFL history and became the second QB with four picks to win an NFC Championship Game. In the end, the picks were just a prelude to typical Wilson dramatics and only adds to his legend.
Emotionally-stunned fans will undoubtedly trash the Packers with choking allegations, and some non-believers will focus on the picks. They’re still seeing the math funny when it comes to understanding the superiority and spectacular audacity and undeniable eliteness of Wilson.
Check the real stats. He had a total QBR in the game of 13.6 but it ballooned to over 90 in the decisive 4th-quarter and thrilling overtime.
Check the scoreboard. It’s another Seattle victory and nobody pulled Wilson across the finish line. As usual, when it came time for him to (in the sharp and uniquely-scripted words of Rapper Nas), “eff wit’ ya' soul like ether”, Wil the Chill did it with precision and confidence.
Wilson led Seattle on 2 scoring drives late in the 4th quarter to erase a 19-7 deficit. After a 1-yard TD run by Wilson cut the lead to 19-14, the Seahawks recovered an onside kick just before the 2-minute warning. Three plays later, Marshawn Lynch took it in from 24 yards out for Seattle’s first lead (22-19) after the 2-point conversion.
By the time Wilson’s 35-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse in overtime gave Seattle a 28-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers, nobody was talking about interceptions anymore.
The chatter was about the QB marvel that we have been blessed to witness the past two seasons. Wilson, the diminutive dynamo who helped Seattle overcome a 16-0 halftime deficit, the largest in championship game history.
The Packers must have forgotten who the signal caller opposite Aaron Rodgers was. He’s a record breaker and a hit maker of historical proportions. Wilson also improved to 26-2 at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have not lost a postseason game in a decade.
He’s the anti-Peyton Manning. Wilson doesn’t live in a world of excess. Excess passing yards, excess offense. He is frugal with his extravagance, but still manages to shock and amaze with a subtle flamboyance. Some would even say he’s quickly becoming this eras Joe Montana. It's another title he can snatch from the New England Patriots' iconic QB Tom Brady by defeating the three-time Super Bowl champ in a head-to-head matchup in two weeks.
It could be a changing of the guard of sorts. Wilson’s game reminds me of Montana’s and Brady’s—especially early in their careers before they were battle-tested enough to really elevate their aerial games. They weren’t “game managers” in the Trent Dilfer sense, but they played on well-balanced offenses that didn’t put the burden of the responsibility on the quarterback—until the game was on the line. Then those QB’s would run into the booth and transform into whatever it took for their teams to win. Now the old-school pigskin slinger and the new-age victory viper—the NFL’s two quintessential winning QB’s—will shoot it out for NFL supremacy.
Seattle will face the Pats (who crushed the Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game) on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona. Wilson's in the plush position to notch back-to-back Super Bowl titles, a feat that Brady and New England were the last to accomplish in 2003 and 2004.
The always lethal and reliable combination of Wilson and Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch— who was his usual playoff-potent self with 157 yards rushing—proved to be the winning formula that Green Bay eventually couldn’t contain. Lynch’s only score gave Seattle its first lead of the day.
At that point, the tide had officially turned and the inevitability of a Seattle win and a RW crunchtime crackdown was apparent.
However, Rodgers, who was rather pedestrian with 178 yards 1 TD and two picks, led the Packers (13-5) to Mason "Money" Crosby's fifth field goal, from 48 yards with 14 seconds to go to knot the game at 22-22, setting up the dramatic overtime sequence.
Seattle won the toss and never relinquished the rock to Green Bay, which failed to capitalize on Seattle’s ineptitude all day. Even with star-studded, Beats-By-Dre-over-dreads-rockin' cornerback Richard Sherman playing with one arm for most of the second half, the Packers offense could only muster one TD. Wilson typically saved his best for last going 3-for 3 for 80 yards and a TD on final drive.
The Packers were outplaying Seattle on both sides of the ball for most of the contest. On this day, Green Bay displayed the massacring characteristics typically found in Seattle's league-leading D; they were hitting harder and more tenaciously. The Cheesehead D was the unit swarming and swiping and applying vicious hits that some would consider illegal. On offense, Rodgers wasn’t exactly performing epically but he was much more effective in capitalizing on two early Seahawks turnovers.
Then, just as the game seemed to be slipping away, HC Pete Carroll flexed his coaching muscle and contributed to the comeback. Carroll is Wilson’s most avid supporter and fan. He’s the man that had the insight and perception to draft a third-round, 5-foot-11 QB who was doubted from the door, and then make him the starter. Then ride him to NFL immortality.
Carroll emphatically said “That’s my guy” and whoever doesn’t like it can jump off a bridge. Wilson keeps proving Carroll a genius, and to be fair, as the legend of Russell Wilson grows, so should the cache, props and legacy of Carroll.
They are the No. 1 Coach-QB combo in the NFL right now and they defended their title with the rarest of resilience, grit and a bit of luck. Every dynasty needs some luck along the way. Ask Tom Brady. If not for the Tuck rule some close-minded haters say that Brady would never have gone on to win his three rings.
Carroll’s gutsy special teams calls (a fake punt and pass to an eligible offensive lineman for the first TD and a successful onside kick with about two-minutes left ) put his squad in a position to pull off the impossible. Wilson’s unflappable steez did the rest.
The NFL analysts were as stunned as everyone else with the turn of events. Troy Aikman, a back-to-back Super Bowl-winning QB in his own right with Dallas in the 90s, said Seattle’s win “is as improbable a win as I’ve ever witnessed.”
And the receivers who had so many problems holding onto the ball all day because maybe Wilson was a little too heavy handed or not finessed enough, came through and hauled in two perfectly- thrown balls, instantly erasing the memories of their early-game futility and adopting the contagious personality of their leader.
An emotional Russell Wilson was crying as he gave his testimony to Erin Andrews on the field after the dramatic win.
“This team is unbelievable,” Wilson wailed. “We fight and fight over and over again. Four minutes left in the game…three minutes… four interceptions and we keep playing. The guys just kept believing in me.”
Even when Clay Mathews Jr. nearly took his head off and the Packers were swarming him like loose tissue in a toilet bowl full of manure and twitter morphed into sheepish haters ready to rip Seattle’s stagnant offense a new one—mighty mouse stayed “cool as the other side of the pillow” (RIP Stu Scott).
Wilson is a human stimulus package who has gotten Seattle fans spoiled by his ability to bail em’ out of potential ruin. This go round, he not only led them to safety, but into a five star hotel with all of the amenities known as Super bowl XLIX.