RENTON, Wash. — Of the four quarterbacks still playing on championship weekend, Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the outlier in terms of style.
Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers all have their quarterbacking foundations built around being pocket passers first. Luck and Rodgers — when healthy — both bring an element of mobility, but it’s not their forte.
Wilson? Well, good luck defining the way he operates.
“He doesn’t fit the mold of anything I thought previously would be a franchise quarterback. I think he still gets a lot of hate and discredit because we don’t throw the ball that often. However, what he’s asked to do in this offense he does it extremely well,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
Headed into Sunday’s NFC championship game against Green Bay, Wilson’s postseason achievements can’t be disputed even if he doesn’t fit any preconceived notions.
After six playoff games — five of them victories — Wilson has the highest passer rating in NFL history with a minimum of 150 attempts. Wilson’s mark of 109.6 is at the top. He’s one of five players in league history with a playoff passer rating of 100 or above. The others are: Rodgers, Bart Starr, Kurt Warner and Drew Brees.
“I think one of the things that definitely allows me to play well is the guys around me. I’ve got great guys around me, guys that want to work every day, guys that are devoted to being successful and no matter what it takes,” Wilson said. “I think that when you’re in those moments, you either live for them or you fall off.”
Last week saw Wilson at his finest. He needed just 22 pass attempts to throw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged more than 12 yards per pass attempt and threw two of the finest touch passes of his career. He dropped a 16-yard TD into the arms of Baldwin, letting go of the pass before Baldwin even made his break.
Then in the second quarter, Wilson stayed in the pocket and tossed a deep ball to Jermaine Kearse for a 63-yard touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 14-7 lead.
“For the most part he knows how to put touch on the ball and a lot of quarterbacks don’t know how to do that,” said Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who is part of Seattle’s radio broadcast team. “He knows how to make all the different throws. That ball to Jermaine Kearse is the best touch you’ll ever see.”
Wilson’s performance against Carolina also countered a season where his best games were not at home. In the regular season, Wilson threw six touchdowns and six interceptions at home versus 14 TDs and one interception on the road. The three touchdown passes were a new playoff best and the 268 yards passing his second-best. Wilson’s timing was crisp and his throws came in rhythm.
“He gets the advantage that he gives us and kind of the variety of ways that we throw the football,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It really adds to it, and he’s just kind of taken off with it, and it’s a beautiful part of our game as it starts to emerge.”
There’s also the matter of how Wilson plays when it matters most. He already owns 14 career comebacks in 54 regular-season and playoff games combined.
“Whenever I talk to him, that’s all he talks about, is living for those situations. I don’t know if it all started back in high school or whatever but he just loves the big time of a game. He wants the ball in his hands. I think he would rather be behind sometimes and have the ball in his hands and be able to go down the field and win the football game,” Moon said.
“With this team it’s not always like that, but he’s had as many comebacks as anyone in the game the short time he’s been in the game. He loves that. He loves those moments. Has he been successful on every one of them? No. Did Michael Jordan hit every game-winning shot? No. But he wins more of them than he loses, and that’s because he likes it and he lives for it.”