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Originally published January 18, 2015 at 7:22 PM | Page modified January 18, 2015 at 10:53 PM

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Russell Wilson struggles, but ultimately shows he’s reaching a Super place

The struggles and tribulations merely acted to elevate the Russell Wilson legend to another level. They were the prelude to another round of heroics that helped put the Seahawks back in the Super Bowl, and Wilson higher up in the quarterback hierarchy.


Seattle Times columnist

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Russell Wilson didn’t even wait for the first question before audible-ing.

“The game started off kind of ugly, huh?” he asked the assembled media with a giggle.

So ugly, you could almost sense the Wilson doubters — and they’re definitely out there, despite his stellar body of work — waiting to pounce.

For three-plus quarters, Wilson was as bad as we’ve ever seen him. Off-kilter. Off-target. Discombobulated (probably more so after getting smacked by Clay Matthews following one of his four interceptions — a blow that caused Jermaine Kearse to say later, “Man, that was some hit, but he got up like a champ.”).

Wilson’s quarterback rating was sitting at zero at halftime, only because the formula doesn’t allow for negative numbers. Renowned for his ball protection, Wilson threw four interceptions in the game, all on passes intended for Kearse.

The famed Wilson magic that had carried him to a Super Bowl victory and through another sainted season appeared missing in action. Heck, the best pass of the game was thrown by Seattle’s punter. You could almost hear the chorus from the unconvinced: Still nothing more than a glorified game manager,

In the end, however, the struggles and tribulations merely acted to elevate the Wilson legend to another level. They were the prelude to another round of heroics that helped put the Seahawks back in the Super Bowl, and Wilson higher up in the quarterback hierarchy.

“If I was going to go down,” Wilson said of his ill-fated picks, “I was going to go down swinging.”

With the Seahawks trailing 19-7, and just 3:52 left — the very definition of desperation time, bordering on hopeless — Wilson suddenly morphed back into DangeRuss. His passes were crisp, leading to two touchdown drives that allowed the Seahawks to somehow take the lead.

After the second TD, he scrambled to find Luke Willson for a vital two-point conversion, causing Willson to say, “He’s the only person on the planet that makes that play.”

When Green Bay fought back to send the game into overtime, Wilson did his best work. Once Seattle won the toss, Wilson told offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, “I’m going to hit Kearse on a touchdown on a check.”

All game, he had been reassuring Kearse that despite the hiccups in their attempts at a connection — two ill-advised throws by Wilson into coverage, two balls off Kearse’s fingertips into the hands of Packer defenders — he was going to keep coming back to him.

And it all came to pass — Wilson throwing a 35-yarder to Doug Baldwin to get the ball to Green Bay’s 35, then seeing the man-to-man coverage he wanted, and checking off to a play they had worked on all week for just this moment.

“That’s Russell. Russell had to see that,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

“When you work on something for one week as much as we did that play, I kind of felt it would come to fruition at some point,’’ Willson said. “Storybook ending.”

Wilson lofted a perfect pass to Kearse, who snared it with Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams draped on him so tightly that he actually grabbed Kearse’s mouthpiece.

It was, Baldwin said, the perfect embodiment of the faith that permeates the Seahawks’ locker room. Both players had struggled all game, and yet they made the play, together, that sent Seattle to Glendale, Ariz.

“Russell, he knew what the situation was, and he trusted Jermaine to go up and get it,” Baldwin said. “What a lot of people don’t understand, especially those national pundits that sit behind desks, leaning on their names they made playing football when rules were little different: You’ve got to play the game as a team sport. That’s how you win championships.”

Afterward, the usually stoic Wilson let his emotions flow. He said he was thinking of his late father. Carroll believes the weight of Wilson’s struggle led to a cathartic release once the game was safely, improbably, in hand.

“It took so long for the good stuff to happen,’’ Carroll said. “It was a long hard day for him, and we were throwing for nothing. ... It was a crazy game. But with the game on the line, with the chance coming down to it, this is what he has totally believed would happen. He never thought it wouldn’t.”

And that is the ultimate magic of Wilson — his resolute confidence in himself and his team, his utmost belief that if you do things right, and don’t waver in the face of adversity, the outcome will go your way.

Yeah, it started off ugly. But in the end, it was a work of art.

Wilson’s turnaround

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s second half and OT was a complete turnaround from his first half:

Statistics1st half2nd half/OTTotal
Pass completions21214
Pass attempts92029
Interceptions314
Passing yards12197209
Touchdown passes011
Sacked235
Passer rating0.088.544.3
Rushing attempts167
Rushing yards22325
Rushing TDs011

Larry Stone: lstone@seattletimes.com



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About Larry Stone

Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.
lstone@seattletimes.com

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