Seahawks QB Wilson ready for big stage in playoffs


Seahawks QB Wilson ready for big stage in playoffs

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The auditorium is usually reserved for coach Pete Carroll during the season and the occasional first-round draft pick being introduced in the spring.

After months of standing behind a small circular table and in front of a makeshift cereal box-shaped backdrop, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson got the auditorium Thursday - with the big podium, the microphone stands and an entire wall adorned with the Seahawks logo.

``A change-up,'' Wilson said as he entered the room.

He's certainly earned the big stage after going from Seattle's third-round pick to a starting quarterback who's won five straight games and seven of his last eight going into the playoffs.

``He's allowed us to do everything we could think of. We trust him in everything that we're calling,'' Carroll said. ``It doesn't matter what play it is, what concept it is, we trust him to be able to handle it. If it gets off of the practice field on to game day, then we trust that he could do anything. That's a wonderful feeling for a coach that you can trust your quarterback like that.''

Wilson will go into his first playoff game Sunday at Washington coming off one of the finest regular seasons ever by a Seattle quarterback. While passer rating has its flaws as a statistical measure, Wilson's final rating of 100 is the best ever for any Seahawks signal-caller.

That would be the best mark ever for a rookie quarterback if not for Sunday's playoff opponent - Washington QB Robert Griffin III - barely bettering Wilson's final total.

Wilson did get the better of Griffin in touchdown passes, tying Peyton Manning's rookie record with 26.

More important, Wilson led Seattle to 11 wins, becoming the third quarterback in franchise history to win at least 11 games in a season, joining Matt Hasselbeck (13-3 in 2005) and Dave Kreig (12-4 in 1984). That record becomes more impressive when considering Wilson got just a third of the snaps during offseason minicamps and early in training camp as he attempted to win the job in competition with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

Jackson was traded and spent the year as a backup in Buffalo. Flynn didn't see the field until Week 14 when Seattle led 45-0 on its way to a blowout victory.

And Wilson is in the middle of the offensive rookie of the year discussion with Griffin and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

``I didn't come here to be a backup quarterback or a third-string quarterback. I came to be a starter for a long time, and that's my mindset. That's always been my mindset, that competitive edge that I try to bring to the table,'' Wilson said. ``I think the great quarterbacks - and I'm trying to work to get there - if you really look at and I always study the best quarterbacks to play the game, they have tremendous leadership, they have great attention to detail, and they have that competitive relentless nature where they are just competitive all the time. I think that's what's helped me a little bit.''

Among the rookies, most of the attention this season has gone to Luck and Griffin - and rightfully so. Tucked away in the Northwest, the spotlight only started to find Wilson a month ago after he led consecutive long drives at the end of regulation and again in overtime when Seattle won 23-17 at Chicago. Wilson had his finest day as a pro, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

Almost universally, those final moments in Chicago are being referenced by Wilson and his teammates as a turning point of the season. The Seahawks proceeded to outscore their final four opponents by a combined 170-63 margin.

``That was huge. To be able to do that in the type of circumstances that we were in was pretty awesome,'' Wilson said. ``That really pushed our offense forward and pushed our defense forward to have confidence in what we do.''

While this is his first time in the NFL playoffs, the feel and sense around the team's facility reminded Wilson of his preparations a year ago when he was getting ready to lead Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, a game the Badgers lost 45-38. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn't hesitate earlier in the week when asked if he was worried about Wilson getting too wrapped up in the noise of the postseason.

``I just expect him to be very poised, have everything under control and play well,'' he said.


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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