SEATTLE - Now that's the Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks fans know and love. The one who refers to himself as dangerous in his Twitter handle had been anything but this season with games on the line. Not the case Thursday night when @DangeRussWilson arrived just in time to throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to defeat Green Bay 27-24 and save Seattle's season. Well, to at least to keep the season alive for the time being.
A sense of desperation filled the air at CenturyLink Field Thursday night. The Seahawks (5-5), losers of several close games this year, had run out of time for any further near misses. They had to win this game. So did Green Bay (4-5-1). The intense contest that transpired reflected the sense of urgency of the moment. The Seahawks and the Packers went back and forth, the latter being led by one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
Little evidence existed to suggest that a Seahawks' victory would come easily. That meant that at some point, Wilson would have to come up big in areas where he hadn't been so successful this season in order to match the play of his counterpart, Aaron Rodgers.
But on this night, Wilson rediscovered that clutch trait that has defined his career to date, if not this season. He orchestrated a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass down the middle to tight end Ed Dickson to take a 27-24 lead with 5:08 remaining in the game. The defense held. The offense grinded clock. Seattle won. Now it's off to Carolina to face the Panthers (6-3) in 10 days.
Where had that level of play from Wilson been all season? Will it return again this season? If so, Seattle has a chance to slip into the playoffs. If not, Thursday night's victory only delayed the inevitable.
Wilson promised all season that this relatively young team would find itself at some point. Yet, Wilson had been the one missing in big moments all season. Let's recap:
- At Chicago in Week 2 with Seattle trailing 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Wilson threw an interception that cornerback Prince Amukamara returned 49 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a 24-10 lead with 6:37 remaining. Seattle lost 24-17.
- Two weeks ago at home against the Los Angeles Chargers with Seattle down 19-10 in the fourth quarter, Wilson had a pass picked off by defensive back Desmond King and returned 42 yards for a touchdown that gave the Chargers a 25-10 lead with 6:44 remaining in the game. Seattle lost 25-17
- Last week at the Los Angeles Rams with Seattle down 36-31, Wilson led a drive in the final two minutes that came up short at the 35 yard line after he overthrow a wide-open Tyler Lockett on fourth down when the wide receiver had first-down yardage near the sideline.
Wilson was spotty at times, including in the first quarter when he badly overthrew a wide open Doug Baldwin in the end zone.
"I missed a couple here and there but we stayed the course and had a great night," said Wilson, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.
He was off just enough to prompt coach Pete Carroll to chat him up to make sure he was okay.
"He said, 'I'm going to be all right. I'm going to be all right," Carroll explained regarding the brief conversation with his quarterback. "And he was exactly right. 'Shut up, coach' is what he could have really said, but he didn't."
That's all well and good as long as the quarterback in that situation makes amends when it matters most. Wilson did so, and he believes this is just the beginning for Seattle.
Wilson has likened this young team to the 2012 Seahawks who began to blossom into what would be a Super Bowl champion the following season. He's also compared this squad to the 2015 version that overcame early adversity to reach the playoffs. In fact, Wilson said Thursday night that he had recently watched some of the games from that season and that doing so reinforced his belief that this year's team is similar. Seattle began 2015 with a 2-4 record and sat at 4-5 entering game ten, just as the Seahawks did tonight. Seattle in 2015 then went on to win six of seven to close the season at 10-6 and land in the postseason.
Could this team do the same? Maybe, but only if the Wilson of tonight continues to resurface in the fourth quarter when needed.
"One of the things that we talked about this week, and I kind of brought up to the guys is that we've got to think big, we've got to believe big," Wilson said. "We've got to believe that great things are going to happen. We've been through the fire this season...We're a young team but a team that has great faith in what we're doing. We were completely together in what we were trying to do. We just stayed the course. We were able to be clutch at the end of the game."
Most importantly, @DangeRussWilson came up clutch and Seattle needs him to remain as such.