By Craig Hill The News Tribune
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Two years and five days after throwing his last collegiate pass, Russell Wilson has as many Super Bowl titles as Peyton Manning.
Still, the 25-year-old looks up to the Denver Broncos quarterback.
“I have so much respect for him,” Wilson said. “… I want to be like him, doing it the right way. His legacy is unbelievable.”
It was his work ethic, which is quickly becoming as legendary as Manning’s, that his teammates credit for helping setting the tone for the two weeks leading up to Sunday’s 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII win.
“He’s always trying to get better and that’s exactly what he did,” said Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse.
As poised as he played, he seemed to show some nerves in the opening minutes.
On his first pass play he rolled out and had an open receiver, tight end Zach Miller, but his pass was too high.
“I don’t know if he was geeked up or what,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
The Seahawks offense settled for field goals on the first two drives, but moved the ball well as Wilson quickly settled in.
“Russell played great,” Kearse said. “It just shows the type of leadership he has and the type of player he is. No matter what is going on in the game, he is always in tune.”
Wilson finished the game completing 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. And while those are hardly remarkable numbers (the second most yards in a Super Bowl by a Seahawks quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 273 yards in 2006), he did exactly what was needed.
“He was outstanding,” Bevell said. “He settled right in and was seeing things very well.”
Bevell said Wilson learned from mistakes made in the NFC championship game to turn in a championships performance Sunday.
Wilson fumbled a handoff to Marshawn Lynch in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game. He also fumbled on the first play from scrimmage of the game.
The mistakes seemed to motivate Wilson to work even harder the last two weeks. And having two weeks to prepare, Seahawks receiver Golden Tate said, makes Wilson especially dangerous.
The Seahawks had no turnovers against Denver.
“He’s a tremendous competitor,” Denver’s coach John Fox said. “… He’s a tremendous young player and I have a great deal of respect for him.”
Even if he was at times painted as simply a game manager entering the Super Bowl, his teammates weren’t at all surprised by a performance that included 26 rushing yards on two carries, no sacks, a passer rating of 123.1 and a 58 percent conversion rate on third down.
“He’s the general,” Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin said. “I said it all week during the press conferences, I haven’t seen anybody prepare the way he prepares. There were three minutes left and the clock still ticking, and he is still in our face telling us to stay ready. And we’re like man this game is pretty much over.
“He just wants to be great that much.”