As a third-round pick a starting job was not promised to Russell Wilson.
But on Sunday against St. Louis, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback gets one last chance to stake his claim as one of most unlikeliest candidates for this year’s offensive Rookie of the Year award.
While Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have played up to their first-round draft status, Wilson has bulled his way into the conversation by helping to lead Seattle to a playoff berth and a 10-5 record, including winning the last four games by an average margin of 31.5 points a contest.
Since Week 5, Wilson has thrown for 2,274 yards, completing 65 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
During that same stretch Wilson has a 106.9 passer rating, the second best in the league over that span behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (110.8).
In the red zone, Wilson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating, which is fourth-best in the league.
Here are a couple more stats working in Wilson’s favor:
• Wilson ranks second all-time in league history with 25 touchdown passes thrown by a rookie, one short of the NFL record of 26 set by Peyton Manning in 1998.
• He’s the first player in NFL history to have three rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown in the first half of a game (against Buffalo at Toronto on Dec. 16).
• Wilson helped Seattle become the first team since the 1950 N.Y. Giants to score 50 points in consecutive games in a single season
• His three consecutive games with a 125-plus passer rating set the NFL rookie record.
Those impressive numbers certainly indicate Wilson should be in the mix for the award, but the University of Wisconsin product predictably said it’s not in the front of his mind this week.
“All I think about, is focus on just winning,” Wilson said. “Obviously, accolades are great, but the thing that’s on my mind is winning the next game, against the Rams. The main goal is to do something great.
“We’re trying to do something special. The biggest goal and the biggest accolade we want is the Lombardi trophy, obviously.”
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I can’t believe that you can’t want to vote for the kid,” Carroll said. “But those other guys are great players and they’ve done great stuff for their football teams. That’s exciting, fun stuff. I don’t think he cares much about it. He’d put the trophy on the shelf and all that but that’s not what he’s all about.”
Luck and Griffin aren’t slouches either. Luck set the rookie record for passing yards (4,138) with a game left in the regular season, turning an Indianapolis team that finished 2-14 a year ago into a winner, and leading them to a playoff berth.
Although he’s thrown 18 interceptions and posted a pedestrian 75.6 passer rating, Luck also had led his team to seven fourth-quarter comebacks, has thrown the fifth-most passes in the league (599) and accounts for 80 percent of his team’s total offense this season.
Basically, Luck has been asked to shoulder more of the load offensively than Wilson or Griffin.
Statistically, Griffin is the best of the three. Although he’s missed one game this season due to a knee injury, Griffin has thrown for 3,100 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He’s the top rushing quarterback in the NFL with 752 rushing yards, is second in passer rating (104.1) and has the Redskins on the brink of making the playoffs for the first time since 2007.