By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Their opinions do not count for much, but the voices of the Seattle Seahawks are unanimous and unwavering — quarterback Russell Wilson should be the NFL’s Rookie of the Year for 2012.
Wilson was not even a likely starter before the season, and was certainly a long shot for the league’s top rookie behind fellow first-year quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Robert Griffin III of Washington — the top two picks in last spring’s NFL draft — not to mention the dozens of other higher draft choices.
But Wilson, a third-round selection, became Seattle’s starting QB in the preseason, and on Sunday night he continued a remarkable rookie season by leading the Seahawks to their fourth consecutive victory and their sixth win in the last seven games with a 42-13 demolishing of the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
In a national television game against the team with the NFL’s top scoring defense, Wilson completed 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns as Seattle rolled to its third straight blowout victory.
“Russell played out of his mind as always,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. “He was incredibly elusive. He’s called Dangerous Wilson for a reason, and he showed it again tonight.
“I’m proud he got to show it in prime time in front of everybody because he’s an incredible player. And hopefully this is enough to get him (Rookie of the Year).”
If Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice had a vote, Wilson would “most definitely” be his Rookie of the Year pick.
“The way he’s carried this team throughout the second half of this season, he’s putting all the pieces into place,” Rice said. “Throwing the ball, running the ball, he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. And I’m glad we have him on our team.”
Wilson’s four touchdown passes pulled him within one of Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdown passes. Wilson can break the record next week when the Seahawks host St. Louis in their regular-season finale.
But more importantly, Wilson’s steady play this season has helped Seattle reach the playoffs. The Seahawks clinched a postseason berth with Sunday’s win, and they can still win the NFC West by beating the Rams next Sunday combined with a San Francisco loss against Arizona.
“I don’t think anybody in this locker room or anywhere in football would’ve expected him to do what he’s done this year,” said Seattle center Max Unger. “He’s matured to a level in his rookie year that nobody really thought he was going to be at. So I just can’t say enough good stuff about him.”
And if Unger had a Rookie of the Year vote, “I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.”
Certainly Wilson helped his cause against San Francisco, which came into the game ranked second in the NFL in yards per game (293). With Wilson at the helm the Seahawks totaled 346 yards, and the 42 points Seattle scored were easily a high for a 49ers opponent this season.
Even Wilson’s one mistake — an early second quarter interception — was not really his fault. A flat pass to running back Robert Turbin bounced off his hands and was picked off by San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis.
“For me, being a rookie, my goal is to continue to grow,” Wilson said. “I’m on a constant quest for knowledge. … all I think about, all I’m focused on is winning.
“Obviously accolades (like Rookie of the Year) are great, but the thing that’s on my mind is winning the next game against the Rams. And the main goal is to do something great. We’re trying to do something special, and the biggest goal and the biggest accolade is the Lombardi Trophy (for the Super Bowl champions).”