Seahawks’ Wilson ties Manning’s rookie TD record

SEATTLE — When a chance at history threatened to interfere with the easiest path to victory, Russell Wilson, not surprisingly took the selfless route.

Of course, the selfless route meant a rushing touchdown for the Seahawks rookie quarterback, but still, he could have attempted to hit tight end Zach Miller in the end zone to not only give Seattle a lead, but to also give him the rookie record for touchdown passes.

Instead, Wilson saw an easy path to the end zone and took it, capping a 90-yard drive that gave the Seahawks a 20-13 victory over the Rams. As it stands, Wilson still tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 thanks to his 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Robinson earlier in the fourth quarter. And Wilson choosing the easier path to victory over a little piece of history was hardly surprising to anybody who has been paying attention, including Wilson himself, who admitted he briefly thought about chasing the record.

“I was about to throw it to Zach to break the record, then I realized, that’s not me,” said Wilson. “I wasn’t worried about that. The only thing was to win the game.”

So no, Wilson didn’t break Manning’s record, he merely tied it while attempting 182 fewer passes than Manning did in 1998, and while throwing 18 fewer interceptions. And most telling of Wilson’s rookie season, he ended the year with another clutch, fourth-quarter drive. Seattle’s go-ahead drive, which featured a vintage Wilson play in which he avoided the pass rush, scrambled and hit Golden Tate for a 44-yard gain, was the fourth Wilson has led this season to give Seattle the lead in the fourth quarter of a win this season. After taking a beating early in the game, Wilson started to find way to avoid sacks and make plays. Wilson again frustrated pass rushers, he again made plays with his arms and legs, and he again took care of the football.

“I thought it was awesome, I really though it was awesome that that’s the way it went,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said of the winning drive. “I said to (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell), ‘Make sure he has enough chances to do this.’ If we run the football too much and don’t give him the opportunity, I think we would have missed that chance. Bev moved him around and did some things with him, and Russell made it happen.”

To think, the Seahawks were a team that did everything they could to keep Wilson from having to do too much early in the season. Now Carroll was telling his offensive coordinator to let Wilson go, even when the Seahawks could have slowed things down and settle for a go-ahead field goal.

“He’s an incredible kid,” Carroll said. “We’re just lucky that we got him on our side, and he’s growing up with us. Pretty exciting.”

Wilson, the first rookie quarterback to go 8-0 at home, finished his day completing 15-of-19 passes for 250 yards and one score, and he rushed for 58 yards and another touchdown. That capped off not just a good season for a rookie quarterback, but a darn good one for any NFL quarterback. Wilson’s 100.0 passer rating would have established a new rookie record if not for fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, Seattle’s opponent next weekend. RG3, as it turns out, finished with a rating of 102.4. Wilson’s season was also one of the best in Seahawks history. His passer rating edged out Matt Hasselbeck’s 2005 season (98.2) for the best in franchise history and his 26 touchdowns are tied for fourth most. Wilson, who had four rushing touchdowns, also became the second rookie in league history to account for 30 total touchdowns after Carolina’s Cam Newton had 21 touchdown passes and 14 rushing touchdowns last season.

Not bad for a third-round pick who was supposed to be too short to play the position in the NFL. As was on display again Sunday, Wilson is adept at making plays outside of the pocket, a trait the Seahawks love.

“He’s going to scramble,” Carroll said. “If you make him stop scrambling, he ain’t going to be Russell Wilson. He’s going to scramble. I love every time he gets out there and does something, I have no problem with it. He does not want to be a scrambler, and we don’t want him to be a scrambler, we just love that he is.”

That does not, however, mean Wilson scrambles because he has to, or because he is too short to operate as a drop-back passer. Wilson’s play allowed Carroll and his coaching staff to dismiss that notion a long time ago.

“If you want to look and say, ‘Oh gosh, he couldn’t see something’ or whatever, we’re so past that,” Carroll said. “I don’t even want to talk about that. He’s a fantastic football player that’s got a style that just got us 11 wins.”

Eleven wins, a goal that for Wilson easily trumped a 27th touchdown pass.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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