Russell Wilson at his best on Seahawks’ game-winning drive

SEATTLE — Russell Wilson recognized the coverage, he knew it wasn’t the best look for the throw he wanted to make.

But when he saw Percy Harvin break open for a moment, the Seahawks quarterback tried to force a pass into a tight window, and the Broncos made him pay.

“That wasn’t one of my smartest plays,” Wilson said of his fourth-quarter interception, which was tipped by Aqib Talib and intercepted by Chris Harris.

But as uncharacteristic as that play was — “How many times have we ever seen him do that?” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said — and as little as the offense got done in the second half, scoring just three points, the result of a long interception return by Kam Chancellor, Wilson was as good in overtime as that fourth-quarter throw was bad.

In leading the Seahawks to a 26-20 overtime victory over the Broncos, Wilson served notice, yet again, that he so much more than the “game manager” label some like to throw on him to diminish his play.

“Keep talking up Andrew Luck,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris told reporters in Denver’s locker room, speaking of the Colts’ quarterback. “Russell Wilson is better than Luck. No question.”

There are a lot of reasons the Seahawks are 30-10, playoffs included, with Wilson as their starting quarterback. Quarterbacks don’t win games on their own. Yes, the defense and running game have been a big part of Seattle’s success. But don’t sell Wilson’s impact short. His ability to come through under pressure time and time is a huge reason why Seattle is 4-0 in overtime.

And why, when facing the top echelon of NFL quarterbacks — Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — the Seahawks are 7-0, postseason included, with Wilson throwing 14 touchdowns and 1 interception.

“Russell does not get fazed,” Carroll said. “… He was just fantastic today, just an incredible effort. The finish to that day, making those first downs, just amazing play by the quarterback.

“He’s an amazing football player, he really is.”

Of course the overtime victory wasn’t Wilson’s alone. The defense was spectacular aside from the breakdowns that allowed Denver to drive 80-yards in less than a minute for the tying score. And Marshawn Lynch ran for 88 hard-earned yards, including the 6-yard game-winner. But the final drive was vintage Wilson, with the quarterback completing four of six passes for 35 yards — and one incompletion was a throwaway under pressure — and scrambling for 21 yards on four carries, including runs to convert on third-and-3 and third-and-4.

“I don’t think anyone ever doubts Russell, he’s just too good,” tight end Zach Miller said. “If you think he’s struggling at all, you know he’s going to make plays like he did with his feet that were so huge there in the second half and overtime. We always trust in him, you know he’s going to win the game for you at some point, and if he doesn’t, then they must have done something really amazing.”

Of course, Wilson needed to orchestrate an overtime touchdown drive in large part because he and the offense struggled in the second half. Seattle’s second half possession went punt, punt, missed field goal, safety, interception, punt, field goal, then a kneel down to end regulation after Denver’s game-tying drive. Considering that field goal was the result of a 52-yard interception return, that’s a pretty poor half, and a rather puzzling one as well considering how effectively the Seahawks moved the ball on their way to two touchdowns in the second quarter.

The particularly rough stretch for Wilson and the offense came in the fourth quarter when the Broncos got back in the game in a hurry thanks to Seahawks miscues. With Seattle enjoying a seemingly comfortable 14 point, fourth-quarter lead, Wilson took a sack at his 1-yard line, a play that seemingly saw him hold the ball too long given the situation. After a false start backed Seattle up a few inches, Lynch was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Then after Seattle’s defense came up with another stop following that safety, Wilson’s next pass attempt was the aforementioned interception. That’s nine points gifted to the Broncos in a very short span to make it a one-possession game.

But then, when the game was on the line, when the choices were score a touchdown or take your chances with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning on the field, Wilson and Seattle’s offense methodically went down the field on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that saw Wilson account for 56 of those yards.

“There’s really nothing you can say,” receiver Doug Baldwin said of Wilson. “I’m speechless. For him to be as poised as he is back there, making the reads he’s making, and not making bad decisions but making great decisions in every facet, whether it’s throwing the ball or taking off and using his legs to get first downs, it’s unbelievable. … He did a phenomenal job all night.”

Well, not quite all night, but once again, Wilson came through when it mattered most.

Herald Writer John Boyle:

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