For one of the rare times in his career, Russell Wilson displayed a flash of public frustration.
He had just thrown an interception from the Tampa Bay 3-yard line, transforming a golden game-tying opportunity midway through the fourth quarter into a devastating turnover. Time was running down, and a shocking defeat to a previously winless opponent was staring the Seahawks in the face. Compounding matters, Wilson was flagged for a 15-yard face mask penalty on the ensuing return.
Wilson sat down on a bench, all by himself, and pounded his fist three times while shaking his head. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll would later scoff at the notion that Wilson was out of sorts.
“I haven’t seen Russell get frustrated yet,” he said, “since the time I’ve been around him.”
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Wilson himself allowed that it was anger bubbling over, after his bid to hit a wide-open Doug Baldwin, on a play the Seahawks had spent the entire game setting up, was usurped by Tampa Bay safety Keith Tandy with the lunging pick. It was the first red-zone interception of Wilson’s career.
“I was obviously mad at myself,” Wilson said. “I thought we had him, and the guy just made a great play on that one. … I never want to give the ball to them. That’s the thing I hate the most, just giving them the football.”
But it is what happened next that continues to define Wilson — who had another costly interception deep in Tampa Bay territory in the first quarter — as the player of whom Carroll said, “I wouldn’t want anyone else there.”
With time ticking away and their worst-case scenario in danger of being officially recorded in the standings, Wilson led the Seahawks on a 59-yard scoring drive. This time, he found Baldwin for the 10-yard touchdown pass that tied the score with 1:51 left in regulation.
That was followed, in overtime, by a crisp march down the field for Steven Hauschka’s game-winning field goal, and another crisis averted by the Seahawks.
“We have a lot of guys who, even though you face adversity, you’re going to come back from it and do something positive,” Baldwin said. “Including Russell Wilson. He throws two picks, but at the same time he doesn’t let that get him down. He keeps rolling, he keeps getting the offense back in rhythm, and put together some game-winning drives.”
Baldwin laughed softly when asked if he said anything to pump up Wilson after the interception with the Seahawks so close to the end zone.
“No. I didn’t have anything to say to him,” Baldwin said. “He knew exactly what was going on. He’s a grown man. He knows how to handle himself.”
One thing we’ve learned about Wilson in his brief tenure in Seattle is that he has the knack for coming out golden in the end, no matter how messy the process. He is 3-0 in overtime games, and has guided fourth-quarter comebacks in half the Seahawks’ wins this season — nine in his career, including playoffs.
And that’s closely related to Wilson’s essential ability to put his lapses quickly in the past; “amnesia” is the term he uses often.
“I think the biggest thing for me I’ve learned and understood: If there’s any time on the clock, we have a chance,” he said.
So after letting his anger briefly fester, Wilson said he successfully let it go, using a technique he’s employed successfully throughout his career.
“I find a place, pregame, in every stadium I go to, that I look at, and that helps bring me back to zero,” he said. “No matter how good I’m doing or bad I’m doing, I just find that place. That brings me back to zero.”
Of course, for the Seahawks to continue bearing the fruits of Wilson’s belief system, they’re going to have to keep him upright and on the field. Once again, he was under heavy pressure and took some big hits. At one point, Wilson appeared to be flexing his left hand.
“He got hit enough today that a couple of things were bothering him,” Carroll said.
But Wilson insisted: “I feel good. I got hit a few times, obviously. I got hit pretty good a couple of times here and there. You just get back up and keep playing.’’
That’s the Wilson way. Find his happy spot in the most trying times, push any and all adversity to the side, then keep playing. And keep winning.
Wilson is 19-6 as an NFL starter. If he can guide the Seahawks to at least four wins in their final seven games, he will have more victories than any quarterback in NFL history in their first two seasons.
“He never thought for a second that we weren’t going to win this football game,” Carroll said. “And he made the plays he needed to make to put us in position to do it.”
|A dramatic turnaround|
|Tampa Bay took a 21-0 lead with 2:23 left in the first half and looked primed for a big upset and its first win of the season. What happened after that:|
|Category||First 27:37||Rest of game|
|Points by Bucs||21||3|
|Points by Seahawks||0||27|
|Third downs converted by Bucs||6 of 7||2 of 8|
|Turnovers by Seahawks||2||1|
|Passing stats for Russell Wilson||3 for 7, 12 yards, 1 INT||16 for 19, 205 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT|