A snake lurks inside the cooler that sits in the middle of the Seahawks' locker room. It's made of rubber and tied to the lid, so it rises...

A snake lurks inside the cooler that sits in the middle of the Seahawks’ locker room.

It’s made of rubber and tied to the lid, so it rises up when opening, cobra head waggling as if it might strike.

Fullback Michael Robinson has a video camera trained on the cooler to capture the reactions of anyone who opens it. Cornerback Byron Maxwell shrieked. Brandon Browner actually ran away.

Now, they’re waiting for Russell Wilson, the rookie quarterback, who walks into the locker room and takes one look at the cooler before scanning the rest of the locker room.

“There’s something in there,” he says, before opening it with his foot.

That moment embodies this season for Wilson. He is the first rookie quarterback to start for Seattle since 1993, the player everyone has been watching since the season started only to see him respond with an even-keeled demeanor in the most turbulent of situations.

He has thrown three game-winning touchdown passes in the final three minutes of games this season. He has guided the Seahawks into the playoffs, and needs one TD pass in Seattle’s regular-season finale to tie Peyton Manning’s rookie record.

In Seattle’s first seven games, Wilson had eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions, and Seattle was 4-3. In the eight games since, he passed for 17 touchdowns and has been picked off only twice as Seattle has gone 6-2 and scored 150 points in the past three games.

Danny O’Neil