In a matter of seconds, a huge loss turned into a 35-yard gain. The Seahawks scored a touchdown three plays later, their first points and the only touchdown of the game.
MINNEAPOLIS — Someone handed a phone to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at his locker, queued with one of the biggest plays of the game.
In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 10-9 wild-card victory over the Vikings, Wilson wasn’t ready for a shotgun snap, and the ball sailed nearly 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Wilson slid, fell on the ball, and glanced up. In front of him were five Vikings, but he got to his feet, eluded all five defenders and floated a pass on the run to receiver Tyler Lockett.
In a matter of seconds, a huge loss turned into a 35-yard gain. The Seahawks scored a touchdown two plays later, their first points and the only touchdown of the game.
As Wilson watched the replay, running back Christine Michael looked over his shoulder, still as amazed reliving it on the little screen as he was experiencing it live. So Michael asked Wilson the question that has defied easy explanation for years: “How do you stay so poised when you’re back there?”
One teammate called the play “magic,” which is about right for a sequence that left players and coaches shaking their heads.
Lockett: “It was the biggest play of the game. Things weren’t going our way at all, and it was easy to see it. Who would have thought that one of the biggest plays of the game would have come out of one of those plays that wasn’t supposed to happen?”
Offensive tackle Garry Gilliam: “It was supposed to be a run play, and I went to block my dude, and then I heard the crowd roar.”
Center Patrick Lewis: “I looked at the replay. I don’t think the snap was too hot. It was right here for (Wilson) to catch it. I don’t know if he mishandled it or what. I went to the sideline, and he just said he mishandled it. He said it was all right for him to catch it.”
Left guard Justin Britt: “Really, it couldn’t be Pat’s fault. In silent count it’s between me and Russ. He gives me a leg kick, and I’m supposed to tap Pat to snap it. Sometimes I’m looking back and forth, seeing the defense and looking at Russell. I didn’t see the leg kick, but I looked back and it looked like he just gave it and he was looking at me. But I think he was waiting to motion, I don’t know.”
Wilson: “I was about to check the play. It was a tough environment. Hard to hear, hard to yell. It was a little harder to yell like I normally do just because it was so cold.”
Offensive tackle Russell Okung: “I thought the play was over. I thought he was just going to lay on it. I was like, ‘OK, I’m getting ready for the next play.’”
Quarterbacks coach Carl Smith: “I was surprised he went down on the ball, because Russell’s always going to grab that one and try to make a play, all the time. He fell on it and had the presence of mind to get up. And after that it’s just Russell ball.”
Lockett: “Honestly, it’s just reaction. I stood there in the moment just to make sure he was able to get it, but as soon as I saw that it was just about running to a spot and getting open.”
Wilson: “Sure enough, Tyler Lockett came open, and I was able to get the ball to him.”
Receiver Jermaine Kearse, on helping block for Lockett: “I saw Lock, and I saw the leverage, and I was like, ‘Come this way!’ And I was really going to try to hit (a Vikings defender). But then I thought, ‘I might have a FedEx fine (from the NFL) in my locker, so I’m just going to stand there and pick him.’ ”
Receiver Doug Baldwin: “Jermaine was really smart on that play, because he could have come in and laid the guy out, but we would have gotten a penalty. He just picked him like a basketball pick and allowed Tyler to do his thing.”
Kearse: “I thought he was fast enough to score. Nah, I’m just kidding. But I’m going to give him a hard time about that.”
Lockett: “I was thinking about diving into the end zone, but the way things are going it was all about the ball. We talk about it every day. It’s about securing the ball.”
Safety Earl Thomas: “For some reason, I was calm on the sideline. I didn’t panic. Russell didn’t panic, either. I was just happy that he made something out of nothing. Because it was definitely a crazy play. He was able to turn a miscommunication into that.”
Linebacker Bruce Irvin: “Only Russell can make that play. Anybody else would have thrown the ball away.”
Guard J.R. Sweezy: “We play to the whistle, because if something goes wrong we know he’s going to try to make a play. We bought into that a long time ago, and that’s what we do. In my opinion, he’s the best quarterback in the league”