Russell Wilson was named as the Offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl on a day when the Seahawks contributed their fair share of highlights.
The five Seahawks who took part in Sunday’s Pro Bowl pretty much did their usual Seahawk things.
Quarterback Russell Wilson threw touchdown passes on three of the four drives he played to lead Team Irvin to a 49-27 victory and take home honors as the Offensive MVP.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the game in tackles with nine, Tyler Lockett had a 24-yard punt return and a reception on a fake punt, Richard Sherman saved a touchdown with a deflection in the end zone while also turning in one of the game’s most memorable plays (more on which in a minute).
And Michael Bennett? Well, he jumped offsides twice, lined up at quarterback, danced with cheerleaders and mascots and still found time to make what turned out to be the only sack of the game while also tipping a pass that turned into an interception — all good enough to earn him honors as the game’s Defensive MVP.
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The two were the first Seahawks to win MVP honors in the Pro Bowl since Warren Moon was named MVP in 1998 (or following the 1997 season). And it was the first time the offensive and defensive MVPs were from the same team since 1971 when Kansas City’s Len Dawson and Willie Lanier accomplished the feat (though for a number of years only one MVP has been picked).
“To see us Seahawks out there is a real special thing,” said Wilson, who got the start for Team Irvin and completed 8-12 passes for 164 yards along with the three touchdowns. “It’s a testament to our hard work and to see two Seahawks out there as MVPs is really cool.”
Wilson threw touchdown passes to conclude each of the first two possessions for Team Irvin. The first was a 14-yarder to Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, and the next from 11 yards out to Devonta Freeman, also of the Falcons.
Wilson also threw a two-point pass to Jones after the Freeman TD to make it 14-7.
After a three-and-out, Wilson led another drive that ended in a 10-yard TD pass to Todd Gurley of the Rams (Gurley breaking open in front of Wagner on the play).
“Any time you have the opportunity to play the great game of football, you take advantage of the opportunity,” Wilson said later in comments reported by The Associated Press “Playing in the Pro Bowl is a special thing because to be able to see all the amazing players across the league, who are the best players in the world and to be able to play on one field together is a really, really cool thing.”
Wilson didn’t play again, but he’d done enough to earn honors in a game that is notoriously played with the seriousness of an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, and might have even topped its reputation this season.
The Seahawks, as might be expected, were right in the middle of the hi-jinks.
Sherman at one point lined up as a receiver and took a reverse, then with nowhere to go, cut back and returned to the side of the field where he had started — if much further behind the line — eventually tackled for a 22-yard loss by Wagner (the game is no longer played with a conference format, with players instead split into teams captained by former NFL stars Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice). Wagner could later be seen on the TV broadcast chiding of Sherman that “he’s slow”
Said Sherman about the player later, as reported by The Associated Press: “He said that he knew what he was going to do. He knew I was getting the ball and he knew he was making the tackle.”
Bennett later got into the act, taking a snap late in the final seconds and initially appearing to rumble for a touchdown before it was ruled that while he had never been tackled, the whistle had blown — it was officially called a seven-yard rush. Bennett said it was the first time he’d ever played quarterback in a game, saying the only time he had ever done so before “was only in my dreams.”
That play came after Bennett had been whistled twice for offsides in the first half, something he was called for seven times during the regular season
Capturing the appropriate tone of the proceedings, Seattle safety Earl Thomas quickly Tweeted that Bennett “has to jump offsides to let everyone know that (he’s) playing in the game #Trademark’’ (Thomas and safety Kam Chancellor also initially were selected to play but pulled out for health reasons).
As All-Star games often do, the day featured its share of interesting crossing of paths.
Lockett lined up opposite Sherman on what appeared to be a punt in the first half, only to then cut to the sideline and take a pass for eight yards and a first down thrown by St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker. The same Johnny Hekker who is the former Bothell QB who levied a late hit on Seattle’s Cliff Avril in a December game, later also drawing the ire of Bennett when he ducked quickly to the ground on a punt later in the game.
In comments to Seahawks.com, Sherman — standing with Lockett — joked that “this kid is so awful they had to run a fake punt in order to get him open.”
The best news of all might have been that all five of the Seahawks emerged unscathed, now ready to head into the off-season.