Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has the sixth-highest passer rating in NFL playoff history (of quarterbacks with more than eight playoff games) behind only a veritable who’s who of the position — Bart Starr, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana.
A trait of Russell Wilson’s that has drawn constant praise, if not downright awe, from teammates and coaches is his steadiness no matter the situation.
“He’s always his stoic, focused self,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “He doesn’t really have ups and downs. He’s very consistent. Playoffs come and he’s the same Russell Wilson.”
Wilson’s playoff history bears that out.
Here’s a look at the top five playoff performances of Russell Wilson’s career:
1. 2014 divisional playoff win against Carolina: This game is often best remembered for Kam Chancellor’s 91-yard interception return that sealed it, as well as Chancellor’s leaps over the line to try to block a field goal. But statistically, Wilson has never been better as he completed 15 of 22 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns for a passér rating of 149.2 that is his playoff career high.
2. Super Bowl XLVIII win over Denver: Wilson wasn’t necessarily the focal point of the game. But in some ways that was the point. There was a lot of pregame speculation about how Wilson would handle the pressure, especially going up against a veteran sure-to-be-Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning. But while Manning threw two interceptions, Wilson was nearly flawless, going 18 for 25, a playoff career-high 72 percent, for 206 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover and letting the defense help carry a 43-8 win.
3. 2012 divisional playoff loss to Atlanta: In Wilson’s second playoff game he threw for what remains a career high for any game — postseason or regular season — completing 24 of 36 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns in nearly bringing the Seahawks back from a 20-0 halftime deficit.
4. 2013 NFC Championship Game win over San Francisco: This game began ominously with an early Wilson fumble that helped lead to a 10-0 San Francisco second-quarter advantage. And true, it could be argued the real star of this win was Marshawn Lynch, whose 40-yard TD run in the third quarter got Seattle back into it. But it was Wilson who made the fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass for the winning TD to Jermaine Kearse, taking advantage of the 49ers jumping offsides, to put the Seahawks ahead for good. Wilson was 16 for 25 for 216 yards against what at the time was one of the top defenses in the NFL.
5. 2014 NFC Championship Game win over Green Bay: Hear me out on this. Yes, Wilson threw four interceptions. But he also shrugged off a hard hit from Clay Matthews and that the Seahawks appeared dead when trailing 16-0 to lead an improbable comeback. And while his overall stats were not much (14 for 29, 209 yards) he was 3 for 3 for 70 yards on the overtime drive that won the game, capped by a 35-yard TD pass to Kearse, a play that came after Wilson audibled when seeing Kearse in man coverage and no safety deep.
Wilson has the sixth-highest passer rating in NFL playoff history (of quarterbacks with more than eight playoff games) behind only a veritable who’s who of the position — Bart Starr, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana.
And his seven playoff wins is already 15th-most in NFL history.
This is one season, though, when the Seahawks might need a slightly different Wilson than the one they saw in the regular season to make a long playoff run.
Wilson endured a regular season that as he said Wednesday “had some bumps and bruises along the way.”
Those began with a high ankle sprain suffered in the third quarter of the first game of the season, followed later by a sprained MCL and then a sore pec.
Since the second game of the season, Wilson has worn some sort of protection during games, be it heavily-taped ankles or a knee brace.
Wednesday, though, Wilson hinted that he might go into the playoffs a little less encumbered.
Wilson has said for weeks that he continued to wear a brace on his knee for security, as much as anything.
But Wednesday, when asked about needing to continue wearing the brace in the playoffs, Wilson hinted that he might not.
“I don’t have to keep wearing it,” Wilson said, emphasizing the word “have.” “I’m contemplating what we’re going to do here.”
A few questions later, Wilson said: “My leg is good. I think it’s just more a safety thing. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad or necessarily have-to or anything like that (to keep wearing the brace).”
The injuries have contributed to what has been one of the biggest changes to a Seattle offense that all season has struggled to find its stride — Wilson’s inability to run as he has in the past.
Wilson finished the season with a career-low 259 yards on 72 carries with a long of just 18 and an average of 3.6 per attempt. He had rushed for at least 539 the last three seasons and at least 5.4 per attempt.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll last week cited Wilson’s inability to run as he has as maybe the biggest factor in the dropoff of the team’s rushing attack as Seattle averaged just 99.4 yards per game on the ground, 25th in the NFL, after ranking in the top four in the league each of the past four seasons.
But if the brace comes off, could some of the reins on Wilson’s running, as well?
Wilson undoubtedly has been in something of a self-preservation mode most of the season, for obvious and understandable reasons.
But now with the season at a must-win level, Wilson could throw — or, maybe more accurately run — caution to the wind.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week that it’s “amazing” how Wilson has played through his injuries this season. “There’s probably been more adversity for him this year than any other year.”
Wilson insisted Wednesday that “I feel really good. I feel like any play I need to make I can make, that’s for sure. That’s the exciting part, so I still feel really fast and all that. If you asked me several weeks ago, I wasn’t moving my fastest, but I feel really good right now.”
Still, even Sunday against the 49ers Wilson seemed slower than his usual self on a few times he tried to take off and make plays with his feet. On a play late in the third quarter, Wilson tried to scramble out of trouble and was caught from behind by linebacker Carl Bradford, throwing the ball away as he was tackled.
“I don’t know if he’s 100 percent,’’ Bevell said. “He’s probably not running 4.4 like he did when he was coming out of the combine, but obviously he still runs well enough to be able to do the things we need him to do.”
That he hasn’t been able to do that much of this season, though, has turned Wilson into a different quarterback – and by extension, the Seahawks into a different team.
Wilson attempted a career-high 546 passes this season — 63 more than his previous high set a year ago — which led to Wilson throwing for a franchise-record 4,219 yards.
The lack of a running game, though, led to the Seahawks offense scoring 69 fewer points this season.
“His style had to be different, so he really had to change the way he played and we changed around him to help him,’’ Bevell said. “Then he’s starting to become himself again.”
Just in time for that to be more important than ever.