Sunday’s win over Miami represented the 19th time Wilson has led a drive to win a game in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2012, the most in the NFL in that span. Which got us to thinking: Which of Wilson’s comebacks is the best?
It’s going to be pretty hard for Russell Wilson to top his initial fourth-quarter comeback for pure degree of difficulty and “Did you see that?’’ value.
That came three games into his rookie season in 2012 when Wilson hooked up with Golden Tate on the famous (or infamous, depending on your rooting interest) “Fail Mary’’ Monday night touchdown pass as time ran out to beat Green Bay.
But darned if Wilson doesn’t keep trying.
Playing on a sprained ankle that almost forced him to come out of a game for the first time in his career, Wilson led the Seahawks 75 yards in 14 plays for the winning touchdown Sunday against Miami, the clinching score coming on a 2-yard pass to Doug Baldwin with 31 seconds remaining. Before that drive, Seattle had just 85 yards in the second half.
It was the 19th time Wilson has led a drive to win a game in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2012, the most in the NFL in that span.
It was the 14th time Wilson did so in a game in which the Seahawks trailed in the fourth quarter (the Seahawks count five games in which they were tied in the fourth-quarter as comeback drives).
And it was the fourth time Wilson threw a touchdown pass inside the final minute to either win a game or force overtime in a game the Seahawks won.
Which got us to thinking: Which of Wilson’s comebacks is the best? Here’s one man’s list of the top five:
The Packers thought they had it wrapped up, so much that Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett didn’t bother trying to return an interception with 5:04 left and the Packers leading 19-7, simply giving himself up after taking a few steps. At that point, the Pro Football Reference win probability calculator gave the Seahawks a 0.10 percent chance to win. You know what happened next. This might be Wilson’s most erratic game ever, as he threw four interceptions but then led three scoring drives of 50 yards or longer in the final four minutes and overtime. It it might have all gone for naught if not for Chris Matthews’ onside-kick recovery.
Though other comebacks might be remembered more, most Seahawks consider this the moment Wilson came of age, as he led two late touchdown drives on the road against an 8-3 team. The Seahawks faced a third-and-14 at their 41-yard line with 43 seconds left and trailed 14-10. At that point PFR’s win probability chart gave Seattle a 0.34 percent chance to win. Four consecutive completions put Seattle ahead. The Bears used a 56-yard pass to set up a field goal that tied the score, but Seattle won the coin toss and drove 80 yards for a TD. It was a key win in the late-season surge that got Seattle into the playoffs.
It’s easy to forget now that the Seahawks actually drove to Green Bay’s 7-yard line with 1:41 left before being stopped on fourth-and-3 — when a Wilson pass to Tate went incomplete. At that point, the Seahawks had a 0.68 percent chance to win, according to PFR. But the Seahawks got the ball back at the Green Bay 46 with 46 seconds to go and moved to the 24 on a pass to Sidney Rice. Maybe it was just the odds — Wilson threw three incomplete passes before hooking up with Tate on fourth down.
Nationally, this game often is considered Wilson’s coming-out moment, as he threw two touchdowns in the final 7:21 to overcome a 13-point deficit. Seattle had just a 0.50 chance to win, according to PFR, after the Patriots kicked a field goal to take a 23-10 lead with 9:21 left. But Wilson completed 4 of 8 passes for 107 yards the rest of the way, including a 46-yard TD to Rice to win it with 1:18 left and outduel some guy named Tom Brady in what was just his sixth NFL game.
In terms of difficulty factor, this one ranks right up there, even if it’s an easy one to overlook. After a Wilson interception with 5:20 left and Houston ahead 20-13, the Seahawks had a 1.6 percent chance to win, according to PFR. Also, Wilson’s stats were far from gaudy — he was 12 of 23 for 123 yards with a 49.7 passer rating that was the second-lowest of the 2013 season. But as has now become customary, Wilson saved his best for last, running for 53 yards and passing for 46 on a 99-yard drive that got Seattle within a touchdown (a sack and penalty moved the Seahawks back along the way). That set up Richard Sherman’s 58-yard interception return for a touchdown and an overtime period that went Seattle’s way.
By comparison, Sunday’s comeback was relatively easy. According to PFR’s chart, Seattle’s longest odds came after Miami scored to take a 10-6 lead with 4:08 remaining, a middling 23.6 percent.