It’s difficult to imagine a more remarkable performance — Pete Carroll described it as “exquisite” – than the one the rookie Russell Wilson delivered Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago: Drove the Seahawks 94 yards in nine plays for a second-quarter touchdown. Drove the Seahawks 97 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead TD near the end of regulation. Drove the Seahawks 80 yards in 12 plays for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
Golden Tate astonishingly shed four Chicago tacklers to reach the end zone near the end of regulation after taking a pass from Wilson, but to get to that point, Wilson twice had to overcome 2nd-and-10 situations, had to negotiate a 3rd-and-14, and then had to convert a 4th-and-3 from the Chicago 48-yard line (short pass to Zach Miller).
Wilson continually kept Chicago off balance with a number of zone read plays, some which Wilson kept for big gains, and others that led to first downs from running back Marshawn Lynch.
In order to get into position to throw the game-winning, OT TD to Rice, who ended the contest looking like an end zone crash dummy, Wilson needed to convert a 3rd-and-2 from the Chicago 47 (he skirted left end for five yards), 3rd-and-5 from the Chicago 37 (ran for 12 yards), and 3rd-and-10 from the Chicago 25 (13-yard pass to Doug Baldwin).
It did not go unreported that, largely due to Wilson, Seattle defeated Chicago for the third consecutive year at Soldier Field. But this nugget failed to make the final stat sheet: the Seahawks are the first interdivision opponent ever to beat the Bears in Chicago in three consecutive seasons. Some notable quarterbacks have taken whacks at that, including Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
Wilson, named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday, emerged from Seattle’s 23-17 victory with a 104.9 passer rating, his fourth consecutive game with a rating above 100.0. Since the first of November, a span that includes five games for some quarterbacks, four for others, Wilson’s passer rating is 120.3 (127.3 vs. Minnesota, 131.0 vs. New York Jets, 125.9 at Miami, 104.9 at Chicago). That leads the NFL by a tick over Washington’s Robert Griffin III’s 119.8.
|Robert Griffin III||Wash||102||69||882||9||1||119.8|
Wilson has produced a passer rating above 100.0 six times, one shy of the Seahawks’ franchise record. In 2005, when the Seahawks won 13 games and reached Super Bowl XL, Matt Hasselbeck had seven games in which he had a passer rating of 100.0 or higher, which helped send him to the second of his three Pro Bowls. Hasselbeck’s passer rating that year: a career-high 98.2. Wilson’s this year: 95.5, and rising every week.
Having posted four consecutive games with a 100+ passer rating, Wilson is also one shy of the franchise record of five, set by Dave Krieg in 1986 from Nov. 23 through Dec. 20 (Hasselbeck also had four in a row in 2005). Krieg’s passer rating in 1986: 91.1, slightly below Wilson’s 95.5 (Krieg went to three Pro Bowls and his passer rating in each of those seasons — 1984/83.3, 1988/94.6, 1989/74.8 — was lower than Wilson’s is now).
The two most notable quarterbacks in Seahawks history apart from Hasselbeck and Krieg were the first one, Jim Zorn (1976-83), and future Hall of Famer Warren Moon (1997-98). Zorn exceeded a 100.0+ passer rating five times in 126 games with Seattle, one fewer than Wilson in just 12 contests. Moon had five 100.0+ passer-rating efforts spread over his two seasons.
Moon had the best year of his career in 1990, when, as a Houston Oiler, he was the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year when he threw for 4,689 yards, 33 TDs and had a passer rating of 96.8. That year, Moon had seven ratings above 100.0, one more than Wilson, who has an NFL-leading 122 rating at CenturyLink Field with three games remaining.
Wilson, with 2,344 passing yards and 19 touchdowns, won’t exceed 4,000 yards and 30 TD passes, as Moon did in 1990, but he has a chance to throw more touchdown passes in a season than any rookie in NFL history. As this chart shows, he’s seven away from matching Peyton Manning’s rookie record: