After snatching a game-winning, two-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson Sunday with 31 seconds remaining, WR Doug Baldwin summed up his quarterback in a mere nine words: “He has shown a propensity to do miraculous things.” Aside from the fact that Baldwin might be the first wideout in NFL history to use “propensity” in a sentence, some might describe his words as hyperbole. They are not.
The 14-play, 75-yard drive that Wilson orchestrated over the final four minutes, ending with the Baldwin touchdown on second-and-goal, marked the 19th game-winning march of Wilson’s five-year career. It lifted the Seahawks to a 12-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins that was a lot tougher for Seattle than bookmakers figured it would be.
Wilson is within one game-winning drive of tying the franchise record of 20, held jointly by Dave Krieg (1983-91) and Matt Hasselbeck (2001-10). Krieg set the mark over 136 games (regular season and playoffs) and Hasselbeck matched it in 149.
Wilson played in his 75th game Sunday.
Among the many records held by Peyton Manning is the one for most game-winning drives. Manning orchestrated 56 over 18 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Hall of Famer Dan Marino had 51 and Tom Brady has 48.
Six of the top 10 leaders in game-winning drives are in the Hall of Fame and the other four – Manning, Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger – are enshrinement locks when they become eligible.
But this is how many game-winning drives each of those luminaries conducted through their first 75 games (regular season and playoffs) compared to where Wilson’s total ranks at the same benchmark (GWD=career game winning drives; 75 gms=game-winning drives after 75 games):
|Player||Team (s)||Career||GWD||75 Gms||Skinny|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle||2012-16||19||19||75th pick in ’12 draft|
|Tom Brady||New England||2000-15||48||17||3 Super Bowl MVPs|
|John Elway||Denver||1983-98||46||15||Hall of Fame, 2004|
|B. Roethlisbrger||Pittsburgh||2004-16||37||15||Career 94.0 QBR|
|Dan Marino||Miami||1983-99||51||14||Hall of Fame, 2005|
|Warren Moon||Houston||1984-00||37||11||Hall of Fame, 2006|
|Peyton Manning||Ind, Den||1998-15||56||11||5 AP MVP awards|
|Joe Montana||San Francisco||1979-94||33||10||Hall of Fame, 2000|
|Bret Favre||Green Bay||1991-10||45||10||Hall of Fame, 2016|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2001-16||38||10||432 career TD passes|
Since Wilson entered the NFL in 2012, his 19 game-winning drives have occurred in the fourth quarter (Tony Romo has 16 and Andrew Luck 14). With Wilson’s fade route to Baldwin Sunday, nine of the 19 ended with Wilson touchdown passes.
Three have come inside the final minute, including the most controversial, a 24-yarder to Golden Tate Sept. 24, 2012 with 0:00 showing on the Clink clock. That play quickly entered pro football lore as the “Fail Mary.” Wilson also tossed a 23-yard game winner with 47 seconds to play to TE Luke Willson to defeat Carolina Oct. 26, 2014.
Wilson’s longest game-winning TD, 46 yards, went to WR Sidney Rice Oct. 14, 2012, defeating the New England Patriots 24-23 at CenturyLink Field with 1:18 remaining. Wilson and Rice also beat the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Dec. 2, 2012 by collaborating on a 13-yard TD with 7:33 left in OT.
Surely the most dramatic of Wilson’s game-winning drives was the one that ended with his 35-yard perfecto to WR Jermaine Kearse with 11:41 left in overtime Jan. 18, 2015 that beat Green Bay 28-22 and claim a spot in Super Bowl XLIX.
Even after 75 games, some NFL watchers – columnist Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com is a prime example – still consider Wilson a glorified game manager. But glorified game managers do not conduct 19 winning drives in the first 75 games of a career.