Russell Wilson Rounding into MVP Form, and Seahawks Haven't Shown Full Hand Yet

Sean Tomlinson@@SeanGTomlinsonNFL AnalystOctober 30, 2017

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes against the Houston Texans at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

What Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was asked to do Sunday late in a 41-38 win over the Houston Texans seemed possible, but exceedingly difficult.

It seemed possible in the sense that devouring one of the grotesque "eat this and it's free!" menu items at your favorite dive restaurant is indeed doable. But only the true heroes have their name on the wall.

We've seen Wilson's heroics before, but each time there's a new wrinkle, and the hurdle to clear often gets higher. This time, he had to outduel a younger version of himself, as rising Texans rookie DeShaun Watson threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns. And this time, landing the final blow meant shaking off a red-zone interception on the previous drive while covering 80 yards in 1:39 with no timeouts.

Even for Wilson, that task and that field-position hole felt daunting. He has spent much of his career propping up the Seahawks offense despite getting whacked far too much behind a porous offensive line. He's weaved, spun away from pass-rushers and consistently been a multipurpose threat during dire times.

That didn't change in the final 99 seconds Sunday.

Wilson needed only 78 of those seconds to beat the seemingly insurmountable odds he faced, propelling his Seahawks to the top of the NFC West in the process.

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Their standing atop the division wouldn't be possible without Wilson's calm, zen state as he dropped back to pass deep in his own territory and planted at the 9-yard line with Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney bearing down.

There was no safety net if Wilson was sacked, which had already happened twice, once with Clowney bringing the pain. That didn't faze the 29-year-old veteran passer while he scanned the field, nimbly stepped up into the pocket to escape pressure and then whistled a pass several area codes away into wide receiver Paul Richardson's outstretched hands.

Richardson secured the deep 48-yard heave with his usual dazzling acrobatics. And just like that, the Seahawks went from trailing by four points at home with hope dwindling to well within position to steal a win.  

They did just that two plays later when Wilson connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for the game-winning touchdown.

On that final drive alone, Wilson threw for 85 yards, which also included a 19-yard completion down the left side to wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Even more incredibly, he threw for 192 yards in a fourth quarter which featured two offenses throwing haymakers and scoring a combined 28 points. For perspective, the Seahawks-Texans game had more fourth-quarter points than the total scored by 12 other teams during the early- and late-afternoon games Sunday.

The Seahawks rarely win those types of games. Their success has been rooted in a defense and rushing offense that pummel opponents in equal doses.

But on Sunday, Watson roasted the usually stout Seahawks defense that came into Week 8 allowing a league low 15.7 points per game. Worse, Wilson received laughably disastrous support from his running backs, as Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and J.D. McKissic combined for five yards on 16 carries.

The Seahawks weren't just running into a wall. No, their running backs were the wall, and they produced as though they had been encased in cement. Meanwhile, the secondary was uncharacteristically leaky.

And none of that mattered, because Wilson has a way of making everything else melt away. He's done that often over a winning streak now at four games in which the Seahawks have scored 40-plus points twice, and outscored opponents 127-73.

Russell Wilson's last four games
WeekPassing yardsYPAComp %Passer ratingTDINT
Week 429511.380.8107.522
Week 51985.464.976.211
Week 73348.669.2121.130
Week 845211.063.4123.241

His set a new single-game career high against the Texans with 452 passing yards, as Pro Football Talk's Curtis Crabtree noted.

True to his slippery and still pinpoint style, Wilson was at his best when everything seemed to be crumbling around him. He finished with a 113.5 passer rating when pressured, according to Pro Football Focus, and a 145.8 rating on throws that traveled 20-plus yards through the air.

Wilson's rare blend of mobility and comfort in the pocket has always set him apart. Too often a quarterback has one of those traits, but not both.

In addition to scrambling to extend plays and buying time while looking to push the ball downfield, Wilson always has the field sense that tells him when to take off. He did Sunday for several key gains, and he finished with 30 rushing yards. Wilson is now on pace for 443 rushing yards in 2017, which would be his fifth season with 400-plus yards on the ground.

Wilson averaged 7.5 yards per carry against the Texans.
Wilson averaged 7.5 yards per carry against the Texans.Elaine Thompson/Associated Press/Associated Press

By pulling his team out of a September slumber, Wilson has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation at midseason.

The Seahawks' 1-2 start is becoming a distant memory. In its place is a team that's climbing as it usually does when the intensity rises and the temperature drops later in the season. The Seahawks haven't reached their peak yet, either.

They have an offensive line that, while still subpar, has improved in recent weeks. Before the Seahawks' Week 6 bye, Wilson was sacked three times on four separate occasions. In the two games since, he's gone down a total of three times.

Moving forward, the rushing offense can't possibly be worse. In the past, Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy have shown they're capable of more than the 2.3 yards per carry the two are combining to average now.

The Seahawks have thrived during the second half of seasons in the Pete Carroll era, with an 18-6 record in their final eight games over the past three years.

Every year, there are valid early-season concerns about Seattle's weak offensive line, Wilson taking too much physical abuse or a defense showing small signs of cracking. And every year, those rocky waters are navigated, with all of the dark thoughts forgotten.

The Seahawks could reach a familiar destination with Wilson at the helm, and we might look back on Week 8 as the game that launched the long journey.