Panned for picking 5-foot-11 Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin in the third round of last spring’s NFL draft, GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are now being universally praised for making what one CNNSI.com columnist called “a visionary pick.” Hard to argue with that assessment after what Wilson did Sunday: three touchdown passes, including a perfectly placed 46-yard TD pass to beat the New England Patriots with 1:18 to play.
Elias, as only Elias can, came up with a intriguing nugget after Wilson rallied the Seahawks from a 23-10 second-half deficit Sunday: Three weeks ago, Wilson defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers with a controversial touchdown pass on Monday Night Football. Sunday, Wilson got the better of Tom Brady, who threw a career-high 58 passes and wasn’t sacked once.
So six games into Wilson’s NFL career, he has already defeated two quarterbacks who own Super Bowl rings.
The rarity of this is remarkable. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, only five rookie quarterbacks defeated two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Joe Ferguson of Buffalo defeated Len Dawson of Kansas City and Joe Namath of the New York Jets in 1973; Steve Fuller of Kansas City defeated Ken Stabler of Oakland twice in 1979; Mark Sanchez of the Jets knocked off Brady and Peyton Manning in 2009, and Colt McCoy of Cleveland beat Brady and Drew Brees in 2010.
None of the those quarterbacks developed into elite players, although Ferguson threw for nearly 30,000 yards and 196 touchdown passes in a career that lasted until 1990. But it also doesn’t mean Wilson’s won’t.
Wilson’s game winner to Rice, which traveled 57 yards in the air, was also, according to Elias, the longest by a rookie inside the two-minute warning since 1999, when Tim Couch threw a 56-yarder on the final play to give Cleveland a 21-16 win at New Orleans.
Wilson, who completed 16 of 23 passes for a career-high 293 yards and no interceptions, jacked his passer rating from 75.6 to 85.6, currently second among the five rookie quarterbacks who made starts Sunday. All but Wilson went in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Wilson also ranks ahead of such veterans as Tony Romo of Dallas (82.1), Sam Bradford of St. Louis (81.3), Matt Stafford of Detroit (79.2), Mark Sanchez of the Jets (70.9) and Matt Cassel of Kansas City (66.2).
Wilson not only delivered a stunning win Sunday, he did it on a day when every other team in the NFC West lost — Arizona to Buffalo (19-16), San Francisco to the New York Giants (26-3) and St. Louis to Miami (17-14).