“We get another opportunity,” said Wilson, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback and the architect of a 24-14 victory that eliminated the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
These are gifts — the health of both legs and another game next weekend — that, for now, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III no longer has. Griffin’s season is finished, and it’s unclear how badly injured his right knee is.
Wilson was, Sunday evening, and now in the broader arena of the 2012 season, the last rookie quarterback standing. Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick last April, and his Indianapolis Colts lost earlier Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin, selected by the Redskins with the No. 2 pick, also is done.
Wilson was a third-rounder, the No. 75 overall choice, and his season continues. In a season defined by transcendent talent among the three first-year quarterbacks, Wilson is the only one with a playoff win.
“All you heard all year was Luck, RGIII, those guys, but Russell burst on the scene,” Rice said. “. . . You’ve definitely got to put him at the top of the list.”
Like Griffin, Wilson is a versatile player with the ability to scramble and outrun defenders, and with that comes an increased threat level. Teammates said they winced sometimes this season when the 5-foot-11 (as he’s generously listed) Wilson took a particularly hard hit, breathing relief when he popped back up.
“I hate to see him get hit,” said fullback Michael Robinson. “It really upsets me. He’s a tough little man. As he goes, we go.”
The same could’ve been said about the Redskins and Griffin, and a debate will smolder in Washington and throughout the NFL during the offseason. The topics will be who was responsible for Griffin remaining in the game on a Sunday evening in Landover — a young player who could not embrace his limits or a head coach who could have, and maybe should have, prevented this.
The one that will circulate through Seattle will be about the poise of a young quarterback who was overlooked because of his size and who outlasted the rest.
“He should be the rookie of the year,” Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said.
He might be, and if so, it will be because Wilson just kept surviving and surprising. Wilson beat out Matt Flynn for the starting job after an outstanding preseason and his teammates learned to follow his lead because of his actions.
He orchestrated comebacks and blowouts, helping Seattle to seven wins in its final eight games. Over time, he stopped being seen as undersize and even seen as a rookie. He was just the Seahawks’ quarterback.
He did it again Sunday, rallying his team from a 14-0 deficit. Tight end Zach Miller said Wilson was never nervous or anxious; there was no rookie in the huddle.
“I kept telling them,” Wilson said, “we’ve been here before.”
After the win, Wilson said he prayed for Griffin. It was a classy thing to say and a nicer thing to do. It is what a mature rookie says about another mature rookie, with similar abilities and advanced leadership. It is what a rookie quarterback says when he has his health and another week to demonstrate his abilities.
“Everybody believes in him,” Robinson said, “and I’m glad we’ve got him.”