NFL Conference Championship Recap: At QB, it’ll be an old master vs. a new one

WASHINGTON — I’m sold. Russell Wilson is elite.

Note there’s no question mark at the end of that sentence. I didn’t type “LOL” after it either. I’m dead serious. Wilson’s performance in Seattle’s epic 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC Championship game proved to me he’s the goods.

I know it sounds crazy to anoint a guy who appeared to get bailed out by his defense and special teams (who, by the way, scored a TD on a fake field goal and recovered a huge onside kick to set up the go-ahead score in the 4th quarter — SPECIAL TEAMS MATTER!), but this oddly makes me believe in the kid even more than before.

Think about it. Dude shrugged off a first half that was so bad even Robert Griffin III had to be pointing and laughing. Wilson completed more passes (three) to Packer defenders than to his own teammates (two). He had a whopping 12 passing yards and his team was down 16-0 at halftime.

The second half didn’t look much better for a while. Seattle had to resort to some fake-field-goal trickeration to get their first score, and the fourth quarter was damn near over by the time the offense finally chipped in with a rushing touchdown by Wilson.

That’s where he got DangeRuss. (If you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see what I did there.) The zone read started clicking, Beast Mode was activated, and the Seahawks banded together to score 15 points in 44 seconds to take a late lead. In overtime, Wilson accounted for all but 8 of the lone possession’s 87 yards — 35 of which came on Wilson’s walk-off touchdown pass to Washington-native Jermaine Kearse.

As awful as Wilson was to start, he finished 14 of 29 for 209 yards, adding 2 total touchdowns. It’s easy for a young player to get down on himself after throwing so many early picks, but Wilson never doubted himself or his team. As a result, he’s just the second QB in NFL history to throw four INTs and win a conference championship game. The other? George Blanda in 1961.

That’s not the only history Wilson is making. He’s the first quarterback to start two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. He’s thrown for 82 TDs and only 31 INTs over that span despite lacking elite targets to throw to. He’s the best dual threat in the game (his experience playing baseball has certainly helped, given he’s the best QB at sliding and knowing when to slide).

Believe me: Seattle isn’t the first team in a decade to go to back-to-back Super Bowls without number 3 under center. Yes, there’s a great team in place around Wilson, but that can be said about Joe Montana and Tom Brady. The mark of a champion and a future Hall of Famer is being a guy who doesn’t quit when nothing seems to be going his way. A man who shrugs off an awful three and a half quarters and balls out in the clutch.

Wilson proved himself to be that guy Sunday.

After the game, Seahawk defensive end Michael Bennett said, “He’s the best quarterback in the league right now, man. He’s a $150 million quarterback, in my view.”

Mine too. Luckily for Seattle, Wilson is probably too humble to ask for it. Which furthers my belief that if I were starting an expansion team from scratch, my first pick would be Russell Wilson — and I would win sooner rather than later.

Now for the next-to-last recap of the season:
Packers 22
Seahawks 28 (OT)

Wilson made some big plays down the stretch, and I know I just spent the majority of the recap gushing over the guy, but Seattle only goes as far as Beast Mode carries them. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 157 yards Sunday, his 5th 100-yard performance in 9 career postseason games. The Seahawks better find a way to keep this dude.

If you thought Fail Mary was bad (and for the ref that botched it, it still really is), this will go down as a much more painful loss for Green Bay. Forcing five turnovers is great, but if you only get six points out of them, you’re rarely going to beat anyone on the road.

Colts 7
Patriots 45

Hey Ray Lewis: If Tom Brady is only known for the Tuck Rule, then you’re only known for a double homicide. Brady tore up the Indy secondary for 226 yards and 3 TDs — in the rain — to become the league’s all-time leading postseason passer and the first QB to start in six Super Bowls. He now has 20 postseason victories, which is more than 21 current NFL franchises. If he picks apart the Legion of Boom in Arizona, that undoes whatever perceived failures he had in the two championship losses to the Giants.

Speaking of failures, how about that no-show by Andrew Luck? He’s now 0-4 against the Pats in his young career — but knowing this kid, that makes it likely he’ll end up beating Brady and Belichick the next time he sees them.

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Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on WTOP.com.

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