Column: Wilson stands tall as only rookie QB left

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 06, 2013
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Columnist This was always going to be one of those once in a decade quarterback classes, even before Russell Wilson announced his arrival from what is arguably the loneliest outpost in the NFL. Everyone expected big things out of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. Wilson was more of a pleasant surprise, catapulted from third-round obscurity to what passes for football stardom in a city far removed from the media spotlight. Now he's the only rookie quarterback left in the playoffs. Next thing you know, he'll get some Subway commercials of his own - or maybe something even better. A rookie quarterback winning a Super Bowl? The way Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have been playing, the notion is no longer so unimaginable. On a Sunday that was painful for RG3 and brutal for Luck, it was the undersized and once-unappreciated Wilson who emerged a star. He played with the calmness and efficiency of a veteran, rallying the Seahawks from a 14-0 deficit against the Washington Redskins almost before he had a chance to fasten his chin strap. And if you didn't know enough about him before, one look at Wilson racing downfield to block for Marshawn Lynch on the go-ahead touchdown should get everyone excited about this kid. ''Marshawn always tells me, `Russ I got your back,''' Wilson said. ''I let him know I have his back, too.'' What was billed as a matchup of young stars turned into a mismatch of sorts when Griffin reinjured the knee he sprained a month ago and limped noticeably from the first quarter on. He wasn't coming out, and coach Mike Shanahan wasn't taking him out, a pair of decisions that will be debated. Football is a game of pain, and Griffin played on. But a running quarterback who can't run is not exactly a recipe for playoff success, and he struggled mightily. When the night finally ended for him late in the fourth quarter, he lay crumpled on the turf at FedEx Field after fumbling and then collapsing with his leg twisted around him in a frightening moment for anyone watching. Among those who were watching was Wilson, who went to a knee and prayed for his fellow rookie. ''He's a tremendous football player,'' Wilson said. ''I just prayed he was all right.'' Just how bad the injury is won't be known until Griffin gets an MRI on Monday. He said after the 24-14 loss that he wasn't sure himself whether he had further injured it. But the dreadlocked rookie star made it clear that standing on the sideline watching the game wasn't an option. He carried the Redskins into the playoffs, and they weren't going to play without him. ''I had to go out there and do what I could to help the team win,'' he said. ''Period.'' It was a disconcerting end to a spectacular season for Griffin, whose personality and promise got him sandwich shop commercials even before he started winning games for the Redskins. He and Luck started the year as the most talked about pair of quarterbacks coming into the NFL in years, and both lived up to their billing by carrying their teams into the playoffs. Luck, though, couldn't overcome a Baltimore defense fired up by the pending retirement of Ray Lewis. Luck was pressured all day, and his receivers dropping six passes didn't help as Indianapolis was eliminated 24-9 by the Ravens. And while Griffin looked as though he would pile up some points for the Redskins by opening the game with two touchdown drives, he felt the knee go while planting to pass on the second drive and was never the same. By halftime, his team was barely clinging to the lead, and he faced a talk with Shanahan about his immediate future. On that, both agreed. He had gotten them this far, and deserved the chance to take them even further. ''He said, `Trust me, I want to be in there. I deserve to be in there,''' Shanahan said. ''I couldn't disagree with him.'' Almost lost in the debate over whether Griffin should have stayed in was that Wilson still had some work to do to bring the Seahawks back. He did it on a fourth-quarter drive that Lynch capped off a 27-yard, broken-field run - with Wilson barreling ahead of him to block at the goal line. That's hardly surprising because the quarterback that even Seattle didn't really seem to want when training camp opened - the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to a lucrative offseason deal to be their No. 1 - always seems to flourish when it matters most. Wilson doesn't play with the proverbial chip on his shoulder because he felt slighted in the NFL draft, but the whole team plays that way because Seattle wasn't even in the postseason discussion when the year began. ''I don't know,'' Wilson said when asked if he had felt left out of the rookie quarterback discussion. ''The goal is to win a lot of games and help my football team win games. That's all I know.'' Something else Wilson should know is he's two wins away from being the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks will have to do it on the road, but they're peaking at just the right time and are just slight underdogs in Atlanta next Sunday. Who knows, soon there may be a lot of people ending their sentences with a ''Go `Hawks!'' the way Wilson likes to end his. If it sounds a bit collegiate, just remember he is still a rookie quarterback. Only now there's something different. He's the only one left. ---- Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker