“It’s kind of like playing backyard football,” Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate said. “(You just have to) find a way to get open. That’s one thing I really like. Although we call one play, it can turn into another play because he’s so blessed in the way he can scramble and run around.”
Wilson is resourceful.
“I believe that I’m mobile,” Wilson said. “I’d love to sit in the pocket all the time and just throw the ball, but in this day and age, the defensive linemen are so talented that you have to be able to move.
“Not all of the time, but sometimes you have to move over one or two (lanes) and have the ability to step up in the pocket. That’s one of my strengths. I try to take advantage of it when it’s there.”
Wilson notes that he won’t face Manning on the field, but relishes that he’ll share it with the one-time Super Bowl winner and four-time MVP.
“To compete against Peyton Manning is an honor and a privilege,” Wilson said. “The generational thing, I think I’m almost 12 or 13 years younger than him. That shows how good he’s been and how consistent he’s been on a regular basis. That’s where I want to be.”
Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft, has proved to be the steal of the draft. He guided the Seahawks to an 11-5 record in 2012 and to 13-3 and the NFC West title this season.
The Seahawks defeated New Orleans (23-15) and San Francisco (23-17) to advance to the Super Bowl, but the road to New Jersey started at the Georgia Dome in last season’s playoffs.
Wilson remembers like yesterday his long stroll off the field after a gut-wrenching 30-28 loss to the Falcons that ended his rookie season.
“Last year, the playoff game that we lost to Atlanta was a playoff game for the ages,” Wilson said. “It was just back and forth. They ended up coming back and (winning).”
The Falcons opened a 20-0 lead. But Wilson led a dazzling comeback. The Seahawks took a 28-27 lead, but left 31 seconds on the clock. That proved to be too much time for Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and Matt Bryant. The Falcons advanced to the NFC Championship game after Bryant made a 49-yard field goal.
“I just remember being disappointed on the field,” Wilson said. “When I was walking through the tunnel at the end of the game, I just remember how focused I was on the next opportunity that we were going to get.”
The stinging loss stayed with Wilson and the Seahawks. He recalls the thoughts that raced through his head during that time of angst.
“I was thinking about having a championship offseason,” a reflective Wilson said. “Doing all of the things that it was going to take to excel this season. Hopefully, have a great year this year. Our goal was to go 1-0 every day. … We’ve had a terrific season so far, and we want to finish it off in the right way. To do that, we need to stay focused on what we need to do to win the football game.
“We need to be calm and be us. Play with a sense of swagger and a sense of poise, too.”
Wilson likely lasted until the third round because he doesn’t have the prototypical height that Manning does. He’s listed at 5-foot-11 by the Seahawks, but his success has been noticed around the league.
“I think without question that Russell has at least turned some heads,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “For the other guys and all the guys who have played before him who didn’t quite get the chance (because of) that same kind of stigma, he has opened up the door.”
There are some similarly sized quarterbacks who could join Wilson in the NFL soon.
“Johnny (Manziel of Texas A&M) is an incredible athlete that might not have been considered as highly before Russell had all this success,” Carroll said. “It’s kind of silly that it had to happen this way because the right thing is to get the best players out there to play, and whatever the results show, that basis is the basis for your opinions of guys. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, but I’m really grateful that we’ve figured that out with Russell.”
Carroll gave general manager John Schneider most of the credit for drafting Wilson.
“John had it pegged perfectly,” Carroll said. “He’d been particularly sweating it out in the second round because he wasn’t sure he was right, of course, but he had it nailed.”
Ironically, Denver has Brock Osweiler, who’s 6-foot-8, emulating Wilson in practice.
“When a play breaks down, he is not going to give up on a play,” Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “Russell has been a good player since he’s gotten into the league. He’s been making plays with his feet and making you think he’s going to run, but then he’ll throw the ball. We have to make sure that we contain him and make sure he doesn’t get out of the pocket.”
Wilson’s style of play quickly won over his teammates.
“He’s just a winner, man,” Seattle offensive left tackle Russell Okung said. “He’s always looking for the great play. He never ceases to amaze me.
“I can’t speak on the other runners that take off, but I can speak on what he does, and you see him make plays all the time with his feet and avoid just getting out of the pocket when things break down and (then) throwing down the field.”
He’s also a charismatic leader.
“You see his heart, and you see how he is committed to it,” Okung said. “You see the way he speaks and the way he carries himself and how he’s always one of the first guys there and the last guys to leave. He’s there all the time and he’s committed to who he is, and those type of guys stick around.
“Those are the type of guys that last.”