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NFL

Russell Wilson Had An MVP Kind Of Night

Jonathan Jones #31 of the New England Patriots attempts to tackle Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks
Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty

Here’s an odd little tidbit that the Sunday Night Football crew brought up during the Patriots-Seahawks thriller: Russell Wilson has never in his career even received one vote for the Most Valuable Player award. Never! Not in 2013, the year he helped lead the Seahawks to Super Bowl glory in a blowout of MVP winner Peyton Manning. Not in 2017, when he led the league with 34 touchdowns. And not last year, when a 10-2 start for the Seahawks had people thinking this was finally his time, until a disappointing end to the season left him with nothing but recognition from Pro Football Focus as their leader in WAR.

But even if he’s never gotten individual awards recognition for any one spectacular season, Wilson is among the best QBs of his generation. He and Aaron Rodgers are the only two quarterbacks who hold a career passer rating over 100; he’s won a higher percentage of his games than any active QB besides Tom Brady; and in the playoffs the quality of his performances does not dip.

Wilson showed all the things that have made him a consistent stud for eight years in Sunday’s Seahawks win over the Pats, throwing five TDs for the fourth time in his career against a defense that ranked best in the league last season in both points and yards allowed. Picking up where he left off in Week 1 against Atlanta, where he went 31-of-35 for four TDs, Wilson completed 75 percent of his passes for an average of 12.25 yards per attempt, with his lone interception coming early in the game on a ball that absolutely should have been caught by Greg Olsen.

Depending on your capacity to be amazed, somewhere between three and all five of Wilson’s scoring throws were absolute beauties. Thankfully, NBC collected all of them into a 30-second package:

A trio of tosses were just these big looping balls that found their targets far downfield. Another came when Wilson used his feet to buy time for his receiver to get open, and yet another happened when Freddie Swain became invisible to New England for about 10 seconds. The big throw to D.K. Metcalf to tie the game at 14 in the second quarter deserves a special spotlight, as it’s the kind of thing that will lead off Wilson’s highlight reels if his season is as memorable as portended.

Despite Wilson’s stellar play, however, I was worried in the last two minutes of Sunday night that the biggest throw of his game would be the one throw that he couldn’t make. A third-and-one deep shot under two minutes flew too far out of reach for Tyler Lockett and handed the ball back to the Patriots. But despite the seeming inevitability of a Bill Belichick team driving for the win in primetime, the Seahawks defense held strong for their QB and disrupted Cam Newton at the exact moment they had to, preserving the win and establishing Seattle as an early favorite out of the NFC.

With his performance, Wilson became one of only a few QBs to throw at least four TDs in each of his team’s first two games, and he pairs those nine touchdowns with just 11 incompletions on 63 attempts. After the victory, he had several different ways to describe how good he was feeling.

“Definitely in the zone,” he said. “Locked in. Focused. Dialed in.”