Russell Wilson’s numbing numbers set several records

Posted Feb 5, 2013

No one, including coach Pete Carroll, knew exactly what to expect when rookie Russell Wilson was named the Seahawks’ starting quarterback. But what he delivered was a series of record-setting performances.

Have we written too much about Russell Wilson? Is it possible to write enough about the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback?

Despite the sun setting on the team’s highly successful 2012 season in its divisional-round playoff loss to the Falcons in Atlanta on Jan. 13, Wilson’s star has continued to soar. He took the Pro Bowl by storm two weeks later in Honolulu, leading five consecutive scoring drives to open the second half – including three touchdown passes – as the NFC skated to a 62-35 victory. Last week, Wilson was the darling of radio row during the activities leading up to the Sunday’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, where it also was announced that he won Rookie of the Year honors on Saturday night while finishing third in the race for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Peter King takes a look at the impact Wilson and his fellow rookie QBs had on the just-concluded season – especially the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck, who finished ahead of Wilson in the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.

“As running threats with great arms force defenses to change on the fly, Sunday games look an awful lot like Saturday’s (college game),” King writes.

He also quotes Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as saying, “When we gave Russell the job, I thought, ‘Well, buckle up: it’s gonna be a Disney ride.’ It wasn’t conventional thinking. But conventional thinking, that’s not always what wins.”

So consider the following an exercise in explaining why so much was written about Wilson during his rookie season:

Touchdown passes – Wilson threw 26 during the regular season to tie the NFL rookie record set by Peyton Manning in 1998. Wilson then threw three more in the Seahawks’ two playoff games (Manning did not play in the postseason as a rookie for the Colts).

Wilson also threw game-winning TD passes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime three times – against the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears – which was the most by a rookie QB since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970.

And with seemingly everything he did this season, Wilson only got better – and more proficient – when it came to throwing TD passes versus interceptions. In the first five games, when the Seahawks were 3-2, Wilson had five TD passes and six interceptions. Over the final 11 regular-season games, when the Seahawks went 8-3, Wilson threw 21 TD passes and four interceptions. And he kept it going when it counted even more, with three TD passes and one interception in the postseason.

Passer rating – The NFL rookie record had been 98.1 by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. But Wilson (100.0) and RGIII (102.4) each surpassed it this season. A huge factor in that was Wilson (plus-16) and RGIII (plus-15) also bettering the league rookie record mark for TD/interception differential that was set by the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Mario in 1983 (plus-13).

Wilson’s passer rating also broke the club single-season record of 98.2 that was set by Matt Hasselbeck during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run in 2005.

Wilson finished fourth in the league in passer rating during the regular season behind the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (108.0), Denver Broncos’ Manning (105.8) and RGIII. His passer rating in the red zone (107.5, with 18 TDs and no interceptions) was third-best in the league behind the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (112.7) and Rodgers (109.9).

He also fashioned a passer rating of 125-plus in three consecutive games against the Minnesota Vikings (127.3), New York Jets (131.0) and Miami Dolphins (125.0), which set another NFL rookie record.

Wilson became the first rookie QB to begin his career 8-0 at home, and his passer rating of 123.6 at CenturyLink Field during the regular season led the league for home games – with Manning (112.3), Brees (103.4), the Houston Texans’ Matt Schaub (101.7) and Rodgers (101.3) rounding out the Top 5.

And, again, Wilson was even better in the postseason, when his 102.4 rating broke the rookie record of 92.7 that was set by the Jets’ Mark Sanchez in 2009. Wilson also had more passing yards in the postseason (572) and in a single postseason game (385) than any rookie in league history – topping the marks set in 2009 by Sanchez (539) and in 1937 by the Redskins’ Sammy Baugh (335). 

Completion percentage – By completing 252 of 392 passes during the regular season, Wilson’s completion percentage of .641 ranks third all-time among rookie QBs behind Roethlisberger (.664) and RGIII (.657).

Wilson was almost as good in the postseason (.629, 39 of 62) to rank fifth among the playoff QBs behind Schaub (.708), the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (.701), Rodgers (.681) and Manning (.651).

Team records – Wilson also rewrote the passing section of the Seahawks’ record book, in rookie as well as overall categories.

Using the zone-read, not to mention the punishing presence of All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, Wilson ran for more yards (489) than any QB in franchise history – bettering the mark of 343 set by Rick Mirer in 1993. Wilson also had the top two single-game rushing performances – 92 yards against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, when he also ran for three TDs; and 71 against the Chicago Bears in Week 13. Jim Zorn’s 63 yards from a game in 1976 had been the record.

In the game against the Bills in Toronto, Wilson became the first player in NFL history to have three rushing TDs and also pass for a score in the first half of a game.

He also broke the club rookie records for passer rating (100.0; old mark 67.0 by Mirer), completion percentage (.641; .564 by Mirer), passing yards (3,118; 2,833 by Mirer) and percent of TD passes (6.6; 2.73 by Zorn).

Wilson completed an NFL rookie record 16 consecutive passes in Week 12 against the Dolphins, which was one shy of the club record set by Warren Moon in 1998.

In addition, Wilson led the Seahawks to the third-best record in club history (11-5) and the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983. Along the way, he won head-to-head matchups against Rodgers and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, who have combined for three league MVP awards and 11 Pro Bowl berths; the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, last season’s AP Offensive Rookie of Year; the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo and RGIII.

With all of that said, there’s only one thing left to say. And anyone who saw any interview with Wilson during his rookie season knows what’s coming: Go Hawks.