GLENDALE, Ariz.—When Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things Thursday night, making defenders look silly to set up a big play, this time a 54-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks quarterback couldn't help but wonder if he had a little help on that play.
Playing on what would have been Harrison Wilson III's 63rd birthday, Wilson thought his late father might have lent a helping hand on what for just about any other quarterback would have been an impossible play.
"I think the play to Doug, I think that was him shining down, it was like 'Angels in the Outfield,'" Wilson said, referencing the 1994 movie in which actual angels aid the baseball-playing Angels of Anaheim.
Prior to the game, Wilson was more emotional than usual getting ready in the locker room, and he took the field wearing shoes with a small handwritten message: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD Nov. 9, 1954."
Wilson then proceeded to go out and help lead the Seahawks to an important road victory over the Cardinals, completing 22 of 32 passes for 237 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 111.2 passer rating. And perhaps with a little help from his dad, Wilson and Baldwin made the play of the game to help give the Seahawks some fourth-quarter breathing room.
"It meant a lot, it meant a lot," Wilson said of playing and winning on his dad's birthday. "Just thinking about my dad, thinking about all the things he did for me and just how much he meant to me. He died seven years ago, and his birthday was November 9, so this day really meant a lot to me. I was pretty emotional before the game in the locker room. I'm just grateful, just grateful to be able to have such a great dad and mom who gave me the opportunity to do what I get to do now."
As for that particular play, Wilson rolled left to start, but was almost immediately under pressure from a pair of Cardinals defenders, including Chandler Jones, who has 10 sacks this season. After spinning away from pressure twice, Wilson threw up the football equivalent of a fade-away jumper in Baldwin's direction, and Baldwin outleapt his defender, landing in bounds, then sprinted down the sideline for a 54-yard gain. One play later, Wilson hit Jimmy Graham in the end zone for the tight end's second touchdown of the game.
"I saw Chandler Jones, and when you see him right there, that's never a good thing," Wilson said. "So I was trying to find a way to get some space and get away from him, get away from him, then I spun twice, and gave Doug a chance to make a play. It was one-on-one, and I don't think anybody can cover Doug one-one-one—he's pretty special—so I just gave him a chance and he made a play."
Seeing the play unfold was just as impressive for players on the field as it was for fans watching at home or in the stadium.
"Houdini play," center Justin Britt said. "I had a front-row seat. I was trying to catch up to Russ while he was spinning out three defenders and next thing I see, I see the ball and I think he throws it away. Then I see Doug jump like 30 feet in the air and grab that ball and take off. I thought he was going to score, but I guess the guy had an angle on him."
The play was crazy enough that, having not yet seen a replay, Baldwin couldn't even recall exactly what had happened.
"I was in the middle, can't remember what happened initially," he said. "I thought he was going to take off running, so I engaged (in a block), then I looked back and he was spinning, so I don't know, I was just trying to figure it out on the fly."
What Baldwin didn't need a replay to know was that the play was one that only Wilson could have made.
"How many (quarterbacks) can do what he did? One. One. Just one," said Baldwin, who had five catches for 95 yards.
And that Wilson-to-Baldwin connection wasn't memorable just for its degree of difficulty, it also helped break open what to that point had been a tight game.
"First to get that close to the red zone, then be able to cap it off with a score, it sealed the game for us," Baldwin said. "It put the Cardinals offense in a hurry-up mode, which lends itself to our benefit on defense, so yeah, it was a big momentum swing for us."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll concurred, saying, "It really was kind of an ignitor. We needed to get separate on the score, they were hanging right in there at 15-10. We needed to get out, and it became a two-score deal… That was an extraordinary play."
For the Cardinals, the play was as deflating as it was exhilarating for Seattle.
"It hurt," defensive lineman Olsen Pierre told reporters in the Cardinals locker room. "It's like a game-winning three in basketball. When it happens, it just takes the energy out of everybody."
Added linebacker Karlos Dansby, "He made a play that will probably go down in history."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 22-16 victory over the in Week 10 at University of Phoenix Stadium.