Russell Wilson is an ideal quarterback for a Pete Carroll-coached team for a number of reasons. Wilson has the accuracy and big arm to create explosive plays, he takes care of the football—a must if you play for Carroll—and his athleticism makes him a nightmare for opposing defenses, something a defensive-minded coach can really appreciate.
But one of the biggest reasons why Carroll and Wilson are such a good fit together is that they share an uncommon level of in-game optimism that can help keep a team calm even in high-stress situations. Carroll lives life feeling like something good is about to happen, and Wilson plays quarterback believing that, no matter how things have gone up to a particular point, good things are going to happen for him and his offense.
"We really see eye-to-eye on that," Carroll said. "That's just the way I've been for a long time… He and I are pretty much figuring it's going to happen, we're going to get it done. So as we talk and we feed off one another, I'm not wanting to do anything but to support him pretty much, because we see it just the same. I really love that about him. It's pretty strong, and we're very similar in that regard."
That belief that "it's going to happen" has helped turn Wilson into one of the best late-game quarterbacks in his era, and it's a big reason why he was able to lead a three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to win Sunday's game against the Texans moments after throwing what could have been a game-deciding interception.
Moments after Wilson threw that interception, Wilson got together with his teammates and told them, "Hey, have no fear. Let's go do this thing… I told them, 'Hey we're going to get the ball back, our defense is going to make a stop, we'll get the ball back, we're probably going to have a minute and 40 seconds left.'"
The Seahawks indeed got the ball back with 1:39 left, they marched down the field and they won the game. Wilson could make that prediction so accurately because he has lived through so many games like that one, and more often than not, come out on top. The win marked the 23rd time in Wilson's career, postseason included, that he has led a game-winning drive with the Seahawks tied or trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime. That's the most in the NFL since Wilson's rookie season, and he already ranks 39th in NFL history, with everyone ahead of Wilson on that list having played considerably longer than his six-plus seasons. It was also Wilson's 19th fourth-quarter comeback, which is tied for 31st all time, and again, Wilson trails players with significantly longer careers.
"He's way off the charts in what he has done fourth-quarter wise, the comebacks and all that kind of stuff," Carroll said. "I don't know what they are, but he's got to be way up there, it's happened so often. It's his belief that it's going to happen, unwavering confidence that he'll be able to figure it out and do what he needs to do. I think also his ability to uplift the guys around him. I heard Jimmy (Graham) talking about that after the game—his poise and his presence affect people around him. And he has been the beneficiary of a long steady climb to understand and command these situations. He's really well prepared and well-schooled. There's nobody I can imagine wanting more than that guy back there if you've got to come back and get it done. That's a great strength on our club."
As Carroll noted, Graham discussed Wilson's late-game demeanor Sunday, saying, "His will to win and his will to overcome is like no other… It's crazy because at those moments, 3 has the most confidence you've ever seen. It's just unbelievable, his mindset and his focus at those times, how upbeat he is. You believe every time, if there is 20 seconds left on the clock that we are going to score, that we are going to get that Hail Mary. It was just unbelievable, his actions and his demeanor in the huddle was unbelievable."
The mindset and focus, the will to win, those are reasons, as much as physical ability, why Wilson has an NFL-best 130.3 fourth-quarter passer rating this season, and why he's been one of the best late-game quarterbacks of his generation.
"His mentality throughout with all the stuff that was going on—we were playing from behind most of the time it felt like—and he had to keep bringing us back and bringing us back, and he just was in it every moment of it," Carroll said. "And finally, the fact that he was so calm and so poised after throwing a pick that could have ended the football game, he came right back and took us right back down the field in just perfect fashion."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8 at CenturyLink Field.