SEATTLE - Long after the Seahawks had secured a wild, back-and-forth victory over the Rams, when most of Seattle's players had cleared out of the locker room, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walked across the room towards quarterback Russell Wilson. The two shared a big hug as Carroll grinned from ear to ear, then they chatted for a few minutes, and then they hugged again.
Both knew this was a special night for Wilson, even in relation to the incredibly high standard he has set over his eight-year career.
"I thought Russell played one of the best games I've ever seen him play," Carroll had said in his postgame press conference a few minutes earlier. "… I just thought Russ stole the show tonight as he did so much, and on top of what he has done to start the season off in great fashion. So I'm really fired up for him and our team, and our guys are really excited to be able to cheer for him in that way tonight."
Wilson, who threw four more touchdowns in a 30-29 win over the Rams, giving him 12 this season without an interception, wasn't ready to make any big proclamations about his performance, but did say moments after that embrace with his coach, "I left it all out on the field. Coach and I were just talking about that. It was one of the best, I think."
In a close game in which the Seahawks needed every big play they could get in all three phases, Wilson led the way, completing 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and a 151.8 passer rating. According to NFL Research, Wilson is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw for 1,400 yards, 12 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first five games of a season.
"He's been playing MVP level all season, man," left tackle Duane Brown said. "He has been doing this his whole career. I know a lot has been said about his performance thus far this season, but he has been doing it every year. He's just amazing, man, he's just amazing… He's a generational talent. He's a Hall of Fame player, and I'm just glad he's on my team."
With the start Wilson has gotten off to this season, he will indeed find himself right in the middle of the MVP conversation if Seattle keeps winning, and while his teammates have come to expect great things out of him, even those who have played with him for years are particularly impressed by what they have seen early this season.
"Russ has been a dog, Russ has been good since he came into this league," K.J. Wright said. "People are starting to talk about the MVP stuff, and I believe he's definitely in the conversation. He's just got to keep continuing it and keep leading this offense… What he does is phenomenal. It never gets old. You can't take that stuff for granted, because a lot of quarterbacks in the league can't do that. He can sit in the pocket and dice guys up, he can get out on the run and dice guys up. He's tremendous."
Wilson's opponents notice that about him as well.
"Russell Wilson's playing out of his mind right now," Rams safety Eric Weddle said.
But while Wilson has been doing great things his entire career, and particularly this season, this game stood out even in an exemplary body of work. With the Rams scoring 29 points, the Seahawks needed every one of Wilson's big throws, and what his spectacular stat line doesn't show was just how good some of those throws were. From pinpoint accuracy on deep balls to miraculous escapes that he turned into big plays, to one of the best throws and catches you'll ever see, a 13-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett, Wilson was dialed in throughout the night.
So good was Wilson's touchdown to Lockett in the back of the end zone—one that saw him scramble, roll to his left, then float a ball towards the back pylon where Lockett somehow made the catch while dragging both feet in the corner of the end zone—even someone who has played with him for six seasons initially thought his quarterback was just throwing the ball away to live another down.
"I thought he was throwing it away," center Justin Britt said. "… He played exceptional. He led us with unwavering confidence throughout the night. His belief is unreal. The thing about Russ is that he knows how to spread it, he knows how to make it contagious. His leadership rubs off on other people. I say it all the time, he's one of the best in the league, one of the best I've ever seen play quarterback, and he's having one of those years."
Of course for Wilson, the best play wasn't the most spectacular, but rather the one that put the Seahawks ahead for good—though that touchdown pass to Chris Carson on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line was pretty good as well. While the throw itself wasn't that difficult, it was what led up to it that made the play so good. Wilson had to step up in the pocket to avoid initial pressure, and for a moment it looked like he might run for the go-ahead score, but when he noticed that Aqib Talib left Carson because of the threat of the run, Wilson was able to flip an easy pass over the oncoming Talib to a wide-open Carson, who secured the touchdown after initially giving fans a scare by bobbling the pass, which he said he lost in the lights.
"My favorite throw was the game-winning one," Wilson said. "You play the game to win. You don't play the game to get close. I think that was the one we needed."
Of course, for Wilson the focus now won't be on padding his stats or improving an MVP candidacy, but rather on just coming back out ready to help his team play well in Week 6.
"I just try to be consistent," he said. "Bobby (Wagner) and I always have a saying, don't get bored with consistency. That's my thing, stay consistent, stay the course, let wins speak for themselves. I think it's about winning. That's why I come to play the game. It's not about me, it's about winning, about other guys, about us and about whatever we can do. I'm blessed to have great teammates and great coaches and great fans too. We get to do this thing together."
But even if Wilson wouldn't make too big of a deal over his performance, everyone watching couldn't help but notice that this was a special night for the quarterback.
"I can't even remember all those plays," Carroll said. "There's so many plays where I'm thinking, 'Russ, get down!' And all of a sudden he pops out and he's still going, and we start over again. And then he finds somebody and makes a 20-yard play. Must have happened five or six times tonight. The touchdown to Lock, the touchdown to Chris. So many huge plays, the pass to Rashaad (Penny) up the sidelines. The great throw and catch that (Will Dissly) gets on his play, the one up the sidelines. I thought he was spectacular. I don't remember him being that on, that thoroughly in the game in really difficult situations. It wasn't just a classic in the pocket, throw the football. He was having to create and do stuff all night long. I thought his play was exquisite, awesome."