Three of the four quarterbacks slated to play for their postseason lives in this Sunday's conference championship games will be wearing No. 12 - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
The fourth - Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson - will be backed by 67,000-plus rabid fans representing No. 12 at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
It's just one of the odd parallels uniting the NFL's four remaining quarterbacks, as Wilson's Seahawks ready to host Rodgers' Packers in the NFC Championship game and Brady's Patriots welcome Luck's Colts to New England for the AFC Championship game.
|THE FINAL FOUR|
For the first time in 21 years - and second time ever - three of the final four playoff teams are quarterbacked by a Super Bowl champion, with Seattle's Russell Wilson (2013), New England's Tom Brady (2001, 2003, 2004), and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (2010) owning an NFL championship, and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck on the outside looking in.
The other Super Bowl-winning trio came during the 1983 season, when the Raiders' Jim Plunkett, Redskins' Joe Theismann, and 49ers' Joe Montana did battle. The odd QB out in that year's conference title games? The Seahawks' Dave Krieg.
Here's a look at how 2014's final four QBs fared (regular season & postseason combined) in their first three years as a starter:
|Player||Years||Record||Win %||Super Bowls|
- Brady did not start the first two games for the Patriots in 2001
Sunday's conference title tilts also feature two quarterbacks from the Big-Ten (Wilson, Wisconsin & Brady, Michigan) and two from the Pac-12 (Rodgers, Cal & Luck, Stanford).
Two signal callers in Sunday's championship round were first-round draft picks (Luck, No. 1 overall, 2012 & Rodgers, No. 24 overall, 2005) and two were taken in the draft's later rounds (Wilson, No. 75 overall, 2012 & Brady, No. 199 overall, 2000).
And for the first time in 21 years, three of the NFL's final-four teams are quarterbacked by a Super Bowl champion, with Wilson's Seahawks serving as the defending champs, Rodgers' Packers taking the trophy in 2010, and Brady's Patriots claiming rings in 2001, 2003, and 2004.
But perhaps the major unifying factor these four quarterbacks share is that they've found consistent ways to win. After all, they wouldn't be at this stage of the postseason if they hadn't.
For the Seahawks' Wilson specifically, it's a characteristic Seattle head coach Pete Carroll believes puts his quarterback among the NFL's best.
"I do feel that. Maybe not everybody else feels that at this point, but I certainly do because we cherish his ability to help his team win," Carroll said on Monday, two days removed from his team's 31-17 divisional-round playoff win over the Carolina Panthers. "He does that. He's a real winner. He'll find a way. Of all of the qualities of quarterbacks of the history of these guys, the great ones are able to do that. And they're not all the same style, or the same size, or the same makeup. They have their ways about them.
"He's off to an incredible start to a career and it's really highlighted by winning."
That much has rung true through Wilson's first three seasons in the League. He owns an overall record (regular season and postseason combined) of 41-13, willing the Seahawks to wins in 75.9 percent of their games. Those 41 wins are the most all-time by a quarterback in his first three years and his 36 regular-season victories are the most-ever by a quarterback through their first three seasons in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
Yet a common perception surrounding Wilson's winning ways has been tied to the play of one of the League's most-dominant defenses. There's no doubt that the way Seattle has played on the other side of the football has helped Wilson win, but the Seahawks quarterback has made his fair share of plays when it's mattered most.
Take this past Sunday's divisional-round win over the Panthers for example. Wilson completed 15 of his 22 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. All three of Wilson's scores came on third down - where Wilson was a perfect 8-for-8 for 199 yards - and on explosive plays of 16 yards or more - a 16-yard lob to wide receiver Doug Baldwin, a 63-yard find to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse that doubled as the longest postseason passing play in franchise history, and a 25-yard dish to tight end Luke Willson.
The outing resulted in Wilson posting the second-highest passer-rating of his career - a 149.2 mark that ranked as the fifth-highest postseason rating of all-time and made Wilson the highest-rated passer (min. 150 attempts) in NFL postseason history. His 109.6 all-time playoff mark edged out Rodgers' rating of 105.3, adding another interesting angle to this week's title game between the two clubs.
"Sometimes I think I'm made for these situations," Wilson said following his team's win over Carolina on Saturday night. "I just try to be prepared for it. When you're prepared, you're never scared. You just go. You trust your teammates, you trust the guys you have around you, you trust the preparation, you trust that the balls going to bounce your way, and I just believe that."
Carroll agreed with his quarterback's assessment, putting faith in Wilson's relentless work ethic and unwavering confidence as the Seahawks train for true championship opportunities.
"As each success builds from one another you get that sense that you can do stuff right and you can pull off the plays that you need to pull off and get it done and the guys should execute better because of that," said Carroll. "I think that's what you see in Russell. He really trusts what's going on and what's brought him to this point where he really believes in himself."
Sunday's contest against the Packers brings an opportunity for Wilson to improve to 4-0 in postseason games at home, where he's completed 40-of-65 passes for 586 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions for a 111.4 passer rating. The preparation will start on the practice field, where Wilson and the Seahawks will be on "Competition Wednesday" following Tuesday's players day off.
"I can't see anybody in the National Football League working harder than us," he said. "If there's a team that works harder than us, I have to give them a lot of credit. When you work that hard every day, you give yourself a really, really good chance to win a lot of football games."