SEATTLE – Carson Wentz is a gifted young quarterback with a bright future, but he’ll need to hold off on that MVP award.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player after 12 games this season, hands down. In a game pitting the two MVP candidates Sunday night, Wilson showed America why this is his moment to shine.
Wilson threw three touchdown passes and tossed in some of his running wizardry along the way to lead the Seahawks to a convincing 24-10 victory in a prove-it game for both teams.
And postpone all that talk about the championship era being over for Seattle. As long as Wilson is calling signals, the Seahawks still have a chance to be the team they once were in back-to-back Super Bowls three years ago.
Wilson was 20 of 31 passing for 227 yards and a 118.6 passer rating. He’s had bigger numbers this season, but Wilson was facing the 10-1 Eagles who had won nine consecutive games.
“That was a cool game,’’ Wilson said. “We did our job and executed. It’s December. It’s time to be great.”
Wilson has been great all season, single-handedly keeping the Seahawks in the playoff race before Sunday night when the team did almost everything right.
It wouldn’t matter without Wilson, whose improvisational skills and knowledge of the opponent set him apart. Wilson simply makes plays that few other quarterbacks can make. And he does it at critical moments when the game is on the line.
“I thought Russell was phenomenal,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “I really think it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play. He showed you everything he’s all about. His execution was excellent. His decisions, his checks and the big plays were amazing.”
Wilson was far from a one-man show Sunday. The Seattle defense, playing without Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, played its best game of the season against the best offense in the league.
Philadelphia came in averaging 32 points a game, but had only three points in the first half. This Seattle defense still can dominate a game, despite losing several star players. The Seahawks (8-4) are the only team this season to hold the Eagles under 20 points.
But this was Wilson’s night, a game that showed the nation he is playing at the top of his game when it means the most. A few examples:
On third-and-10 at the Philadelphia 48 in the third quarter of a 10-3 game, Wilson saw the Eagles were in an all-out blitz. He gave a quick nod to Doug Baldwin before the snap. Baldwin took off and Wilson made a perfect throw to Baldwin down the left sideline for a 47-yard play.
On third-and-goal at the 1, Wilson threw to Tyler Lockett on a crossing route for the TD. Wilson earlier threw an 11-yard touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham, the ninth time that have hooked up for a TD in the last eight games.
The key moment of the game came when Wentz fumbled at the 1 in the third quarter while trying to score. The ball rolled out of the end zone. Wilson took advantage of that mistake and led the Seahawks to an 80-yard, 11-play TD drive to take a 17-3 lead.
After the Eagles made it 17-10, early in the fourth quarter, Wilson answered back with a 71-yard TD drive that included his “wow” play if his night. On third and-8 at the Seattle 42, Wilson was forced to run up the middle. Six yards downfield, he somehow saw running back Mike Davis behind him about six yards to his right.
Just before being hit, Wilson lateraled to Davis, who ran for another 17 yards to the Philadelphia 35. Wilson threw a 15-yard TD pass to J.D. McKissic two plays later, but the lateral was classis Russell Wilson, an instinctive moment that changes a game.
“The flip was awesome,’’ Carroll said of the lateral. “The throw to Doug also was an enormous play. And the touchdown pass right after (to Lockett) was exquisite football. Russell was spectacular tonight with the stuff he was able to create. It doesn’t always show up in stats, but his awareness is amazing.”
MVP awareness. Some will argue that Tom Brady is having another MVP season. If Wilson had Brady’s offensive line, who knows what he could accomplish. Wilson is doing more with much less. Entering Sunday’s game, he accounted for 86 percent of the yards from scrimmage for the Seahawks, far more than any other quarterback.
Wilson has now thrown 15 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter this season, something Brady never has done. That's tied for the most in NFL history (Eli Manning, 15 in 2011), and Wilson has four games to go.
“He’s a ballplayer, man,’’ Philadelphia safety Corey Graham said of Wilson. “He’s scrambling, buying time, making guys miss, spinning. We saw it on film and we knew it, but he’s better in person than what it is on film.”
Wentz also had his moments Sunday, passing for 348 yards with one TD and one interception.
“Carson has been playing great all year,’’ Wilson said. “He’s going to be one best for a long time.”
Yes he is, but he isn’t Wilson. No one is.
“I try to just do my job, which is help our team win,’’ Wilson said. “I try to make our other 10 guys better and they make me look good.”
Wilson talks about team goals over personal goals, but earlier this week when asked about the MVP award, Wilson said, “I want to be the best player in the world.”
He’s well on his way to getting what he wants.