Sometimes, as an athlete, you define yourself in a losing effort. And in the year of the rookie quarterback, it was the last one standing who may have just done that. Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks came into the 2012 NFL season as a too-short third-round pick who wasn't expected to start.
Wilson ended his rookie campaign with two very interesting rookie records -- most touchdowns thrown (29, if you count the postseason), and most passing yards in a postseason effort. In the Seahawks' 30-28 divisional-round loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson threw for 385 yards on 24 completions in 36 attempts, breaking the yardage mark set by Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins in 1937.
Of course, Baugh set his mark of 335 yards when the forward pass was a bit of an oddity, but it seems appropriate that Wilson broke that record, as he's been a bit of an oddity ever since he entered the NFL from Wisconsin. The shortest starting quarterback in the NFL also threw the fewest passes of any 16-game starter in the regular season, but whenever the Seahawks needed him to provide big plays down the stretch, he did so.
From the start of the second half of the season, when head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell opened up the playbook, Wilson threw 162 completions in 245 attempts for 2,224 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He also ran for 488 yards and five touchdowns on 73 carries.
Even with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III very much in the discussion as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Wilson blazed a trail few expected him to as a legitimate franchise quarterback, and never more so when the Seahawks most needed him. Down 20-0 at the half against the Falcons, Wilson threw 14 completions in 19 attempts for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 60 yards on seven attempts and scored one of Seattle's two rushing touchdowns.
The Seahawks will be kicking themselves over their lost red-zone opportunities all through the offseason, but as the youngest team to win a playoff game in 21 years, they certainly seem to have a bright future.
And it's clear that they'll go as far as Russell Wilson can take them. Not bad for a rookie.
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