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O’Neil: Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson starts to make MVP case

Russell Wilson threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the Seahawks' 24-10 win. (AP)

The Seahawks knew they had one of the best closers in football.

On Sunday night, Russell Wilson showed the whole country he could pitch a complete game, too, and his performance in Seattle’s 24-10 victory over Philadelphia should be Exhibit A in the case to make him the league’s Most Valuable Player.

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“That was Russell showing you everything he’s all about from start to finish,” coach Pete Carroll said.

From the start when Wilson rushed for 7 yards on an option keeper to begin the Seahawks’ first possession through the three touchdown passes he threw to three different players with every ad-libbed evasive maneuver and audible that was sprinkled in between.

“Russell was phenomenal tonight,” Carroll said.

That was true whether he was changing the play at the line of scrimmage like he did for the 47-yard pass to Doug Baldwin that set up Seattle’s second touchdown, or deciding mid-run to pitch the ball to Mike Davis for a play that violated football convention (and perhaps the letter of the NFL law if we’re being a stickler about a forward pass) in the fourth quarter.

“The lateral was definitely not in the progression,” Wilson said.

It was pure Wilson, resulting in a 17-yard 23-yard gain on third down. Seventeen of those yards were credited entirely to Davis, according to NFL score-keeping conventions, which is the only reason that Wilson didn’t end up as Seattle’s leading rusher.

Philadelphia’s own MVP-candidate Carson Wentz wasn’t bad. He wasn’t as good as his 349 yards passing would suggest, either, and there’s no doubt that Wilson was better. He threw for more touchdowns and was more efficient as he did it all without committing a single turnover.

Whether Wilson is named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player will depend on how the final month of this season plays out. But with four games to go there is absolutely no doubt that’s exactly what he is.

You can see that statistically, and it’s just as evident strategically. No one has a bigger burden, and no one shoulders so much of that burden outside the structure of the offense as Wilson does.

Not only is Wilson the only quarterback in the league who leads his team in rushing, but with 432 yards on the ground he has gained more than twice as many yards as any of his teammates.

Not only are Wilson’s 26 touchdown passes tied with Tom Brady for the second-most in the league, but he has accounted for three of Seattle’s four rushing touchdowns as well. After 12 games, the Seahawks have scored exactly one touchdown on offense that didn’t involve Wilson’s arm or his feet: J.D. McKissic’s 30-yard touchdown run back in Week 4 against Indianapolis.

There was only one thing that had been missing from Wilson’s resume this season: a quality start.

He checked in with one on Sunday night against the Eagles when he completed his first four passes and led the Seahawks to 10 first-quarter points, pushing Seattle out to an incredibly important lead.

“They’ve been so dominant,” Carroll said of the Eagles, “in my mind, I was hoping that we would be close with these guys in the fourth quarter. We’ve been in so many tight games, it wouldn’t be anything new to us.”

Instead, Wilson staked the offense to a lead it never lost in a game that showed from start to finish just how valuable he is to Seattle’s offense.

RUSSELL WILSON IS ONLY HALF-BAD
First 11 games Comp. Att. Pct. Pass yards TD INT Rating
First half 125 209 59.8 124.2 6 5 78.8
Second half 131 202 64.9 151.2 17 3 108.6
Sunday vs. Philadelphia Comp. Att. Pct. Pass yards TD INT Rating
First half 10 12 83.3 101 1 0 129.5
Second half 10 19 52.6 126 2 0 108.7