Russell Wilson’s huge 4th quarter helps Seahawks top Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger

Nov 29, 2015, 7:50 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm
Russell Wilson threw five touchdowns on the same day he woke up ill and needed three IV drips. (AP)...
Russell Wilson threw five touchdowns on the same day he woke up ill and needed three IV drips. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks didn’t stop Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.

Russell Wilson did top him, however.

Not in passing yards. Not even in rushing yards. Wilson did it where he mattered most with a fourth quarter that was nothing short of phenomenal. Wilson completed the final six passes he threw – two of them for touchdowns – as Seattle did something it had not accomplished since Wilson became Seattle’s quarterback back in 2012: It won a shootout.

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The Seahawks had not won a game in which the opponent scored 25 or more points with Wilson on the team, and while it’s unfair to blame that fact on Wilson alone, he certainly deserves credit for changing that trend against the Steelers.

“That’s what we had to do today,” coach Pete Carroll said.

It’s not the formula that Seattle usually relies upon. In fact, it’s not the formula that a defensive coach like Carroll would prefer to rely upon. But in a game where Roethlisberger passed for the most yards of any Seahawks opponent ever, Wilson’s performance was the only way for Seattle to come out on top.

“You could just see in his eyes, he had that killer instinct,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “Like I’m going to go out there and do what I’ve got to do. That’s Russell Wilson. Whenever his back is against the wall is when he plays his best. I wouldn’t count him out for anything.”

Not even on a day when he woke up ill before 6 a.m., experiencing flooding in both his attic and his basement, to borrow an expression from former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Wilson said he had three intravenous (IV) drips to replenish his fluids.

There will be no questions about Seattle’s franchise quarterback this week. Only compliments. He played like he was paid. Maybe better.

It was just two weeks ago that I asked whether Wilson had hit a ceiling. It was a question, not an accusation. One that was made after the a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in which Seattle’s first four drives totaled 23 yards of total offense, 50 yards in penalties and actually cost Seattle two points.

In the past two games, Wilson has been the biggest reason that this offensive has been resuscitated.

He threw 10 touchdown passes in the first nine games of the season. He has thrown eight in the past two, including five on Sunday. It was the first time since 2006 that a Seahawks quarterback had thrown five scoring passes in a game. He wasn’t picked off either week, either.

“He’s just playing lights out,” Carroll said. “We need him. We need every bit of it obviously.”

It’s not like there was a question about Wilson’s ability. The theory that he’s a game manager expired more than two years ago, and when Seattle has been forced to throw its way back into games, he showed that ability as early as his rookie season when he threw for 385 yards in a playoff loss in Atlanta. That was a result of necessity, though. The Seahawks were down 20 points when the second half started.

This game was different. This was a game in which Wilson wasn’t asked to dig Seattle out of a hole so much as keep pace with one of the most aggressive passing attacks in the league.

It used to be the Seahawks relied on their defense to step up in this kind of game. That was certainly the case in 2013 on that Monday night game against New Orleans or again in the playoffs.

That was the hope when Seattle played Arizona two weeks ago when winning the NFC West was still a possibility, only to watch the Cardinals gain 269 yards in the first half and stake out a 15-point halftime lead.

Pittsburgh’s offense was just as aggressive, and just as successful. The difference was that Seattle’s offense was actually competent this time. Even downright competitive.

Wilson was Seattle’s rudder, and while he didn’t outduel Roethlisberger at 40 paces he did make the most of the 30 passes he threw compared to the 59 times Pittsburgh passed.

And on a day when the Seahawks weren’t going to stop Roethlisberger, Wilson was the reason the Seahawks still came out on top.

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Russell Wilson’s huge 4th quarter helps Seahawks top Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger