SEATTLE – As the sure-thing kick missed by no more than the width of the hyphen between sure and thing, there was one obvious conclusion:
It’s better to be lucky than … well, it’s just better, OK?
But Al Woods, whose determination and luck was good well before that, had a second thought.
“Mr. Paul Allen,” the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive tackle said, “was with us tonight.”
Could be. Might have to have a séance to find out for sure. But you know who undoubtedly was with the Seahawks on Thursday night?
Mr. Russell Wilson.
On a night that defied the laws of logic and even stretched the boundaries of faith, the Seahawks left CenturyLink field 30-29 winners over the nobility of the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams, because there are gods and there are monsters and Russell Wilson managed to play like both.
“Russ stole the show tonight,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
And that was only impossible.
Even before kickoff, their mood leaned toward the overwrought as a tribute was paid to Allen, the team’s late owner who rescued – with the help of the citizens who voted to build a new stadium – the franchise from the moving vans and then found the right people to take it to a Super Bowl championship. His induction into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor was no mere hat-tip to the rich guy as these things can be; it was as meaningful as the ceremonies that ushered in the Largents and Zorns and Easleys and Joneses before him.
Then, of course, the whistle blew and all hell broke loose.
Feel free to relive the craziest moments this morning. The breath-sapping bobble by Chris Carson on Seattle’s winning touchdown. Woods digging his heels in the turf to stop Rams quarterback Jared Goff on a two-point conversion – in effect, the difference on the scoreboard. Tedric Thompson’s one, two, three, four-cushion interception that saved Seattle the first time in the fourth quarter. And Greg Zuerlein’s eyelash-thin miss of the woulda-been winning field goal for the Rams from 44 yards, a kick he could normally make with his off-leg.
It was all too much, especially for the 68,988 spent fans who trudged back to their tailgates hoping they’d stashed some therapy beers.
But not for the Seahawks.
“You try not to make the game no bigger than it is,” Woods said. “You make it as small as you can and do your job and keep working.”
Maybe that was Wilson’s mentality, too, though everything he did spelled out B-I-G G-A-M-E.
Four touchdown passes, reclaiming his NFL lead. No interceptions – nothing special there, really, as he doesn’t have one all season. Seventeen completions that seemed like 37. And the insane number: a quarterback rating of 151.8.
That was nearly double that of Goff, who only threw for 395 yards.
It was also just 6.5 points shy of what the NFL considers perfect.
There was no greater illustration of his next level this night than the one that came near the end of the first quarter. Scrambling out of trouble left with the Rams’ Cory Littleton in pursuit, Wilson threw across his body to Tyler Lockett veering toward the corner of the end zone. The ball arrived in his outstretched hands just as his feet scraped the last few inches of green, and Seattle had its first lead – its first life, really.
“Everybody’s raving that it’s one of the best catches they’ve ever seen,” Carroll said. “But it’s also one of the best throws ever made, if that’s the case. Because there was no room for error.”
Wilson’s marksmanship was spectacular. His instincts even more so.
“There were so many plays I’m thinking, ‘Russ, get down!’ ” Carroll recalled. “And all of a sudden he pops out and he’s still going and we start over again. And then he finds somebody and makes a 20-yard play. Must have happened five or six times.
“He was spectacular. I don’t remember him being that on, that thoroughly in the game in really difficult situations.”
At night’s end, Wilson seemed as caught up in the Allen aura as anyone, suggesting there must have been a gust from above that blew that last kick wide.
“I was telling guys – for the guys who didn’t know Paul – that he believed big,” Wilson said. “You have to think big, believe big. And he was exactly that, Paul Allen.”
But when it was suggested that this might be the game to get him mentioned in the same breath as the NFL’s elite quarterbacks – Brady and Brees and that bunch – Wilson wasn’t thinking big.
“I just try to be consistent,” he said. “Bobby (Wagner) and I have a saying: Don’t get bored with consistency.”
If they can keep it as consistently crazy as they did this night, no problem.
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