showed poise under pressure in finding Donnie Avery
for the Colts
' game-winning touchdown. (Julian H. Gonzalez/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
These kids today ...
Rookie quarterbacks are not supposed to be able to orchestrate 97-yard TD drives, late in the fourth quarter against one of the NFL's top defenses. But that's exactly what Russell Wilson did Sunday in Chicago.
And no one expects rookie quarterbacks to rally from 12 points down in the final three minutes of a game, then throw a game-winning TD as the clock expires. Andrew Luck did it anyway, much to the chagrin of the eternally star-crossed Lions.
Not every first-year starting QB has had a storybook go of it -- Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Nick Foles have endured more downs than ups thus far. Wilson and Luck, though, moved ever closer to surprising playoff berths Sunday with their late-game heroics (Wilson hurting the chances of Robert Griffin III's Redskins in the process).
Luck was far from brilliant during the first three-plus quarters Sunday, throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions. Those poor numbers came on the heels of a three-game stretch in which Luck tossed five picks to just three TDs.
But the Colts still posted a 2-1 mark in those contests, and they showed even more resiliency Sunday.
The Lions led 33-21 with 2:47 left when Luck delivered a 42-yard strike to LaVon Brazill in the end zone to pull the Colts within five. More importantly, that play came before the two-minute warning, allowing Indianapolis to save its two timeouts plus that extra mandated clock stoppage.
Indianapolis wound up needing every available second, too, before ripping the Lions' hearts out. Luck's offense took over for its final possession with 1:07 left, needing 75 yards. They picked up 61 and still had 14 seconds on the clock before Luck fired three straight incompletions in the end zone -- smart decisions all, since the Colts could not stop the clock if Luck threw shy of the goal line. On the final play of the game, the Lions pressured Luck with a four-man front, but he managed to step out of the pocket and dump one off to an open Donnie Avery for six.
Wilson's victory may not have been quite as dramatic, but it arguably was just as impressive -- if not more so. Seattle's youngster found himself pinned back at his own 3-yard line, down four with 3:40 left.
He completed six passes over the next three minutes, including a 4th-and-3 conversion to Zach Miller and a 27-yarder to Sidney Rice. The sixth and final strike he threw on that drive found Golden Tate for a touchdown.
The Bears, a bit miraculously, rebounded from Tate's TD to tie the score and force overtime. Wilson, coolly and calmly, took Seattle down the field for another touchdown, this one a game-winner, to start the extra session.
Griffin or Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin may wind up taking home the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors this season. Even if that's the case, there can be no denying the impacts Luck and Wilson have had on their respective franchises.
Luck's Colts improved to 8-4 with their come-from-behind win Sunday. They have control of a wild-card berth right now, plus remain alive in the AFC South race. Wilson and the Seahawks, meanwhile, came through with a crucial win in the muddled NFC playoff race. They, too, stayed in the division hunt, putting some pressure on San Francisco with four weeks left.
Even more impressive than the key wins Sunday, though, was how they came about for the Colts and Seahawks.
History has taught us that rookie players, especially quarterbacks, can be rattled by trying situations. Luck and Wilson continue to prove their mettle, and they both could be playing on into January as a result.