Internet exclusive: Wilson returns to N.C. in triumph
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
CHARLOTTE — Russell Wilson already has beaten the odds of most college quarterbacks. He’s got a job in the NFL.
Wilson, the former North Carolina State quarterback who spent his final college season playing at Wisconsin, was a third-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 draft. Conventional thinking was against Wilson, who is not the prototype quarterback that calls for a 6-foot-4, 230-pound pocket passer.
Instead, Wilson stands 5-11 and weighs around 205 pounds. Yet Wilson defied the odds of becoming the Seahawks’ starter even though the team signed former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn to a multi-million dollar contract.
Wilson leads Seattle into its game against the New England Patriots, starting at 4:05 p.m. Sunday.
Wilson returned to North Carolina Oct. 8 and led the Seahawks to a 16-12 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. One of those picks was returned by Captain Munnerlyn 41 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
Wilson was able to shake off that pick by tossing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate later in the quarter.
“You just have to have amnesia,” Wilson said. “That’s what I always say. Whether it is good or bad, you have to forget about it. Just play one play at a time.”
Wilson had at least 50 family members at the game. There were also several North Carolina State fans who made the trip to Bank of America Stadium.
Wilson said he would have liked to have played better, but was happy for the support and for the victory.
“It was great,” he said. “Obviously I had a lot of family and friends here, and a lot of N.C. State fans, so it was great. But I don’t pay attention to all that stuff. I’m so focused on what I need to do to be great. It was a good day today. Obviously I want to have a better day, but we came away with a huge win.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has taken some criticism for sticking with Wilson. The Seahawks improved to 3-2 Sunday, and Wilson has struggled at times this season.
Wilson was able to keep the Seahawks’ offense moving against the Panthers by converting 7-of-14 third downs. By comparison, the Panthers converted just 2-of-11. Seattle rolled up 310 yards in total offense, but produced just 16 points.
The Seahawks have played good defense, and Marshawn Lynch leads a running game that is one of the best in the NFL. Lynch finished with 85 yards on 21 carries against the Panthers.
Seattle has struggled in the red zone this season. The Seahawks scored just three touchdowns in 12 trips inside the 20-yard line before Wilson’s third-down touchdown pass to Tate.
But the Seahawks also had to settle for two field goals in their other trips inside the red zone against the Panthers. Despite that, Carroll was proud of the way Wilson played Sunday, and how the Seahawks were able to hang on to the victory.
“I thought Russell played a great football game today,” Carroll said. “He was in control the whole time. He had one throw that got away from him, but he was terrific on third downs.”
Carroll knows the heat’s been on Wilson, and was impressed how Wilson was able to put together a solid effort Sunday.
“There’s been a lot of scrutiny and all that stuff,” Carroll said. “He just hung in there and had a great week early on, so terrific game for him.”
Wilson said he did not let the criticism aimed at him bother him. Instead, he used it as incentive to play better.
“I use it as fire,” he said. “I can ignore the noise all the time, but at the same time, I know I have to get better. I’m a self-motivator. It’s the way I’ve always been. I trust in what I’m doing. I trust in the steps I’m taking every single day.”
Wilson also said he got a chance to see N.C. State upset Florida State on Saturday.
“It was a huge win,” he said. “It kept me up longer than I expected.”