The NFL's trinity of tenderfoot quarterbacks reached new levels of wonderment in Week 13. Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson all led fourth-quarter comeback wins over favored opponents. Records were broken, highlights happened, and most improbably of all, each wunderkind's team is in the mix for a playoff berth.
Of course, those three were not the only rookie signal callers in action this week. Ryan Tannehill had a day to forget. Arizona's Ryan Lindley made his second start in a slap fight loss to the Jets. Brandon Weeden continued his campaign to redefine the importance of maturity as a draft measurable, and Nick Foles fulfilled the league requirement for putting 11 offensive players on the field.
This week's rookie quarterback power rankings try to sort out all these damn heroes, with an eye on the postseason.
1. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I sometime have to look back at the official NFL draft results to assure myself that Seattle pulled Russell Wilson out of the third round. Yep. Think about that for minute, especially if you're a fan of one of the half dozen or so teams desperately needing a quarterback. How do you feel right now?
Wilson's touchdown passes mirror his long odds at NFL stardom. They are rarely just simple throws. His perfectly-placed game-winning touchdown in overtime nearly killed Sidney Rice.
Wilson threw a season-high 37 passes this week, completing 23 of them. He finished the game with 293 passing yards, tying a season-high, two touchdowns and another 71 rushing yards. Seattle used the read option almost perfectly, especially late in the game to keep the Bears off balance.
Playoff Possibilities: The NFC is wide open, and the Seahawks currently have one of two wild card spots. Thanks to San Francisco's loss this week, Seattle has a shot at the division, too. Wilson has been helped by the team's stellar defense, but a possible suspension for cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will put even more of the onus on Wilson to carry the team. Think about it for a minute. Is there a team in the NFC field right now that the Seahawks couldn't beat?
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck led his fifth game-winning drive this week. By now, you've probably seen the last-second touchdown pass to Donnie Avery, who actually did the bulk of the work on the play, that capped off a big fourth quarter. The Colts' rookie is now tied with Ben Roethlisberger and Vince Young for the most game-winning drives by a first-year quarterback.
As incredible as that last touchdown was, it was the second of two touchdown drives engineered by Luck in the final three minutes of play to overcome a 12-point deficit. The Colts had two percent chance to win the game before the first of those two offensive drives started.
Give the man some points for efficiency too. Luck ran the final 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive in just a minute and seven seconds. He's already a candidate for running the best no-huddle offense of any quarterback, just 12 games into his NFL career.
Playoff Possibilities: Oh yeah, it's going to happen. The Colts already have eight wins on the season. Two of the last four games are against the Texans, a tall order for an Indianapolis team that is still pretty thin beyond its quarterback. The outcome of those two games could change things, but the Colts aren't likely to have as many believers in the postseason, not this year anyway.
Sometimes being lucky is just as important as being good. That was the case for RGIII when he fumbled the ball only to see Josh Morgan scoop it up and turn it into a touchdown. He finally got some help from the rest of his team this week, including a defense that held off the Giants for 11 and a half minutes to make RGIII's eight-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon the game-winner.
RGIII's critics also had something to take away from this game thanks to a fourth-quarter shot from Giants linebacker Michael Boley at the end of an eight-yard scramble.
@rgiii on 4th qrtr hit from Michael Boley: "I could feel the typewriters writing when I took that hit," by those who say "I run too much."— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 4, 2012
It would be criminal to deny football fans the gift of RGIII's running ability. Still, he should spend some time during the offseason working on slides and getting out of bounds.
Playoff Possibilities: Beating the Giants this week gives Washington real hope. RGIII and the Redskins have the most favorable schedule of any team in the NFC East chase. One miscue from the Giants could give the NFL a trio of rookies in the postseason.
4. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
I'll be brief. You didn't click through to read 300 words on the Browns' rookie quarterback. Cleveland did manage to beat the Raiders, and Weeden threw for a season-high 364 yards. He added a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. In the most non-Pat Shurmur stat of all, Weeden's 10.11 yards per attempt was another season-high, by a big margin.
5. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
It looked like the Dolphins offense was finding its stride for a while there. Someone must have reminded everyone that it still was the Dolphins. The lack of receivers in Miami was already a big problem. Losing Jake Long for the rest of the year is going to make things particularly rough for Tannehill.
6. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles went 21-for-34 with 251 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys this week. It was his third start, and easily the best one so far. Conventional wisdom says that he's in the midst of an extended tryout for 2013. The reality is unless he starts playing like one of the first three names on this list, he's still going to have to fight for the job in camp next year.
7. Ryan Lindley, Arizona Cardnials
The good news is that Lindley threw just one interception after throwing four last week. The bad news is that he completed 10-of-31 passes for 72 yards. The only thing Cardinals fans will be saying about Ryan Lindley next season is, "hey, remember that Lindley guy?"