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Russell Wilson stands tall from the pocket

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Critics still knock the Seahawks' quarterback over a misguided notion that he can't play well from the pocket. In Sunday's NFC Championship, he proved otherwise during Seattle's comeback win.

Stop the noise about Russell Wilson. Right now. Kill the nonsense about how he simply manages the Seattle Seahawks' offense. How he only wins with his legs. How he is the primary beneficiary of Seattle's wicked defense.

How he is just a "system" quarterback.

Stop it. All of it. Because the gleaming point from the conference championship games on Sunday is this -- Russell Wilson is a winning quarterback who is now 10-0 vs. Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

He throws four interceptions, yet, becomes the first quarterback since 1961 (George Blanda) to do that and win a conference championship game. What does that tell you? It says he handles adversity better than any NFL quarterback today. It says he keeps playing. Finds a way. Puts his heart and soul into it. Employs his bright mind.

Seattle over the Green Bay Packers, 28-22, in overtime. Seattle: NFC champs again. Consecutive Super Bowl titles within reach. And Wilson is smack into the thick it.

Another bottomless knock on Wilson has been that his best passing plays always come on the edges, on the move. The knock is he cannot read and throw adeptly from the pocket. Not like Tom Brady. Not like Aaron Rodgers.

Open your eyes. On consecutive plays in overtime, he stood tall and threw from the pocket. On the first throw, he put it right on receiver Doug Baldwin for a 35-yard gain. To win it, he stood right in that pocket again and threw a flawless 35-yard pass to receiver Jermaine Kearse. Both plays in such huge moments dead from the pocket were Starr-like, Montana-like, Unitas-like. Seventy yards in two consecutive shots from the pocket.

Wilson diagnosed and dissected the Packers' defense on that winning toss. Packers' safety creeping in. Middle open. Audible. Slingshot. Go for it. Touchdown. Nimble mind. Sensational arm and touch.

Too many critics have been hesitant to give Russell Wilson what he deserves. Maybe because there have been so few like him. Maybe nobody like him. He is so good with his feet that people lessen what he accomplishes with his brain and arm. Especially from the pocket. He is not a one-dimensional quarterback.

He is a complete and total package.

You understand now why the Seahawks let receivers Golden Tate and Percy Harvin go, why they did not let either player tarnish Wilson, why they banked all in on Wilson. They have given Wilson the backing, the reign to run this offense and coalesce this Seahawks' offensive personnel and lead it.

And he has, right back to Super Bowl 49. It is New England's turn now to do what the Denver Broncos could not this time last year. New England's chance as AFC champion to derail Wilson and the Seahawks. To prevent Seattle from accomplishing what only seven teams have -- winning consecutive Super Bowls. In a twist, the Patriots were the last to win two straight, in 2004 and 2005.

The NFC has won five of the last seven Super Bowls.

Wilson vs. Brady is a contrast in styles with one caveat -- as good as Wilson is on the run, he can be as good in the pocket. Get that. Acknowledge that. Accept that.

"Somehow" is how Seattle head coach Pete Carroll described his team rebounding from a 16-0 deficit at halftime and from 19-7 with 5:04 left and gaining its first lead in regulation with only 1:25 left before winning in overtime.

It was Seattle special teams and a Seattle defense that persevered.

It was Marshawn Lynch running hard and setting a bruising comeback tone.

But it was chiefly Russell Wilson from the pocket.

Let's say that again: FROM THE POCKET.

A winning quarterback. I fully expect him to be the Super Bowl 49 MVP while pocketing a consecutive title for the Seattle Seahawks.

Sunday's best

  • Intriguing how two critical plays in each conference championship game involved players trying to catch footballs only to have them bounce squarely off their facemasks. Turnovers that changed the games. For the Indianapolis Colts, it was punt returner Josh Cribbs, whose flub helped turn the game decisively the Patriots' way early. For the Packers, it was Brandon Bostick, whose critical botch on the late onside kick bounced high and hard right off his kisser.
  • The Patriots will study what the Packers did to protect Rodgers. Much of it worked. The Packers funneled the Seattle pass rush to the outside, sealed it and made sure Rodgers' first move was nearly always a step up to clear lanes. Rodgers against the menacing Seattle pass rush was sacked only once for a 7-yard loss.
  • Baldwin and Kearse once again showed why, as undrafted free agents, they deserve credit and respect for their production. Few regard this duo as special in any way. But their resiliency and focus matched with their determination and talent cannot be denied.
  • The Patriots are in great shape in this Super Bowl if they can get LaGarrette Blount to run loose again. His 30 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns made the day simple for Brady. The quarterback's play fakes often drew the Colts' defense to bite hard to find a way to handle Blount. It left gaping holes for Brady's targets. Running the football with that kind of success against Seattle, or any defense, will do that.
  • Be ready for the sly and slick in this Super Bowl. Both teams love going for it on fourth down. Both teams love trick plays and tricky players. New England threw touchdown passes Sunday to tackle Nate Solder and fullback James Devlin, players who had never made NFL scores. The Seahawks' late third-quarter fake field goal and touchdown pass was picturesque art. Expect a top-this-top-that approach in trickery from these teams in Super Bowl 49.