Go fourth and conquer: Russell Wilson and Seattle's 4th-quarter riddle
By Jerry Brewer | The Seattle Times
For two months now, quarterback Russell Wilson has been compared to to the projection of what Matt Flynn would have done in the same situation.
It's understandable given all the loot Seattle paid to sign Flynn as a free agent. It's also impossible situation because no matter how well Wilson plays -- and I would argue that he has been at or above an average NFL starter the past two weeks -- it won't measure up to what you could argue Flynn would do.
After all, Flynn passed for more yards in his first two NFL starts than all but one player in NFL history.
The result is an argument that has about as many real-world applications as debating whether Superman could defeat Batman in a fight. It's purely hypothetical.
But here's what is a fair comparison: Evaluating Wilson with respect to what Seattle got from its quarterbacks a year ago, especially in the fourth quarter.
That was the glaring deficiency of this team in 2011. In each of its four home losses, it had the ball in the final 5 minutes while trailing by eight points or fewer. In other words: It was a one-possession game. And in those four home losses, Seattle managed a grand total of zero points. Nada. None. Bupkus.
Well, Seattle's already won twice in that situation this season, which is not-so-coincidentally the difference between Seattle's 4-2 record after six games this season and its 2-4 start a year ago.
And in the spirit of using a sledgehammer to nail this point down, I dragged up the results of Seattle's crunch-time numbers a year ago.
Here were the parameters: Any time Seattle had the ball while trailing by eight points or fewer or tied with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter or overtime. Here's how it looks, broken down first by game and then by quarterback:
|Score||Drive began (Time)||Drive ended (Time)|
|Game 4||ATL 30, SEA 28||SEA-15 (1:49)||ATL-43 (0:08)|
|Drive:9 plays, 42 net yards (47 total offense); 3 first downs. Result:: Missed FG|
|Game 5||NYG 25, SEA 22||SEA-20 (4:42)||End zone (2:37)|
|Drive: 7 plays, 80 net yards (80 total offense); 4 1st downs. Result: Touchdown|
|Game 6||CLE 6, SEA 3||SEA-20 (3:05)||SEA-26 (2:22|
|Drive: 6 plays, 6 net yards (5 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Turnover (Downs)|
|Game 7||CIN 20, SEA 12||SEA-15 (4:50)||SEA-7 (3:22)|
|Drive: 3 plays, -8 net yards (-8 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt.|
|Game 11||WASH 20, SEA 17||SEA-40 (6:18)||SEA-39 (4:16)|
|Drive: 3 plays, -1 net yards (14 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt.|
|WASH 20, SEA 17||SEA-18 (2:34)||SEA-23 (2:07)|
|Drive: 4 plays, -4 net yards (1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)|
|WASH 23, SEA 17||SEA-20 (1:06)||SEA-21 (0:37)|
|Drive: 3 plays, 1 net yard (1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (INT)|
|Game 15||SF 19, SEA 17||SEA-19 (2:57)||SF 48 (1:07)|
|Drive: 5 plays, 33 net yards (33 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Turnover (Fumble)|
|SF 19, SEA 17||SEA-26 (0:41)||SEA-34 (0:13)|
|Drive: 4 plays, 8 net yards (8 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs).|
|Game 16||ARI 20, SEA 20||SEA-21 (5:06)||SEA-41 (2:17)|
|Drive: 5 plays, 20 net yards (20 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Punt|
|ARI 20, SEA 20||SEA-28 (1:46)||ARI-49 (0:26)|
|Drive: 5 plays, 23 net yards (23 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Punt|
|ARI 20, SEA 20||SEA-40 (15:00)||SEA-39 (13:55)|
|Drive: 3 plays, -1 net yard (-1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt|
Notice a trend there? Seattle got worse as the year went along. Now take a look at the results this season with Wilson:
|Score||Drive began (Time)||Drive ended (Time)|
|Game 1||ARI 20, SEA 16||SEA-20 (4:59)||ARI-4 (0:18)|
|Drive: 18 plays, 76 net yards (55 total offense); 6 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)|
|Game 3||GB 12, SEA 7||SEA-20 (8:44)||GB-7 (1:54)|
|Drive: 12 plays, 73 net yards (46 total offense); 5 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)|
|GB 12, SEA 7||GB-46 (0:46)||End zone (0:00)|
|Drive: 6 plays, 46 net yards (46 total offense); 2 1st downs. Result:Touchdown|
|Game 4||STL 19, SEA 13||SEA-20 (3:09)||STL-35 (1:00)|
|Drive: 9 plays, 45 net yards (45 total offense); 3 1st downs. Result: Turnover (INT)|
|Game 6||NE 23, SEA 17||SEA-10 (3:56)||SEA-17 (3:02)|
|Drive: 3 plays, 7 net yards (7 total offense); 0 1st downs; Result: Punt|
|NE 23, SEA 17||SEA-43 (2:38)||End zone (1:18)|
|Drive: 4 plays, 57 net yards (57 total offense); 2 1st downs. Result: Touchdown|
And finally, let's take a look at it broken down by quarterback, and since Flynn hasn't appeared in a regular-season game yet for the Seahawks, feel free to use your imagination. Some of you are already pretty good at that:
|Player||Crunch games||C-Att-Yds||TD-INT||Sacked||QB rating|
|Russell Wilson (2012)||4||16-34-188||2-1||3||71.8|
|Charlie Whitehurst (2011)||2||5-11-82||1-0||0||101.3|
|Tarvaris Jackson (2011)||5||13-26-100||0-1||5||43.8|