This was always going to be one of those once in a decade quarterback classes, even before Russell Wilson announced his arrival from what is arguably the loneliest outpost in the NFL.
Everyone expected big things out of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. Wilson was more of a pleasant surprise, catapulted from third-round obscurity to what passes for football stardom in a city far removed from the media spotlight.
Now he’s the only rookie quarterback left in the playoffs. Next thing you know, he’ll get some Subway commercials of his own _ or maybe something even better.
On a Sunday that was painful for RG3 and brutal for Luck, it was the undersized and once-unappreciated Wilson who emerged a star. He played with the calmness and efficiency of a veteran, rallying the Seahawks from a 14-0 deficit against the Washington Redskins almost before he had a chance to fasten his chin strap.
And if you didn’t know enough about him before, one look at Wilson racing downfield to block for Marshawn Lynch on the go-ahead touchdown should get everyone excited about this kid.
“Marshawn always tells me, `Russ I got your back,’” Wilson said. “I let him know I have his back, too.”
What was billed as a matchup of young stars turned into a mismatch of sorts when Griffin reinjured the knee he sprained a month ago and limped noticeably from the first quarter on. He wasn’t coming out, and coach Mike Shanahan wasn’t taking him out, a pair of decisions that will be debated.
When the night finally ended for him late in the fourth quarter, he lay crumpled on the turf at FedEx Field after fumbling and then collapsing with his leg twisted around him in a frightening moment for anyone watching. Among those who were watching was Wilson, who went to a knee and prayed for his fellow rookie.
Just how bad the injury is won’t be known until Griffin gets an MRI on Monday. He said after the 24-14 loss that he wasn’t sure himself whether he had further injured it.
But the dreadlocked rookie star made it clear that standing on the sideline watching the game wasn’t an option. He carried the Redskins into the playoffs, and they weren’t going to play without him.
“I had to go out there and do what I could to help the team win,” he said. “Period.”
It was a disconcerting end to a spectacular season for Griffin, whose personality and promise got him sandwich shop commercials even before he started winning games for the Redskins. He and Luck started the year as the most talked about pair of quarterbacks coming into the NFL in years, and both lived up to their billing by carrying their teams into the playoffs.