After Russell Wilson put on a clinic against the New Orleans Saints' top-five defense on Monday night, leading the Seahawks to a stunningly easy 34-7 win over the NFC's No. 2 team, the chants of "MVP" began to resound -- locally and nationally.
But Wilson -- ever humble even amid ego-boosting success -- deflected the MVP talk. "That should be Marshawn Lynch," he told ESPN's analysts after the game.
Well, he is half right. The Seahawks' MVPs really are Russell Lynch and Marshawn Wilson.
The quarterback and running back have a symbiotic relationship, helping each other by their mere presence. The Saints had to pick their poison, and they decided to prevent Lynch from pulling off another Beast Quake game. So Wilson beat them -- easily and often.
If you had not seen the game and had heard that record-setting quarterback Drew Brees had played against a second-year QB and then you had seen the stats without the names attached, you would have sworn Brees was the guy who had completed 22 of 30 (73.3 percent) for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while the second-year guy was the one who hit just 23 of 38 (60.5 percent) for 147 yards and a TD.
But on Monday, the upstart Wilson outdueled the veteran Brees, becoming the fourth player in NFL history with 20 touchdown passes in each of his first two years.
Wilson remained undefeated at home (14-0) and also became the second QB to win 22 games in his first two years. The other was Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, who coincidentally (and controversially) beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl in his second season.
Wilson also improved to 3-0 on "Monday Night Football," with seven TD passes and no interceptions. (The four other QBs from the class of 2012 who have started on "MNF" are 1-6 with six TDs & eight picks, per ESPN Stats & Info.)
As for league MVP, Denver's Peyton Manning seems to have that locked up. He has the numbers and the wins: 41 TD passes and 4,126 yards (first in NFL), plus 68.1 percent, 115.3 rating and 10 victories (second).
Wilson has the most wins, but he doesn't have the gaudy stats. He is the quarterback of a running team (a league-leading 396 carries vs. just 316 pass attempts, which ranks 31st).
Of course, that is part of why Wilson is on pace to set the record for most wins by a QB in his first two seasons. He came to a team that was already becoming dominant on defense and in the running game. Those are a young quarterback's two best friends.
Lynch, the No. 2 back in the league behind Adrian Peterson the past two seasons, took the pressure off Wilson a bit in the first half of the season as the Hawks dealt with injuries on their offensive line.
Lynch has slipped to sixth in rushing the past two games as Minnesota and New Orleans have focused on stopping him (just 99 yards on 33 carries in those two wins). But Wilson has thrown five touchdown passes as the Hawks have won by a combined 75-27.
After doing all he could to stay alive in the early part of the season, Wilson has really picked it up over the last two months. In the first six weeks, he threw eight touchdown passes and four interceptions. In the last six games, he has thrown 14 TD passes and had just two throws picked off. He also is hitting 73 percent of his passes over the last four games.
There is no mistake that Wilson is playing great football -- every bit as good as the second half of the playoff game against the Falcons when he rallied the Seahawks from a 20-point deficit and gave notice to the NFL that he would be a factor for years to come.
His numbers had not indicated that in the first six games, but they sure have over the last six. And the entire country saw him at his elite best Monday night, eliciting the "MVP" chants from the 12th Man and analysts alike.
Coach Pete Carroll shrugged off the MVP talk, saying, "Teams that have the most success attract that kind of attention."
Only two quarterbacks -- Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999) -- have won the MVP award in their second seasons. The Seahawks have had only one other MVP: Shaun Alexander in their only Super Bowl season (2005).
Fans surely would love to see Wilson become the third second-year QB and the second Seahawk to win it, but they probably will be disappointed as Manning wins his fifth trophy.
They also will forget all about it when Wilson is named MVP of the Super Bowl.