The Seattle Seahawks had reached the NFC title game on Jan. 19 in spite of Russell Wilson in the last month. Despite Wilson and the Seahawks dominating the NFC in the season's first three months, both the quarterback and the team had shown some cracks in recent weeks. As such, it looked like the San Francisco 49ers could have run them off the field on Jan. 19, yet Wilson and the Seahawks made the big plays they needed for a 23-17 victory.
The day started as terribly as possible for Wilson, as he was sacked and stripped by Aldon Smith on the very first play from scrimmage. Yet in typical Seahawks fashion, the defense bailed Wilson out, as they held the 49ers to a field goal in the opening minutes. However, when the 49ers went up by 10-0 in the second, the Seahawks needed an actual boost on offense.
Wilson gave them that in his first of two big plays, as he completed a bomb to Doug Baldwin that set up the Seahawks' first three points. But it was Marshawn Lynch who lifted the Seahawks to start the second half, as his 40-yard scramble tied the score. Nevertheless, the 49ers came right back to take a 17-10 lead, with Wilson only able to lead the Seahawks to a field goal afterwards.
The start of the fourth quarter was a defining moment, as the Seahawks faced a fourth-and-seven on the edge of field goal range. Instead of ordering a long kick, Pete Carroll sent Wilson back out -- where he drew the 49ers offside. But with a free play at his disposal, he threw a 35-yard strike in the end zone to Jermaine Kearse, who held on to give Seattle its first lead.
Wilson's second big play turned out to be the game winner for the Seahawks. Yet if he had been able to give the Seahawks a clinching touchdown on his next two drives -- each off of 49ers' turnovers -- the game would have been over early. In the end, the defense had to save the day again when Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick's final pass into the end zone to Malcolm Smith.
Although Wilson made his biggest throws in weeks, he will hear doubts about his ability to outduel Peyton Manning for two more weeks. Will the Seahawks actually need that much from him next time?