The Seattle Seahawks trailed the Minnesota Vikings by 26-21 on Sunday night and were stuck at their 6-yard line. The bad news: There was only 1 minute 57 seconds to go in the game. The good news: Russell Wilson is the team’s quarterback.
Wilson’s flare for dramatic and timely plays — last season he led the league with five game-winning drives — has inspired “Let Russ Cook” memes, a reference to his unscripted performances. Sure enough, Wilson led the Seahawks (5-0) to victory on a 94-yard drive that left time to spare.
Afterward, Wilson said he felt like “Sue Bird in the clutch,” a nod to the Seattle Storm guard who won her fourth W.N.B.A. title last week. Here’s how Wilson pulled off his most recent game-winner.
First-and-10 at the 6. Wilson dropped back to pass into his own end zone and quickly found the pocket collapsing around him. Visions of a sack and safety probably flashed in front of Seattle fans’ eyes, but Wilson saw a hole and ran the ball forward for a 17-yard gain to give the offense some breathing room.
First-and-10 at the 23, 1:37 to go. From the shotgun, which the team used throughout the drive, Wilson underthrew receiver David Moore 10 yards downfield.
Second-and-10. Wilson missed Moore again farther downfield.
Third-and-10. Wilson scrambled to avoid a sack, then heaved a bomb to nobody.
Fourth-and-10, 1:21 to go. With the game in the balance, the Vikings brought the rush, but the offensive line gave Wilson a little time. He uncorked a 40-yard pass to the sideline, which a fairly open D.K. Metcalf jumped to catch.
“My only thought was to go get the ball,” Metcalf told The Athletic.
First-and-10 at the Minnesota 38, 1:14 to go. Wilson went to Metcalf on the left again. He reached forward on the run and got a hand on it, but couldn’t catch it.
In his second year in the league, Metcalf has developed a big-play reputation, notably catching a 29-yard touchdown in Week 2 to beat the Cowboys. “I think he is one of the top receivers in the game,” Wilson told reporters earlier in the week. “He can do it all — he can run by you, he can jump over you, he can get physical with you.”
Second-and-10. Wilson hit Tyler Lockett with a short pass to the right for another first down.
First-and-10 at the 21, 1:00 to go. Under pressure, Wilson dumped the ball out of bounds.
Second-and-10. Wilson hit Metcalf, who took a stride for the first down then dived for a few more yards.
First-and-goal at the 6. A pass bounced off the hands of Lockett at the 1-yard line.
Second-and-goal. Metcalf caught the ball right on the goal line and appeared to be in the end zone. But he was hit by Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes and dropped the ball. There was brief confusion from the officials, but it was ruled an incomplete pass.
Third-and-goal. A pass to Metcalf in a similar spot was far too high.
Fourth-and-goal, :15 left to play. After a timeout, Wilson, again with no margin for error, took a deep drop. Metcalf was once more his target. Closely guarded, Metcalf still caught the ball, which had a slight wobble, in a dive. “I just saw D.K. run across the field and just tried to zoom it in there to him in a tight window,” Wilson told reporters. “He just made an unbelievable catch, unbelievable play.” The Seahawks led, 27-26, the score by which they would win.
Wilson went 20 for 32 for 217 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. It was the 30th game-winning drive of his career.
“I don’t know how anybody could ever be better than what he continues to show us in those situations,” Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s as good as you can get.”
Metcalf caught six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
When Wilson and the Seahawks took over at the 6-yard line, ESPN gave them a 14 percent chance of winning the game. Their chances had been as low as 4 percent on the previous drive when Minnesota got the ball to the Seahawks’ 6-yard line before failing on a fourth-and-inches try.
The Seahawks improved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. With a bye week coming up, they are poised for an eighth playoff berth in the last nine seasons and, if Wilson can keep putting together drives like Sunday night’s, maybe a special season.