He didn’t dominate, and he didn’t dazzle. He just won. Again. And this time, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did it on the biggest stage possible, in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, leading his underdog Seattle Seahawks to a 43-8 demolition of Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
In a game where he was supposed to be the “other” quarterback, the second-year pro did exactly what he had to do to win the Lombardi Trophy. Very quietly, he passed for 206 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Doug Williams led the Washington Redskins to victory in Supe XXII.
“It’s something I think about, to be the second African-American to win the Super Bowl,” Wilson said. “That’s history right there, man. It’s something special and it’s real. There are so many guys before (me) who have tried to change the game and have done a great job of it.”
While Manning bumbled his way to two interceptions and meaningless Super Bowl passing records, Wilson never tried to do too much. He just calmly completed seven of his first 10 passes on the first two drives — including a 37-yarder to Doug Baldwin — to set up a pair of early field goals and set the tone in the runaway win. He was efficient the entire evening, completing 18 of 25 passes.
Not bad for a quarterback who said he routinely faced doubts because he stands just 5-11. “I think the biggest thing is playing great situational football,” Wilson said. “We want to be smart. I just try to do my part. When we need a big play, I always try to make it, and keep the guys going.”
It’s the way Wilson had played all season. Other quarterbacks piled up gaudier stats, and many pundits questioned Wilson when he failed to break 200 yards passing in three of his final four regular-season games. But Wilson never worried and never wavered throughout the season. He recalled a players-only meeting from the preseason, in which he shared a saying his father, Harrison Wilson III, often used.
“He always used to tap me and say, ‘Russ, why not you?’ ” Wilson said of his father, who died of complications from diabetes in 2010. “I told the guys, ‘Why not us?’ ”
Wilson carried that mentality into Sunday’s game, despite facing the legend that is Manning. He said he was always conscious of the Broncos offense and that things were “never comfortable,” even as the lead grew.
“To play Peyton Manning … I have so much respect for him,” Wilson said. “He’s had an unbelievable career. I want to be like that.”
He is off to a good start. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Washington’s Robert Griffin III seemed the standard-bearers for the read-option era of quarterbacks, but Wilson became the first quarterback to rush for more than 500 yards (539) and win the Super Bowl in the same season, winning a title in his second year in the league.
And Wilson has a message for anyone else who would dare to doubt him again: “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Latino, Asian … it doesn’t matter if you’re 5-11. It’s the heart that you bring.”