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VALDEZ: Seahawks' Wilson has earned Most Valuable Player honors

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The Seattle Seahawks were so close, yet so far.

The game was deadlocked at 24-24. Quarterback Russell Wilson had led them down the field on the opening drive of overtime, to the San Francisco 49ers’ 14-yard line. They were just 14 yards away from scoring a touchdown and handing the San Francisco 49ers (8-0) their first loss of the season.

Great athletes tend to show up when it matters most. This was a chance for Wilson to add another signature moment to an already illustrious career. After all, he had been in this situation before. The Super Bowl XLVIII champion had 27 game-winning drives under his belt, the second most in the NFL since 2012.

On primetime “Monday Night Football,” it was time for him to make a statement on national television. Could he and the Seattle Seahawks put the league on notice, showing that they are once again a legitimate championship contender?

As he dropped back to pass, he felt the pressure from the San Francisco 49ers’ ferocious defensive line. He quickly got rid of the ball, targeting tight end Jacob Hollister streaking for the end zone. I stared intently at the screen as the ball hung in the air, ready to scream at a clutch touchdown.

I did end up screaming, but not for the reason I expected. I screamed in shock as the San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw jumped up and intercepted the pass, returning it to midfield. The way Wilson had been playing the whole year, I did not think he would turn the ball over. After all, it was only his second interception of the season, compared to 26 total touchdowns.

With that being said, football fans had seen this before. The play immediately reminded me of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. The Seattle Seahawks were playing the hated New England Patriots, attempting to defeat the greatest dynasty that the league has ever seen. It almost did too. 

Down 28-24, Wilson had driven the offense to the Patriots’ 1-yard line with 25 seconds left. In one of the most infamous plays of the decade, head coach Pete Carroll inexplicably called a pass instead of handing it off to former-star running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson got picked off by cornerback Malcolm Butler, and the rest is history.

This time, though, Wilson got a second chance. Since the 49ers kicker missed a field goal, then each team would punt as both offenses stalled. Finally, the Seattle Seahawks got the ball again at their own 36-yard line with just 1:25 left in the overtime period. 

Finally, vintage Wilson showed up. He calmly led the offense on a seven-play, 40-yard drive, chewing up all but 4 seconds of the game clock in the process. The drive was highlighted by his 18-yard scramble on third down, yet another reminder that he can make clutch plays with both his arm and feet.

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Meyers drilled the field goal, cementing Wilson’s 28th career game-winning drive. This thrilling win came just a week after he led the team to an overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is safe to say that the man knows how to get it done in big moments, even if he does mess up occasionally. 

As a Rutgers student, it is nice to be able to actually watch a good football game. If you have had the misfortune of watching many of the Scarlet Knights’ blowout losses to fellow Big Ten Conference teams like Michigan University or Ohio State University, then you can feel my pain. Watching those games is more like watching an inhumane beatdown, than an actual sport.

Whenever I have caught a Seahawks game on television this season, I have gotten to see Wilson make ridiculous plays in exciting games. Week five comes to mind, when I watched him toss four touchdowns in a 30-29 upset of the Los Angeles Rams. I am not a Seattle fan by any stretch of the imagination, but it was still cool to see him make big-time plays when it mattered most. 

As a sports fan, those kinds of players always provide an entertaining experience.

Why am I going on about Wilson’s great season? Honestly, it is because I think he should be named the Most Valuable Player (MVP). Even though there are still seven weeks left in the NFL regular season at the time of writing this, I think he has already earned it. Without him, Seattle would be nowhere close to its current 8-2 record. It is time for the league to give the man his flowers.

Joshua Valdez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and double-minoring in creative writing and cinema studies. His column, “The Power of an Open Mind,” runs on alternate Fridays. 

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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