Playing against Russell Wilson for the first time, former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane knew all about the quarterback’s knack for making big plays when they mattered most.
On the final play of the game four years ago in Seattle, a scrambling Wilson looked like he had receiver David Moore in the back of the end zone for the winning score. However, Mebane, then playing for the Los Angeles Chargers, managed to get a fingertip on the ball, which led to Moore dropping the pass. The Chargers held off the Wilson-led rally and won the game 25-17.
After playing with Wilson for four seasons, Mebane understands what’s in store for the Seahawks when the most accomplished quarterback in franchise history returns to Lumen Field for the first time as an opponent. Russell’s Denver Broncos travel to the Pacific Northwest for a nationally televised game on Monday Night Football.
“Russell is one of those quarterbacks that’s going to battle and swing at you until there’s one second left on that clock,” Mebane told FOX Sports. “He’s going to keep going. What makes him special is Russell is good at the two-minute drill. A lot of games in Week 1 came down to the final play, and if you’re not good in two-minute, you’re not going to win.
“To me, there’s only like eight quarterbacks who can destroy you in two-minute. Russell makes very accurate throws, and he doesn’t make a lot of bad decisions.”
Wilson has 24 fourth-quarter comebacks since entering the league as third-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2012, tied for fifth among active NFL quarterbacks. It’s one of the reasons he led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and the organization’s only championship.
Just ask Richard Sherman, who faced Wilson as a member of the San Francisco 49ers after being released by Seattle in 2018.
“He’s always been a kind of fourth-quarter, I’m going to make a few plays and take the top off the defense throughout the game,” Sherman told CBS Sports.
“He’s not going to play in the intermediate area very often. He’s not going to be like Tom [Brady] and take what the defense gives me all day until it’s over. He needs to take shots.”
If anyone knows that best, it’s Pete Carroll, who has had an up-close look at every NFL game Wilson has played in his 10-year career. So, Carroll should have a pretty good idea of how to contain that Wilson magic, correct?
“We are going to plan for that,” Carroll told reporters last week. “We have a lot of things that we are going to do, and we have a ton of information. We have as much information as we have ever had going into a game, and hopefully … we can capitalize on it. That’s all that I can really tell you about the game plan.”
With Wilson’s matchup against his former team, some of the incidents that led to his departure have been reexamined, with a few new nuggets unearthed.
Wilson reportedly bristled when Seahawks general manager John Schneider attended pre-draft workouts for Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.
“Definitely, they tried to [trade me] a couple times, tried to see what was out there,” Wilson told Denver-area reporters last week. “It’s part of the business, being a professional and everything else.”
Seahawks reportedly offered Wilson for 2018 first-round pick
According to ESPN, the Seahawks offered Russell Wilson to the Browns in 2018 for the No. 1 pick in that draft. GM John Schneider also attended the pro days of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Colin Cowherd reacts to the report.
Of course, through his representation, Wilson asked the Seahawks to trade him during the offseason two years ago, naming four teams as potential destinations.
The Seahawks never brokered a deal then, but Wilson and Seattle finally reached the point of no return this past offseason, with Seattle consummating the trade that sent Wilson to the Broncos in March.
Now, Carroll and the Seahawks will have to figure out how to stop Wilson on Monday. Carroll had former players from his championship team stop by practice last week — including Marshawn Lynch, K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril and Sherman — to share how they developed into Super Bowl champs.
“I went against Russ a lot,” said Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs, who started his career in Detroit. “He’s won against me a lot. We won some, we lost some. It’s just what it was. But I mean, it’d be a good chess match. He’s a smart guy, I’m a smart guy. I think it’ll be very interesting, and I think it’ll be really fun.”
With wins over the Seahawks and Chargers this season, Wilson would become the fifth quarterback all time to beat all 32 NFL franchises. Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Brady have all accomplished that feat.
Wilson will become the sixth different quarterback to start a Week 1 contest in the past six seasons for the Broncos. He inked a five-year, $245 million contract extension last week.
Selected to the Pro Bowl in nine of the past 10 seasons, Wilson is the only player with a 100-plus passer rating in each of his past four seasons and has the fourth-highest rating in NFL history.
Meanwhile, journeyman Geno Smith won a quarterback battle with Drew Lock to replace Wilson as Seattle’s starter. Smith hasn’t started a season opener since 2014 and is 13-21 as a starter in his eight-year career.
While Seahawks fans likely will boo Wilson when he takes the field, Mebane believes they should keep the heckling to a minimum.
“If anything, a real true fan, they are going to be happy to see him,” Mebane said. “And they should be applauding that they had a quarterback like him.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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