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Understanding the significance of Russell Wilson’s latest accomplishment

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

On Sunday night, Wilson Conn posted an article about Seattle’s franchise quarterback joining a pair of exclusive clubs.

Russell Wilson in elite company through ten seasons.

In that article, Wilson (Conn) pointed out that (Russell) Wilson had joined Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to throw 20 or more touchdown passes in each of their first 10 seasons.

Those are some cool beans right there.

For me, it was the other “club” that piqued (and tweaked) the ol’ attention span though.

How crazy is that stat?

Answer: VERY!

But to understand why, we need some context.

Let’s start with the fact that only 6 quarterbacks in the history of the league have more games than Russell Wilson with at least 4 touchdown passes in their entire career ... and each of them played at least 17 seasons.

  1. Tom Brady: 39 games (over 22 seasons, and counting)
  2. Drew Brees: 37 games (over 20 seasons)
  3. Peyton Manning: 35 games (over 17 seasons)
  4. Aaron Rodgers: 33 games (over 17 seasons, and counting)
  5. Brett Favre: 23 games (over 20 seasons)
  6. Dan Marino: 21 games (over 17 seasons)

* Stats courtesy of StatMuse.com.

Russell Wilson will finish his 10th season on Sunday and is currently tied with Johnny Unitas (18 seasons) for #7 all-time.

There ARE some other active quarterbacks nipping at Wilson’s heels, including Matthew Stafford (14 games over 13 seasons) and Patrick Mahomes (13 games over 5 seasons). But not many.

Note: I could have also included Matt Ryan (13 games over 14 seasons) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (11 games over 17 seasons) but neither of them would be considered a threat to catch Wilson at this point in their career.

Bringing our attention back to Sunday’s announcement by the Seahawks PR team, the number of QBs who have had 17 games with 4 or more touchdown passes in their first 10 seasons is an exceptionally small list; one that currently has only 3 names on it:

  1. Dan Marino (1983-1992)
  2. Peyton Manning (1998-2007)
  3. Russell Wilson (2012-2021)

So ...

While some would have you believe that Russell Wilson is (perhaps) over-rated or that his latest accomplishment somehow “means less” because (they may think) he accomplished it against a bunch of teams with losing records ...

I would argue that doing something (positive) that only two other players in NFL history have done is worthy of celebration. Especially when both of the two previous players are now in the Hall of Fame.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it because, without any further ado, here is a complete list of the seventeen games in which Russell Wilson has thrown 4 (or more) touchdown passes ... followed by a list of players who have achieved that feat against the Seahawks over the past 10 seasons.

Note: All stats / box scores pulled from Pro-Football-Reference.com, except for Sunday’s game against Detroit which should be fresh enough in everyone’s mind so as to not need a link.


Russell Wilson’s rookie season

Wilson’s first game with 4 passing touchdowns came against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 of the 2012 season. The Niners were 10-3-1 heading into the game; Seattle was 9-5. Final score: Seattle 42, SF 13.

Note: While it doesn’t “count” for this breakdown, because only one of them was a passing touchdown, Wilson’s first 4-TD game was a week earlier against the 5-8 Buffalo Bills. Final score: Seattle 50, Buffalo 17.

2013

Wilson had 4 passing touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. The 45-17 defeat dropped the Jaguars to 0-3. Jacksonville finished the year with a 4-12 record in Gus Bradley’s first season with the team; the former Seahawks Defensive Coordinator was 14-48 with the Jaguars overall.

2014

No games with 4 (or more) touchdown passes.

2015

Russell Wilson had the first 5-touchdown game of his career in a Week 12 shootout with the Pittsburgh Steelers who were 6-4 at the time and finished the season with a 10-6 record. Seattle won that game, 39-30.

Wilson had another 5-touchdown game two weeks later, this time against the 4-8 Baltimore Ravens who started the season 1-6 and finished it with a 5-11 record. Final score: Seattle 35, Baltimore 6.

2016

Seattle’s first loss in a game in which Russell Wilson had at least 4 touchdown passes came in Week 16 against the 5-8-1 Arizona Cardinals. Those with a long memory may recall that the Seahawks missed an extra point with a minute to play and then watched a 43-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired. Sigh! Arizona 34, Seattle 31.

2017

Wilson threw 4 touchdown passes against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. Alas, Seattle lost by a 33-27 score. The Titans were 1-1 coming into the game and finished Mike Mularkey’s final season at 9-7.

In Week 8, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson waged an epic aerial battle with 8 touchdown passes and 854 passing yards between them. An 18-yard pass to Jimmy Graham provided the final points in a 41-38 Seahawks win. The Houston Texans fell to 3-4 with the loss and only won one more game the rest of the season.

2018

Wilson tossed 4 touchdown passes in a 43-16 win over the 2-9 San Francisco 49ers in Week 13. What stands out about this game, aside from the score, is that Wilson only completed 11 (of 17) passes that day which means 36.4% of his completions were for touchdowns.

2019

In Week 5, against the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks eked out a 1-point win, 30-29, with Russell Wilson throwing touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett (13 yards), D.K. Metcalf (40 yards), David Moore (10 yards), and Chris Carson (5 yards). Both teams were 3-1 heading into the game. The Rams finished the season with a 9-7 record while Seattle finished 11-5.

Russell Wilson’s third career game with 5 touchdown passes came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9. The 2-5 Bucs led by 8 at halftime, but Seattle won, 40-34, in overtime. The Bucs went 5-3 after that but finished the year 7-9.

2020

The “Let Russ Cook” movement started in Week 1, on the road against the Atlanta Falcons, with Wilson going 31-of-35 for 322 yards with 4 touchdowns. The Seahawks won, 38-25, and the Falcons finished the season 4-12.

The Seahawks faced the 1-0 New England Patriots at Lumen Field in Week 2. Russell Wilson threw 5 touchdown passes and the Hawks won 35-30. The Patriots finished the Brady-less season with a 7-9 record.

Wilson notched 5 more touchdown passes in a 38-31 Week 3 win. The Dallas Cowboys were 1-1 at the time but Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury two weeks later and America’s team stumbled to a 3rd-place finish in the NFC East with a 6-10 record.

Wilson recorded his 4th game of the season with at least 4 touchdowns when the Seahawks beat the 4-3 Niners in Week 8. San Francisco only won 2 more games that season.

RW3 put another 4-touchdown game on his ledger with a 40-3 slaughter-fest against the winless New York Jets in Week 14.

2021

Russell Wilson started the year by throwing 4 touchdown passes against the Indianapolis Colts in Seattle’s season-opening 28-16 road win. Indy currently holds the 6th seed in the AFC playoff field with a 9-7 record.

Seattle’s 51-29 win over the 2-12-1 Detroit Lions was Russell Wilson’s 17th regular season game with 4 or more touchdown passes.


Opposing QBs vs. Seattle, 2012-present

For some perspective on Wilson’s accomplishment, here is a breakdown of all the QBs that have thrown 4 (or more) touchdown passes in a game against the Seahawks since Wilson joined the league:

Tom Brady closed out the 2014 season with 4 touchdown passes against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

Deshaun Watson had 4 TD passes (and 3 INTs) in Week 8 of the 2017 season.

And ...

Yeah, that’s the entire list.



Bonus Coverage

For those who are interested, here are a couple of tables that compare the first 10 seasons of Messrs. Manning, Marino, and Wilson in regard to their games with 4 or more touchdown passes:

Games with 4 or more touchdown passes, by season:

Record of opponents who surrendered 4+ touchdown passes to a member of this trio:



Bonus Bonus Coverage

For those who are interested in an overabundance of information, here are the 17 regular season games that Wilson’s peers threw 4+ touchdowns in during their first 10 seasons in the league, along with the respective records of the teams they accomplished the feat against:

Peyton Manning

1998: N/A

1999: N/A

2000:

  • Week 4: 4 vs. 1-2 the Jacksonville Jaguars who finished the season 7-9
  • Week 17: 4 vs. the 11-4 Minnesota Vikings who finished the season with the loss in Indianapolis

2001:

  • Week 2: 4 vs. the 0-1 Buffalo Bills who finished the season 3-13

2002: N/A

2003:

  • Week 4: 6 at the 1-2 New Orleans Saints who finished the season 8-8
  • Week 13: 4 (in a loss) vs. the 9-2 New England Patriots who finished the season 14-2
  • Week 15: 5 vs. the 3-10 Atlanta Falcons who finished the season 5-11

2004:

2005:

  • Week 4: 4 at the 1-2 Tennessee Titans who finished the season 4-12

2006:

2007:

  • Week 13: 4 vs. the 8-3 Jacksonville Jaguars who finished the season 11-5
  • Week 14: 4 at the 4-8 Baltimore Ravens who finished the season 5-11

Note: Although they don’t “count” for this comparison since they weren’t regular season games, Manning also threw for 4+ scores in a pair of playoff games during his first 10 seasons: 5 vs. the 10-6 Denver Broncos in the 2003 Wildcard Round and 4 against the 10-6 Broncos in the 2004 Wildcard Round.

Dan Marino

1983: N/A

1984:

  • Week 1: 5 at Washington who won the NFC East that year with an 11-5 record
  • Week 8: 4 at the 5-2 New England Patriots who finished the season 9-7
  • Week 13: 4 vs. the 6-6 New York Jets who finished the season 7-9
  • Week 14: 4 (in a loss) vs. the 9-4 Los Angeles Raiders who finished the season 11-5
  • Week 15: 4 at the 4-10 Indianapolis Colts who finished the season 4-12
  • Week 16: 4 vs. the 9-6 Dallas Cowboys who watched the playoffs from home

1985:

  • Week 14: 5 at the 6-7 Green Bay Packers who finished the season 8-8

1986:

  • Week 3: 6 (in a loss) at the 1-1 New York Jets who finished the season 10-6
  • Week 9: 4 vs. the 1-7 Houston Oilers who finished the season 5-11
  • Week 11: 4 at the 3-7 Buffalo Bills who finished the season 4-12
  • Week 12: 4 vs. the 10-1 New York Jets who lost their final 5 games and finished 10-6 overall
  • Week 15: 5 at the 10-4 Los Angeles Rams who finished the season 10-6

1987:

  • Week 7: 4 (in a loss) vs. the 2-3 Buffalo Bills who finished the season 7-8
  • Week 8: 4 vs. the 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers who finished the season 8-7

1988:

  • Week 13: 5 (in a loss) at the 5-6-1 New York Jets who finished the season 8-7-1
  • Week 15: 4 vs. the 9-5 Cleveland Browns who finished the season 10-6

1989: N/A

1990: N/A

1991: N/A

1992:

  • Week 7: 4 vs. the 0-5 New England Patriots who finished the season 2-14

Note: Marino threw 4 touchdown passes vs. the 10-7 Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1984 AFC Championship Game.