From the opening bell, it shaped up as a two-horse race for Rookie of the Year. Now a third party is nipping at the heels of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, and one more burst of brilliance from the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson may thrust him in front while igniting some serious holiday partying in the Pacific Northwest.
Sleepless in Seattle, again?
A significant subplot in Seattle's game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers is Wilson's rare exposure to a prime-time television audience that, if his current form holds, will be awestruck.
Should Wilson discombobulate the 49ers with his unusual blend of skills, he will give pause to any voter planning to flip a coin to determine the premier rookie. Until three-sided coins are minted, another option would be required.
Unlike Luck and Griffin, who were bequeathed starting roles, with the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins respectively, as the ink on their contracts dried, Wilson earned his spot in training camp.
Teams sense no urgency to deploy a third-round draft pick, especially a quarterback whose unimposing height (5ft 11ins) seems more suited to having passes batted down.
To better evaluate Wilson, his coach Pete Carroll loaded him up with responsibilities and plays called aggressively in the pre-season, and "that brought out the best in him," Carroll said. Wilson promptly was elevated to starter.
Wilson's stature, short by NFL standards, might keep him from mingling in the company of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and the Mannings as pure passers.
But none of them could excel at the read option, whereby the quarterback takes the snap, rolls out, "reads" the defence and elects to pass, pitch to a tailback or carry it himself.
The option has broadened the offence so much that the Seahawks have piled up 118 points in two games.
Most impressive to his teammates, many of whom were initially sceptical, are his leadership and poise.
"He doesn't carry himself like a rookie," Sidney Rice, the wide receiver, told the Seattle Times.
"He's never shown a sign of being scared."
Each week, Wilson texts or emails notes to receivers on the upcoming opponent, many in great length and detail.
Of a young quarterback's myriad challenges, none stands greater than winning over veterans in the locker room, but Wilson's record there is even more impressive than the Seahawks 9-5 on the field.
"There's a lot of people in here who were [doubting Wilson]," Carroll said. "And not just in here. But keep watching him go. He's going to make a lot of people that might have said something else change their mind a little bit."
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