Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson Avoid Rookie Wall
RG3 was just one of the rookie quarterbacks who led his team to improbable victory in Week 13.
By: Nathan Rush | 12/4/12, 7:17 PM EST
Apparently no one told this year’s rookie class of quarterbacks about the proverbial “rookie wall,” which, for years, has stood as an obstacle to stardom for even the best and brightest.
Four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw threw six TDs and 24 INTs in his first season. Two-time Super Bowl winner John Elway started off by completing just 47.5 percent of his passes, with seven TDs and 14 INTs. Four-time MVP Peyton Manning broke the single-season INT record as a rookie, throwing 28 picks.
Even for future Hall of Famers, the wear and tear of an NFL season can be too much to bear during that first go-round as a professional.
But this season, first-year signal-callers are playing some of their best football down the stretch.
Seven rookie quarterbacks started in Week 13, posting a combined 4–3 record. Three, in particular, stood out — Seattle’s undersized underdog Russell Wilson, Indianapolis’ No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck and Washington’s Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III — en route to close-call victories that kept their respective teams alive in the playoff hunt.
Wilson led a 12-play, 97-yard scoring drive for a go-ahead touchdown in a 23–17 upset at Chicago. The 5'11" dynamo took charge of the huddle and then marched the Seahawks down the field for just their second road win of the season
“I just told the guys, ‘This is what the season comes down to, right here and right now,’” said Wilson, a third-round draft pick at No. 75 overall.
Across the Great Lakes in Detroit, Luck threw a 14-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Donnie Avery as time expired on a 35–33 comeback victory over the Lions. The winning play — a short dump off toss that Avery hustled across the goal line — capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive and secured another “Chuck Strong” win for the Colts, who are 8–4 this season after finishing with a league-worst 2–14 record last season.
“You always hesitate throwing the ball not in the end zone, for fear of the clock running out with a guy in bounds,” said Luck. “Took the calculated risk that Donnie could get there in the end zone, and he did.”
Finally, on Monday night, RG3 outran the Big Blue Wrecking Crew of the defending Super Bowl champs, during a 17–16 win over the Giants. The win moves the Redskins to 6–6 and just one game behind the Giants in the NFC East division race.
The dynamic dual-threat run-pass ability of Griffin was on full display against a New York defense that was gasping for air all night long.
“If he stays healthy,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, “he’s going to be a havoc on defenses for a long time.”
When it’s all said and done, that could be the case for several members of the quarterback class of 2012.
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