Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy next to newly elected Hall of Fame player Michael Strahan (L) after the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, February 2, 2014. Photo by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters.
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey - Russell Wilson has been defying conventional wisdom about quarterbacks for years. On Sunday, he did it again, on the National Football League's biggest stage, helping the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win the Super Bowl.
Aged 25, Wilson became the third youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but it was his composure rather than his tender years that defined his play.
In the pressure-cooker atmosphere of American sport's most watched event, Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and carried the ball three times for 26 yards.
"Tonight was just unbelievable," he told the crowd at MetLife Stadium after being handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"The thing that you want to do at the end of the season is play your best football and that's what we did tonight."
Wilson's nerveless display was all the more impressive given that he was up against Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, a future Hall of Famer who was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player during the regular season.
When Wilson was a teenager, he attended a camp that Manning held for promising young quarterbacks.
Sunday's game was billed as a match-up between the master and the apprentice but the younger man won the day, capturing a Super Bowl ring in just his second season in the NFL.
The fact that he is in the NFL at all is almost a minor miracle. A naturally gifted sportsman, he turned down the chance to play professional baseball so he could go to university and pursue his dream of making it in football.
At 5ft 11in (1.80 metres), Wilson was considered too short to be an NFL quarterback but any lack in height has been offset by his meticulous attention to detail and planning.
"He's the general," said Seattle wide receiver Percy Harvin, who scored a touchdown off an 87-yard kickoff return at the start of the third quarter.
"I haven't seen anybody prepare the way he prepares. There were three minutes on the clock, still ticking, and he's still in our face telling us, 'stay ready,' and we're like, 'man, the game's pretty much over.'
"He just wants to be great that much. I haven't seen anybody prepare like him."
Denver head coach John Fox has known Wilson for years and the Broncos had even spoken to him when he was about to enter the draft.
"He's a tremendous competitor," Fox said. "We had a great respect for him coming into the game.
"On a personal level, I knew him as a college athlete and we had him in our building as part of the draft process."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)