Wilson's third-down magic too much for Carolina

SEATTLE -- Going 8-for-8 on third down throws, including three touchdowns, isn't half bad for a game manager.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was masterful once again when it mattered the most, leading the Seahawks to a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers Saturday night and helping put the team back in the NFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.

"Sometimes I think I'm made for these situations," Wilson said. "I try to be prepared for us, and when you're prepared, you're never scared. You just go."

Wilson was going to TD town Saturday. He had a perfectly lofted 16-yard TD toss to Doug Baldwin in the first quarter, a 63-yard TD to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the second quarter and a 25-yard TD to tight end Luke Willson in the fourth quarter.

"That was a fantastic night, coming through in those crucial situations," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. "I was really fired up for Russell. He hit almost everything. Three third-down TD passes is almost unheard of. How does that ever happen?"

Wilson was 15-of-22 passing overall for 268 yards, but 199 of those yards came on his third-down throws. He had a passer rating of 149.2. To give that some perspective, it's the fifth-highest rating in NFL postseason history.

Wilson now has multiple completions of passes of more than 20 yards in the last five games. He didn't have multiple 20-yard plus completions outing in the first 12 games of the season.

And that could be one of the reasons so many experts continue to say he's just an average quarterback. But average quarterbacks can't do what Wilson does, which is win more games than any QB in NFL history in his first three seasons.

One of Wilson's biggest supporters is former Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon, who is part of the team's radio broadcast crew. Moon has been a mentor to Wilson since Wilson first arrived in 2012. Moon talks to him after every game and they sit together on flights to road games.

Moon was asked after Saturday's game if Wilson belongs with the elite quarterbacks of the league such as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

"Definitely he does," Moon said. "But maybe for different reasons. He's never going to get the passing yards the top quarterbacks in the league get. They don't ask him to throw it 35 and 40 times a game.

"He'll never get the production Manning and those guys get, but he's more efficient and he doesn't turn the ball over. And he does things with his legs that give the defense something else they have to worry about. But if he keeps winning championships, it won't matter. Those rings tell you everything."

There's something about the biggest games and the biggest moments that bring out the best in Wilson.

"Whenever I talk to him, all he talks about is living for those situations," Moon said. "He loves the big-time of a game. He wants the ball in his hands. I think he would rather be behind sometimes and have the ball in his hands. He's has as many comebacks as anybody in the game.

"Has he been successful every time? No. But Michael Jordan didn't hit every game-winning shot, but (like Jordan] he wins more than he loses and he lives for it."