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Russell Wilson proves a winning quarterback can make all the difference

This column is brought to you by the number 74.

Not seven, for the number of times Carson Palmer was sacked. Not two, for the number of times he was picked. Or even 16, for the number of sacks the Cards have given up in the last two times they’ve graced the Thursday Night Football broadcast.

Nope. 74. That’s the number of players who were selected ahead of Russell Wilson in the 2012 Draft. Astounding.

A Twitter exchange with my radio colleague Dan Bickley early in the game triggered the thought. It went something like:

“Where can we get a QB like that?”

To which I replied:

“Trouble is, we could have. Lots of teams could have.”

Seventy-four picks came and went before the Seattle Seahawks chose the kid out of Wisconsin and it’s left them in an enviable position. Seattle has a quarterback, therefore, they have a future. The Cardinals don’t and therefore they don’t; it’s pretty much that simple isn’t it?

Wilson impressively carved up this touted defense for an early 14-0 lead. He zipped it to Sidney Rice on an unlikely third down conversion that turned into a field goal. Later — on a play Todd Bowles will see later in his sleep — he hit Zack Miller while getting dragged to the ground. That drive led to a touchdown. Sure, he also had two costly fumbles that led to 10 of the Cardinals’ 22 points. You can live with those mistakes when you’re balancing the ledger with touchdowns and points.

A lesson Palmer could surely learn from.

I hear those who are saying Palmer’s protection is robbing him of opportunities to succeed, and I agree….to a certain extent. Seattle’s defense was harassing him all night. Bradley Sowell in particular had the kind of game that probably have him staring at the ceiling early into the morning. But Palmer wasn’t alone with these protection problems.

Wilson was playing behind an injury-plagued offensive line. He was sacked three times and hit nine times in less than ideal conditions. Wilson not only survived, he thrived to the tune of a quarterback rating of 122.1. It’s the NFL. Teams will pressure your quarterback and you’ve just got to deal with it.

It also helps that he has a running back who might be one of my favorite players to watch in Marshawn Lynch. For lack of a better word, I enjoy how he plays the position. Clearly he is a luxury the Cardinals simply do not have.

But the truth hurts; the Cardinals have yet to win a game because of Carson Palmer.

And the guy who stood across the field — the 75th pick in the draft who was idolized on the NFL Network’s post-game show — just showed you how it was done.