Phillips' Hollywood ending comes up short

Quarterback Curt Phillips shows his courage and commitment, even as Wisconsin comes up short in the Rose Bowl.

PASADENA, Calif. – If the 2013 Rose Bowl had been scripted by writers just down the road in Hollywood, the game would have ended with Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips being carried off the field in celebration.

After all, if anyone deserved an ending straight off the silver screen, it would have been the redshirt senior, who overcame injuries to rise up the depth chart and lead the Badgers to an improbable third consecutive Big Ten championship and berth in the Granddaddy of Them All.

Where else but in a screenplay could Phillips, who underwent three different knee surgeries during his college career, spark his team with a 38-yard scramble down the sideline, the centerpiece of a late scoring drive at the end of the first half?

Where else but in a screenplay could multiple deflected passes end up anywhere but in the hands of Phillips' receivers?

Where else but in a screenplay could Phillips have the chance to direct a drive with the game on the line on the grandest stage in the game in the fifth start of his five-year college career?

That all came true, but Wisconsin still came up on the wrong end of the story.

Even after enduring a third straight loss on New Year's Day, Phillips' teammates could express nothing but admiration.

"He's been through a lot and everyone respects him," wide receiver Jared Abbrederis said. "We're all close to him. We appreciate everything he has done."

"He has faced so much adversity, everyone knows that, and he never put his head down once," running back Melvin Gordon said.

"We all love him. He's a great leader," offensive tackle Rick Wagner said.

Phillips was more critical of himself, focusing on his interception on Wisconsin's final possession.

"It wasn't a very good throw," said Phillips of the game's only turnover, a tipped ball on his third read that was intercepted by defensive back Usua Amanam. "I made it worse."

Phillips also lamented the inability to hit deep balls as Stanford loaded the box to contain running back Montee Ball.

The closest Wisconsin came to creating an explosive pass play with Phillips directing the offense was a third quarter throw down the far sideline for Chase Hammond, but he dropped the ball before being leveled by safety Jordan Richards.

Phillips finished the game 10 of 16 for 83 yards with a four-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jordan Fredrick in the closing seconds of the second quarter, but what stood out was his unexpected mobility, starting with his miracle scamper on that scoring drive.

"Curt made plays when he had to," Gordon said. "He's been doing that all year. It wasn't no surprise, but in a game like this you couldn't be more excited than to see him running and shifting how he did today."

Phillips had 64 yards on five carries, not bad considering he has undergone three different knee surgeries. He was once regarded as a top dual-threat quarterback prospect, but conceded that part of his game has been largely erased.

"I liked my chances back in the day, but not so much now," Phillips said of his running ability.

"He busted out some long runs, which was impressive, especially for a guy with legs like his," defensive tackle Beau Allen said. "That was definitely energizing."

That moxie and perseverance that Phillips displayed embodied the entire tumultuous 2012 season, teammates said.

There could still be one final act yet for Phillips, who said he would seek a sixth year of eligibility.

"I love playing. I'd like to play some more if I could," Phillips said. "If not, what a better stage to go out on.

"I just have a lot of fun playing. I didn't want to have any regrets afterwards and I don't."

Whatever the outcome, Phillips got at least one ending worthy of repeat viewings.

Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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