A recap of the Seahawks’ 42-13 victory over the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. There were so many candidates, as Richard Sherman had an end-zone interception and returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a score; Marshawn Lynch had another just-another-day-at-the-office outing with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns; Doug Baldwin caught two TD passes, including a leaping grab in the south end zone; and the defense kept the 49ers out of the end zone until the final two minutes of the game.
But the rookie QB had another performance that belied his status. He threw four touchdown passes – giving him 25 for the season, one shy of Peyton Manning’s NFL record for a rookie. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards in fashioning a 115.3 passer rating. He ran six times for 29 yards, and ran the 49ers’ defense ragged with his spins, rollouts and other gyrations in the backfield.
He was, quite simply, the player of the game in the Seahawks’ biggest win of the season – and in a game where so many others also were worthy.
“Russell played like crazy tonight, he did a great job,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He kept us alive when he needed to. He made great decisions. And made big plays and threw the shots when he needed to in the red zone. They were great finishes on those drive.”
But don’t just take Carroll’s word for it.
“Really impressive,” 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers said when asked about Wilson. “The guy is athletic. He’s able to scramble, make plays throwing the ball, then he made plays with his feet.”
Asked what had changed about the Russell Wilson of earlier this season and the Russell Wilson who tormented the 49ers on Sunday night, Carroll said, “I can’t tell you, because he hasn’t changed. All he has done is just won us over. Really. We’ve changed, he’s the same. He’s more experienced now with what we’re asking him to do, and he’s had more reps and turns and all of that. So he’s more efficient at everything.”
And now, Wilson also has experienced leading his team into the playoffs.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: With apologies to Lynch’s big-block-aided 24-yard touchdown run and Baldwin’s all-out effort to make his second TD catch, we’re opting for a third-down play that didn’t even produce a first down. But it was Wilson at his scrambling, dipping-and-juking best. On a third-and-9 play to open the second half, Wilson made linebacker Ahmad Brooks miss twice and linebacker Aldon Smith a third time before he finally settled on a 6-yard gain.
“It had to be almost a 10-second play,” Rogers said. “He kept running, guys kept moving.”
Said Wilson, through a large smile, “Sidney Rice told me late in the game, with about five minutes left, he said, ‘When we get the ball back, let’s just put you in there and let you scramble for five minutes.’ I started to laugh. It was just a play where I was looking downfield. … Just trying to get something positive out of the play, and we did a good job. I think that was the one third down we didn’t get.”
Defense: Sherman’s end-zone interception. It came after the 49ers had driven to the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. On the first play of the fourth quarter, and on third-and-goal, Colin Kaepernick’s pass found Sherman instead of Michael Crabtree.
“I loved what Richard did tonight,” Carroll said.
Special teams: Red Bryant’s field goal block that Sherman returned for the score that made it 21-0 early in the second quarter. Brandon Mebane helped clear a lane for Bryant, Heath Farwell gave him a push and Bryant batted David Akers’ 21-yard attempt with his right hand.
“The play of the game for me was Red,” Carroll said. “Red knocking that ball down on that field goal, and then Sherm scooping and scoring on that thing for 90. That was an enormous moment. I think the bell rang right there – we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”
None were reported after the game, although the Seahawks continued to play without cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond – who remained sidelined with hamstring injuries that have forced them to miss four (Trufant) and two (Thurmond) games.
“We’re going to get Tru in, we’re going to get Walter back next week,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks’ 150 points in their past three games ties for the third-largest total in NFL history behind the L.A. Rams (165 in 1950 and also 163 in 1950).
Wilson became the fourth rookie since 2008 to pass for four TDs in a game, joining the Lions’ Matthew Stafford (five in 2009), the Colts’ Andrew Luck (four this season) and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (four twice this season).
Sherman’s 90-yard return is the third-longest in league history with a blocked field goal. Bobby Smith of the L.A. Rams had a 94-yarder against the Packers in 1964 and Bracy Walker of the Lions had a 92-yarder against the Bears in 2004.
The 49ers have allowed seven 100-yard rushing performances since 2009 and Lynch has three of them – 111 on Sunday night, 103 in the Week 7 games this season and 107 last December.
Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks with nine tackles, pushing his season total to a team-leading 130 – the second-highest in franchise history for a rookie behind the 136 Terry Beeson had in 1977.
With his 111 yards, Lynch has 1,490 for the season. The only backs to rush for more in franchise history are Shaun Alexander (1,880 in 2005 and 1,696 in 2004) and Chris Warren (1,545 in 1994). Lynch also has scored 12 touchdowns, one shy of his career-best total from last season.
The 49ers’ Aldon Smith entered the game with 19.5 sacks to share the league lead, and left the game with 19.5 sacks.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I did. It was happy birthday, and I hope he enjoyed our gift.” – Sherman when asked if he had wished 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh – also his coach at Stanford – a happy 49th birthday