A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 24:
Christmas Eve Eve. For Pete Carroll, Sunday night began with him holding his grandson, Dillon, on the sideline before the Seahawks’ game against the 49ers. It ended with the team’s third-year coach embracing a playoff berth after a beyond-convincing 42-13 victory.
But Carroll is not satisfied. Far from it.
“My goal has never been the playoffs,” he said today during his weekly day-after Q&A session with reporters. “It’s try to win the division, because that puts you in the playoffs at home. And that’s what you want. The second season starts, but you want to position yourself in the best spot that you can get it.
“So we never say around here, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get to the playoffs.’ I never thought that. That isn’t good enough.”
That’s still out there for the Seahawks, if they beat the Rams at CenturyLink Field this Sunday while the Cardinals are beating the 49ers in San Francisco. But regardless of where the Seahawks finish, they’ve made it apparent that they can make some noise in the postseason.
To say they’re are on a roll does not do justice to just what the Seahawks have done during their four-game winning streak. Starting with the fourth quarter of their overtime win against the Bears in Chicago in Week 13, the Seahawks have scored on 24 of their 32 full possessions – not counting when the clock expired at the end of the first half or they kneeled to run out the clock at the end of the second half. And that doesn’t include the four touchdowns scored by the defense and special teams.
“We have to take care of our business first,” Carroll said. “What’s most important right now is we maintain consistency, and we maintain the level of play, and the focus to the details, and the discipline it takes to practice each day with intent, and do things right. And put together another good week so we can play well again.
“We’ve been playing well for quite a while. I can feel it in the room and the guys understand it. But that doesn’t mean anything unless we go do it again.”
GUY BACK, BUTLER GONE
The Seahawks have activated rookie safety Winston Guy, who returned last week with a roster exemption after serving a four-game suspension.
Guy, a sixth-round draft choice, was inactive for eight of the first 10 games before his suspension.
To clear a roster spot, wide receiver Deon Butler was released. Butler was re-signed Dec. 15.
Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) came out of Sunday night’s game with injuries, and the next-man-up at weakside linebacker is Mike Morgan, who started one game and played most of the second on the strongside for K.J. Wright earlier this season.
Carroll expects Marcus Trufant to practice on Wednesday after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury. But he is not sure if Walter Thurmond will be able to return by then. Thurmond has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.
Jermaine Kearse. Signed as a free agent in April after the NFL Draft, the rookie free agent from the University of Washington was released Aug. 31 on the roster cut to 53 players. He was then signed to the practice squad (Sept. 3), released from the practice squad (Sept. 8), re-signed to the practice squad (Sept. 11) and then signed to the 53-man roster (Oct. 30).
Sunday night, Kearse caught a 17-yard pass from Russell Wilson on a third-and-8 play to sustain a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Wilson’s first TD pass to Doug Baldwin and also had two coverage tackles on special teams.
“Oh man, this is a lot of fun,” Kearse, who also went to Lakes High School, said in the locker room after the game. “Especially being in this environment, my rookie year, being with this team, in my hometown; it’s a ton of fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Especially because he’s playing for a coach who rewards those players who work hard. Kearse is just one example of a rookie – and a practice-squad rookie, at that – who has reaped the Carroll-bestowed chances.
“Coach has given be a great opportunity to be part of this team,” he said. “Whether it’s special teams or offense, whatever opportunity I get I’m going to run with it. I felt good about today. It was a great team win and I’m happy to be part of this organization.”
If the season ended today, which of course it doesn’t, the Seahawks would play the Redskins in Washington in the first round. That, of course, could change because the only playoff spots not settled involve the NFC West, NFC East and NFC North.
The Seahawks and 49ers are both in, with the 49ers winning the division if they beat the Cardinals on Sunday; or the Seahawks winning it if the 49ers lose and they beat the Rams. One wins the division, while the other gets the No. 5 seed.
In the East, the Cowboys play at the Redskins on Sunday with the winner taking the division and No. 4 seed. With a loss, the Redskins are the No. 6 seed, if the Vikings and Bears also lose. If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, they’re out. Then it’s the Vikings for the No. 6 seed, if they beat the Packers; or the Bears, if they beat the Lions and the Vikings lose; or the Giants, if they beat the Eagles and Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all lose.
The Seahawks have made a pre-Christmas move in two of the power rankings that have surfaced early in this Christmas week. Here’s a look at where they rank, and what they’re saying:
No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com: “A tour de force victory Sunday night over the big, bad wolf of the NFC West that stamped the Seahawks as a real Super Bowl contender. No team has a bigger home-field advantage than the Seahawks (7-0 at CenturyLink this year). Too bad the ‘Hawks will likely have to win three straight on the road to get to the Super Bowl.”
No. 6 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings: “The Seahawks are on a 100-13 scoring run at home and have put up 150 over the past three weeks.”
STATS ’N STUFF
After rushing for 176 yards against a 49ers defense that was allowing an average of 91.1, the Seahawks rank No. 2 in the league in rushing offense. They have spiked their per-game average (161.7) by averaging 226.5 in their four-game winning streak.
The Seahawks also are plus-12 in turnover differential, which ties for sixth in the league.
Marshawn Lynch remains second in the league in rushing (1,490) and is tied for fourth among non-kickers with 72 points. He’s also fifth in total yards (1,672) and first downs (75).
Richard Sherman is tied for second in the league with a career-high seven interceptions, one behind league-leader Tim Jennings of the Bears; while Chris Clemons is tied for seventh in sacks (11.5).
Wilson’s passer rating of 98.0 is seventh in the league, and second among rookie QBs behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III. Wilson’s 101.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter is seventh in the league and his 92.4 rating on third downs in eighth. With 25 TD passes, he is ninth in the league, tops among rookie QBs and one shy of Peyton Manning’s league record for a rookie QB.
Leon Washington remains second in the league in kickoff return average (30.1), while Jon Ryan is sixth in the league in net punting average (41.6) and tied for 10th in punts inside the 20 (28).
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team with 130 tackles, which is six shy of the single-season club record for a rookie set by Terry Beeson on 1977. Special teams co-captains Heath Farwell (15) and Michael Robinson (10) lead the team in coverage tackles.
STAT DU JOUR
Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL record for receiving yards on Saturday night, which only makes the job the Seahawks did against the Lions’ Megatron wide-out in Week 8 that much more impressive. Here’s a look that game, and what Johnson has done since then:
Opponent Rec. Yards
Seahawks 3 46
Jaguars 7 129
Vikings 12 207
Packers 5 143
Texans 8 140
Colts 13 171
Packers 10 118
Cardinals 10 121
Falcons 11 225
Christmas Day, of course. And this year it just happens to fall on the players’ usually day off. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for this week’s game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The amazing thing Sunday night was, that was no Jacksonville or Kansas City they beat up 42-13. That was the San Francisco 49ers, who’d entered the game first in the NFL in scoring defense. Russell Wilson had the first four-touchdown-pass day of his exploding career, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards, and the Seahawks, with a crowd so loud that NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya had to scream into Pete Carroll’s ear to be heard before the game, continued on the NFL’s best three-game offensive run since 1950.” – King in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com
The folks at NFL.com should consider naming their NFL Rookie of the Week award after Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks’ quarterback is nominated, again, after passing for four touchdowns in Sunday night’s 42-13 drubbing of the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field. It’s the eighth time this season, and fifth time in the second half of the season, that Wilson has been nominated. He won in Week 10.
You can vote here for Wilson, who, with 25 TD passes is one shy of the NFL single-season record for a rookie set by Peyton Manning.
Also nominated: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III; Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly; Colts QB Andrew Luck; and Vikings safety Harrison Smith.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 24:
1983: In the Seahawks’ first playoff game, on a Saturday afternoon at the Kingdome, Dave Krieg passes for three touchdowns – to Steve Largent, Pete Metzelaars and Paul Johns – in a 31-7 victory over the Broncos. Kenny Easley leads the defensive effort with 10 tackles and a sack.
1994: In what will be Tom Flores’ final game as coach, and on a day when the wind-chill at old Cleveland Stadium is 22 degrees, the Browns roll to a 35-9 victory. The Seahawks score their only touchdown with 1:22 remaining on Stan Gelbaugh’s 25-yard pass to James McKnight.
1995: The Seahawks close their first season under Dennis Erickson the same way they opened it, with a lopsided loss to the Chiefs – this time 26-3 in Kansas City. Steve Broussard’s 70-yard kickoff return sets up the Seahawks’ only score, a 34-yard field goal by Todd Peterson.
2005: On a Saturday afternoon in Seattle, Shaun Alexander runs for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Hasselbeck passes for two more scores, including one to Alexander, in a 28-13 victory over the Colts that caps a club-record 11-game winning streak.
2006: The Seahawks take a 17-13 lead on a 9-yard TD run by Shaun Alexander and a 33-yard field goal by Josh Brown, but Vincent Jackson catches a pass from Philip Rivers in the end zone with 29 seconds to play to give the Chargers a 20-17 victory in Seattle. Alexander finishes with 140 yards and two TDs.
2011: The Seahawks’ three-game winning streak is snapped in a 19-17 loss to the 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Marshawn Lynch’s 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter – the first rushing TD allowed of the season allowed by the 49ers – gives the Seahawks a 17-16 lead. But David Akers’ fourth field goal of the game with 2:57 left gives the 49ers the win. Lynch rushes for 107 yards, making him the first back since 2009 to hit triple digits against the 49ers.
Perhaps ESPN’s Kenny Mayne put it best last night following Seattle’s 42-13 Sunday Night Football postseason-clinching victory over the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field when he tweeted, “Seahawks are going to get their names in the paper.” He was right.
Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 24.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday night’s showdown, “The Seahawks made the 49ers look like the Bills last week or the Cardinals the week before. ‘We didn’t play any different than we’ve been playing,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘That’s absolutely what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to play the same week after week after week.’ “
O’Neil has his “2 minute drill” naming quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman his players of the game, “Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns — most by a Seahawk since 2009 — giving him 25 for the season. It is the second most for a rookie quarterback and one away from Peyton Manning’s record of 26 set in 1998 with Indianapolis. Cornerback Richard Sherman scored a touchdown for the second time in three games, returning a blocked field-goal attempt 90 yards in the second quarter. He deflected two passes in the first half and intercepted a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter.”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, “Right now, they’re the best team in the NFL. In case you think that’s a typo, one more time: The best team in the NFL. If you disagree, perhaps Kam Chancellor should come to your house and deliver a hit like the one he put on Vernon Davis. The Seahawks are the baddest birds in the air presently. They just gave the 49ers, the most consistent team in the NFL over the past two years, the Arizona/Buffalo treatment. They pounded a legitimate Super Bowl contender from start to finish, and yet there’s a part of you that was disappointed that they didn’t score 50 points for a third straight game. Cumulative score for the Seahawks the past three games: 150-30.”
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times comments on the latest Seahawks’ punishing of their opponent, “They aren’t just beating teams, they’re beating up teams. They’re throwing roundhouse punches at teams, the kind of demoralizing punches that suck the want out of teams. They’re punishing opponents and then taunting them, just to make sure the messages are being received. ‘When everything’s working for us, it’s hard to beat us,’ Thomas said. ‘We’re one of the best teams in the league and we showed it tonight.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game story from last night, “Seattle improved to 7-0 at home, and has a chance to finish undefeated at CenturyLink Field for the first time since the team’s 2005 Super Bowl season. ‘We’re doing what we do,’ Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. ‘We’re going to play tough. We’re going to play physical. We’re going to execute, and whatever the score is, that’s the score.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald shares Brewer’s sentiments and says nobody is playing better than the Seahawks right now, “Yes, as crazy as it would have sounded to suggest this a few weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks, who clinched a playoff berth with the victory, look like they are the best team in the NFL right now. ‘We’ve come a long way, we really have,’ said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. ‘We have come along way in the course of the season.’ “
Rich Myhre of the Everett Herald says Wilson’s teammates are clamoring for Wilson to win offensive rookie of the year, “In a national television game against the team with the NFL’s top scoring defense, Wilson completed 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns as Seattle rolled to its third straight blowout victory. ‘Russell played out of his mind as always,’ said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. ‘He was incredibly elusive. He’s called Dangerous Wilson for a reason, and he showed it again tonight. I’m proud he got to show it in prime time in front of everybody because he’s an incredible player. And hopefully this is enough to get him (Rookie of the Year).’ “
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks are fully capable of beating anyone they play, and that the club has “no limits”, “It was fun watching him [Wilson] throw darts, like the 17-yard completion to Jermaine Kearse on third down. It was fun to watch him pump-fake six yards down the field and trick defenders into jumping in the air before rushing right around them. It was fun to watch him scramble back, forward, left, and right before making a play or avoiding a sack.And it’s comforting knowing that he has over-prepared for every game. That he obsessively studies film. That he knows how to protect the ball and his body.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a few notes after the Seahawks’ 42-13 win, “Dropped passes killed the Seahawks during their Week 7 loss to San Francisco. They had no such problem this time. Sidney Rice and Robert Turbin made difficult catches. Marshawn Lynch finished with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and another receiving. Seattle was outstanding on third down, converting 11 times in 13 chances.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com calls the Seahawks the best club in the NFC, “In a night as heavy with superlatives as raindrops, there was one figure that leaped out — the Seahawks converted 11 of 13 third downs against one of the game’s most ferocious defenses. ‘That’s tough to do in the National Football League, and we did it tonight,’ said the mega-precocious Wilson. ‘Our timing was perfect. The line did a tremendous job. (Receivers) are running the right routes at the right time. I’m just getting so much more comfortable back there.’ “
Michael Silver of YahooSports.com writes that the Seahawks are a legitimate contender to win Super Bowl XLVII, “Carroll, in his third time around as an NFL head coach, is largely responsible for the Seahawks’ charmed existence. He is coaching them up with purpose and passion, and though they’re probably staring at a No. 5 postseason seed, they are a legitimate threat to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl. ‘We’ve been trying to get to this tempo, this mentality, this discipline — we’ve been on it for three years working together — and this is what it feels like when you get it rolling,’ Carroll said shortly before leaving the locker room, his toddler-aged granddaughter’s face burrowed into his shoulder. ‘This, I think, is a statement — for us. This wasn’t a team that was struggling. It was a really legitimate opponent. Because of the respect we hold for them this is a valuable realization for us.’ “
Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today says no team in the NFL is having more fun than the Seahawks are right now, “The NFC West won’t be decided until next week – San Francisco can still claim it with a win against Arizona – but there is no doubt who is the division’s hottest team. Seattle has scored 150 points in the past three weeks, 58 against Arizona, 50 against Buffalo and, most impressively, 42 against a San Francisco team that before Sunday had the league’s top-ranked scoring defense at only 15.6 points per game. The Seahawks have an elite running back in Marshawn Lynch, a dominant defense that has held opponents to an average of 11.75 points per game over the last month, and a quarterback in rookie Russell Wilson who just might be the league’s most exciting player. Sunday, just as it has been the previous two weeks, looked effortless, even though rookie quarterback Wilson was adamant that it hasn’t been easy. ‘I think it shows how talented we are, and how we’re prepared for the rest of the season,’ Wilson said. ‘To be able to do that in the fashion we did is pretty special.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com calls the Seahawks the hottest club in the League, “Wilson is going to be a problem for the 49ers and every team the Seahawks face for the foreseeable future, including in the upcoming postseason. Seattle clinched at least a wild-card berth by improving to 10-5. While San Francisco (10-4-1) will likely clinch a second consecutive NFC West title by beating the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17, the Seahawks would not for one minute trade what they’ve got going for what anyone else has going right now.
Sando has his “Rapid Reaction” following Sunday night’s Seahawks win, “Seattle’s physical play on both sides of the ball and on special teams stood out from the beginning. Guard J.R. Sweezy, a surprise starter at right guard, took out Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis at the knees to help spring Marshawn Lynch’s 24-yard touchdown run. Left tackle Russell Okung drove back the 49ers’ Aldon Smith to spring Lynch on another run. Safety Kam Chancellor put big hits on Davis, Bruce Miller and Frank Gore to set the tone. And when Red Bryant blocked a David Akers field-goal try to set up Richard Sherman’s fumble return for a touchdown, the Seahawks were on their way.”
Sando also shares how the voters voted in ESPN.com’s latest NFL Power Rankings, where the Seahawks are listed at No. 6.
NFL.com has an updated look at the playoff picture. As it stands now the Seahawks (No. 5 seed) would travel to our nation’s capital to face Robert Griffin III and the NFC-East leading Washington Redskins (No. 4 seed) in a Wild Card matchup.
The staff at NFL.com debates who is 2012’s offensive Rookie of the Year – Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, or Russell Wilson.
In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, SI.com’s Peter King comments on Sunday’s Seahawks win, “Of all the stats on all the NFL play sheets Sunday, this seemed most amazing to me: Seattle converted 11 of 13 third downs (11 of 12, really, because the final conversion attempt was a kneeldown at the end of the game) against the team that had held Seattle to six points two months ago. The key for Seattle, of course, has been the precocious play of Wilson, who was remarkable in and out of the pocket. He doesn’t scramble like a normal quarterback, or even a quick quarterback. His scrambling is totally unpredictable, and he breaks the rules that say passers should never double-back and go 12 or 15 yards behind the line to try to find a new hole. He does it all the time, fearlessly.”
King lists the Seahawks at the No. 3 spot in his weekly “Fine Fifteen“, “3. Seattle (10-5). A tour de force victory Sunday night over the big, bad wolf of the NFC West that stamped the Seahawks as a real Super Bowl contender. No team has a bigger home-field advantage than the Seahawks (7-0 at CenturyLink this year). Too bad the ‘Hawks will likely have to win three straight on the road to get to the Super Bowl.”
King also asks Neil Hornsby of ProFootballFocus.com to analyze the race for defensive rookie of the year, and Hornsby makes the case for Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner as one of his top three candidates, “After starting the year with Wagner in a two-down role (the Seahawks initially took him out on passing downs), Seattle realized by Week 5 this was a waste of his all-round ability. Since then he’s missed only six snaps, excepting when he was allowed to rest during garbage time of the recent blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo. His primary job, though, is still run defense, and in that regard he couldn’t have done better than his first ranked position in run-stop percentage (a metric that looks at tackles made in the running game that constitute a defeat for the offense), edging Derrick Johnson and NaVorro Bowman among middle linebackers.”
Chris Burke of SI.com says no team will be excited to play the Seahawks come playoff time, “How could any NFC coach want to draw Seattle early? The Seahawks have a dual-threat quarterback playing at an extremely high level, a bruising running back, big-play threats at wide receiver and a punishing, aggressive defense.”
“Cyber surfing” will take a break tomorrow, Christmas Day, and will return on Wednesday, December 26 along with the Seahawks staff, coaches and players as they begin preparations for the regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field.
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
In a nutshell: Seahawks 42, 49ers 13. On the first play of the quarter, Richard Sherman intercepted a third-down pass from Colin Kaepernick in the end zone. Russell Wilson then directed a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his 6-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin and consumed almost eight minutes. Marshawn Lynch carried eight times for 22 yards to go over 100 for the game and Robert Turbin had two carries for 28 yards. The 49ers finally found the end zone with 1:40 left in the game on Colin Kaepernick’s 18-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker on fourth-and-17. The TD capped a 13-play, 90-yard drive that was way too little and way too late.
Players of the quarter: Sherman, who had the end-zone pick; Lynch, who got his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, and eighth of the season; and Baldwin, who caught his second TD pass.
Play of the quarter: Sherman’s end-zone interception, to go along with his end-zone breakup of a pass and 90-yard return of a blocked field goal for a TD in the second quarter.
Number of the quarter: 42. The points the Seahawks scored against a team that had been allowing an average of 15.6, and it follows the Seahawks scoring 58 against the Cardinals two weeks ago and 50 against the Bills last week.
In a nutshell: Seahawks 35, 49ers 6. The 49ers came out on their first possession and moved quickly to the Seahawks’ 32, but Leroy Hill forced a fumble after a reception by Mario Manningham and Kam Chancellor recovered. Russell Wilson then directed a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ended with his 4-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin and consumed almost seven minutes. The Seahawks converted five third-down situations, including the TD pass, as Baldwin made a leaping grab in the end zone. The 49ers had the ball on the Seahawks’ 3 as the quarter ended.
Player of the quarter: Wilson. The rookie QB hit five passes for 47 yards and ran for 9 yards on the Seahawks’ TD drive.
Plays of the quarter: Let’s make it plural and go with the third-down conversions in the Seahawks’ TD drive. On third-and-2, Marshawn Lynch ran for 10 yards. On third-and-1, Michael Robinson ran for the 1. On third-and-8, Wilson passed 17 yards to Jermaine Kearse. On third-and-6, Robert Turbin made a nice grab of an 11-yard pass from Wilson. Then came the TD pass, on third-and-goal.
Number of the quarter: 15. The numbers of minutes left for the Seahawks to clinch a playoff berth.
In a nutshell: Seahawks 28, 49ers 6. The Seahawks made it 21-0 on the third play of the quarter, when Red Bryant blocked David Akers’ 21-yard field attempt with his right hand and Richard Sherman returned the block 90 yards up the sideline for the score. The 49ers got their field goal when a Russell Wilson pass went off the hands of rookie running back Robert Turbin and linebacker Patrick Willis intercepted the carom. Akers kicked a 33-yarder after the defense held. The Seahawks came right back and drove 60 yards in a 13-play drive that consumed almost 8½ minutes to Wilson’s 6-yard TD pass to Anthony McCoy. Lynch carried six times for 23 yards, while Wilson was 3 of 3 for 21 yards. But the 49ers then drove 31 yards in seven plays to a 54-yarder by Akers with 31 second left in the half.
Player of the quarter: Sherman. He scored on the 90-yard return with the blocked field goal and just before that prevented the 49ers from scoring a TD by batting away Colin Kaepernick’s third-and-goal pass to Michael Crabtree in the end zone.
Play of the quarter: The blocked field goal, as Heath Farwell helped clear a lane for Bryant, who used almost every inch of his fully extended 6-foot-4 frame to bat the ball. Sherman did the rest to score the third TD by the special teams this season.
Number of the quarter: 28. The Seahawks hung that many points in the first half on the team that entered the game allowing the fewest points in the league.
In a nutshell: 14-0. The 49ers got the ball first, as the Seahawks won the coin flip but deferred. After a three-and-out, a 16-yard punt return by Leon Washington and a 15-yard roughness penalty by the 49ers’ Tramaine Brock after the punt, the Seahawks had a first down at the 49ers’ 35. Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 24-yard run to the left side, with key blocks from center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung, tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks had to drive the long field on their next possession, and did, with Lynch scoring on a 9-yard pass from Russell Wilson to cap a nine-play, 86-yard drive. Lynch carried five times for 17, while Wilson was 2 of 2 for 57 yards also ran for 3 yards on a third-and-1 play. The 49ers had the ball at the Seahawks’ 4 as the quarter ended.
Player of the quarter: Lynch. He ran for the first touchdown and scored the second on a pass for his first receiving TD. Honorable mention to Baldwin, who had the goal-line block on Lynch’s TD run and a 43-yard reception on the drive to Lynch’s TD catch.
Play of the quarter: Lynch’s TD run. Yes, it was vintage Lynch. But the blocks he got made it happen, especially Baldwin’s block on cornerback Tarell Brown at the goal line.
Number of the quarter: 24. Lynch is No. 24, and scored on a 24-yard run.
The Seahawks will not have to deal with Pro Bowl defensive lineman Justin Smith in tonight’s game at CenturyLink Field. Smith got an elbow injury in last week’s game against the Patriots and has been named inactive for tonight’s game.
That’s significant-plus, because Smith is a great player in his own right and has been credited with improving the game of Aldon Smith, who has 19.5 sacks.
Justin Smith had started 185 consecutive games.
For the Seahawks, neither Marcus Trufant nor Walter Thurmond will play because of the hamstring injuries that have sidelined them for three games (Trufant) and last week’s game (Thurmond). Each pacticed on a limited basis Friday, but coach Pete Carroll said they would have to show they could play in pregame warm-ups.
Also, John Moffitt is inactive, so rookie J.R. Sweezy will start at right guard.
Also inactive for the Seahawks:
CB DeShawn Shead
OG Rishaw Johnson
OT Mike Person
DT Jaye Howard
Also inactive for the 49ers:
QB Scott Tolzien
WR A.J. Jenkins
S Trent Robinson
RB Jewel Hampton
LB Clark Haggans
OG Joe Looney