Otto Greule Jr
Seattle clinches a spot in the Playoffs for the second time in Pete Carroll's 3-year tenure with a big win on national television.
The Seahawks went 11-for-13 on 3rd down, 4-for-4 in the redzone and cruised to a 42-13 win over division rival San Francisco 49ers Sunday night to clinch a spot no worse than the 5-seed in the NFL Playoffs. The seeding still has some working out to do, but the Seahawks could still get in with the 5th, 3rd or 2nd seed (with first-round bye), depending on what shakes out in Week 17.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards on 26 attempts (4.3 yards per carry), with what seemed to be a vast majority coming from the Seahawks' read-zone looks (LINK, LINK, LINK) and the newly introduced Pistol packages (LINK). Seattle did run from their base I-formation packages too, but the story of the game was 'college-style' stuff giving the Niners' defense, sans Justin Smith, fits. Lynch also caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson on a little leak route underneath.
The Seahawks finished the game with 176 yards on the ground on 39 carries. Marshawn Lynch eclipsed 100 yards for the third straight time against the feared Niners' run defense, and he represents three of the last five 100+ yard games the 49ers have surrendered to an opposing running back. Robert Turbin looked good in limited action, carrying the ball three times for 38 yards - a long scamper up the sideline for 24 yards being his long run - and he also had a huge third-down catch that resulted in a first down. That big catch helped to make up for missing a high pass from Wilson that resulted in an interception, the Seahawks only major misstep on the game.
Russell Wilson ended 15-of-21 for 171 yards, four touchdowns and one pick. He also rushed for 29 yards on six attempts. Wilson and the Seahawks offense dominated on third downs and were extremely efficient in the redzone, as I said above, and that aspect proved very crucial to put the game away fairly quickly in the first half. Wilson now has 25 passing touchdowns on the season (plus three rushing), one short of the rookie record for passing touchdowns, 26, that is held by Peyton Manning. Wilson will have a chance to match or break that record next weekend in the Seahawks final regular season game.
It was great to see Doug Baldwin really show up huge in this game, and the former Cardinal and UDFA does seem to have a knack for big games against his former coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh. Chip on shoulder, largely intact. Baldwin caught four passes for 52 yards and two second-half touchdowns. Golden Tate added two catches for 27 yards, and Anthony McCoy caught a touchdown from six yards out. Darrell Bevell put together a great gameplan and the Niners didn't seem to have an answer for the juggernaut that is Seattle's offense right now.
Seahawks' special teams came up big, and on the 3rd play of the 2nd quarter, Red Bryant blocked an attempted 49ers field goal, which was scooped up by Richard Sherman for a return touchdown to give Seattle a 21-0 lead and all the momentum they needed to start running away with it. Special Teams are an integral cog to Pete Carroll's program, and the highest-paid player on the defense blocking a kick and being scooped/returned by possibly the best player on the defense is a perfect example of the emphasis that Carroll puts on that part of the game.
Sherman also picked off Colin Kaepernick in the endzone on the first play of the fourth quarter, mostly putting the game away, if it wasn't already over at that point. Sherman added four passes defensed to bounce back nicely from his sub-standard outing against the Bills. Sherman also had some interesting comments after the game about his impending PED suspension appeal, saying that he's 'incredibly optimistic' about the upcoming decision, and noted that 'they broke the rules they can't break', alluding to the tampered sample that led to his failed test. Via ESPN's Liz Mathews, Sherman said after the game, "It should go well, there was a chain of custody mistake by the tester. The league's argument is they're allowed to make mistakes, they're allowed to break the rules, and they can get away with it."
Kam Chancellor also had a big game, forcing a fumble, recovering another fumble, and put a big hit on Vernon Davis late in the first quarter that knocked the Niners' explosive TE out of the game. The hit looked clean to the chest of Davis on the replays, but the play was flagged unnecessary roughness. Regardless, it was a tough loss for the Niners' offense early on, as Davis was diagnosed with a concussion and could not return.
The Seahawks held the Niners to 82 yards rushing and only six points on two field goals until late into garbage time, when Kaepernick connected with Delanie Walker in the back of the endzone. Seattle controlled the clock with 35:09 T.O.P compared to San Francisco's 24:51.
The Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and it's not close. They've outscored their last three opponents 150-30, and prior to the Niners' breaking the 21-0 shutout with a David Akers field goal, were on a ridiculous 100-unanswered-point tear at The CLink.
The Seahawks move to 10-5, and face the Rams next week.
Note: Do us all a favor and don't go heading over to NinersNation to troll. Just enjoy the win right here... probably save yourself a headache anyway. The ban-hammer over there shall be swift and merciless if you're just showing up to troll.