A week after the Seahawks put together their defining win of the season, at Carolina, they added an exclamation point with a 43-16 win vs. former Seahawk Richard Sherman and the undermanned 49ers.
Russell Wilson threw a season-best four TD passes, each one marked by the receivers’ celebration skits (including an homage to Sherman’s famous Tip); Bobby Wagner played easily his best game of the season, setting a team record with his 98-yard pick-six; and the Seahawks moved two games over .500 for the first time this season — happy to show Sherman they are not a “middle of the road” team as they beat the 49ers for the ninth straight time.
The Seahawks officially moved into playoff position, where they can remain if they beat Minnesota next week and win the final three. (Even dropping one game probably wouldn’t hurt them that much.) If the season ended today, the Hawks would be the No. 6 seed.
The 43 points were a season best and the ninth time the Hawks have hit 40 with Wilson as quarterback. They are 9-0 in those games. The 43-16 score was yet another notch for Seattle in the Scorigami ledger — the ninth straight year Pete Carroll’s clubs had won with a unique score in NFL history.
Carroll loves the stat, joking: “Just something we’ve been working on in the offseason.”
Wilson hit 11 of 17 passes as he continued to play pretty consistent ball following his great game at Carolina. His 140.9 passer rating was second only to his perfect rating in the Week 8 win at Detroit, where he also threw just 17 passes (tied for second-fewest in his career).
In the first half, Wilson completed a mere 4 of 6 passes, hitting three for TDs. It was the fewest completions with three TDs in the first half of an NFL game since 1991.
“He really had a great football game,” Carroll said. “The (52-yard TD) throw to Tyler Lockett was exquisite. … Russell’s doing a phenomenal job with our offense.”
Wilson threw so little — and so effectively — because the offense churned out 168 rushing yards — the eighth time in the past nine weeks the Hawks have gone over 150. The Seahawks are 5-3 in those games.
Chris Carson led the way with 69 yards on 13 carries and Rashaad Penny was explosive on his nine carries — gaining 65 yards, including a 20-yard TD run on the first play after Lockett’s 84-yard kickoff return.
Wagner had his most impactful game of the season: 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, two QB hits, two passes defensed, a fumble steal and the record-setting pick-six.
“You can’t talk about this game unless you talk about Bobby Wagner,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “He just had a phenomenal game. There’s not many more things the guy could do. He had (12) tackles. He took the ball away from them on a fumble. He had a sack. He had an interception for a touchdown, all-time ever longest play in the history of the franchise. Just did another marvelous job of taking care of all the leadership stuff that he does, too.
“He’s playing as good as you can play the game. He’s at the peak of his career. He’s a great Seahawk. We’re lucky to have him.”
The Seahawks’ defense was unusually stout against the run, giving up 2.9 yards per carry — Austin Calitro and Poona Ford both stood out. But the unit also surrendered a bunch of yards in the passing game — Mullens threw for 414. A week after giving up over 200 scrimmage yards to Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, Seattle missed a lot of tackles and let the 49ers gain too many yards on RB screens.
“We understand we have a lot of stuff we need to improve on,” Wagner said.
As we wrote last week, the defense is still missing a couple of key pieces to help this team win the Super Bowl. But the Hawks at least look like they are going to make the playoffs again and give it a go.
“We’re putting together the right formula for us to make a push here,” Carroll said. “We’ve had a lot of good finishes and played well in December. I’m hoping this can be one of those years.”