By Chris Cluff
Russell Wilson became the first quarterback in Seattle Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns and the Seahawks became the third team in NFL history to score 50 points in consecutive games as they blew out the Buffalo Bills 50-17 in Toronto on Sunday.
The Seahawks are the first team in 62 years to hit the half-century mark consecutively — the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants both did it in 1950 — according to STATS. Also, the 108 points in back-to-back weeks matched the third-highest total in league history. More important, the Seahawks (9-5) won for the fifth time in six games and are just one win from a playoff spot. They also have an outside chance of winning the NFC West.
There was a bit of a letdown Sunday night when the 49ers (10-3-1) held on to beat New England. If the 49ers had lost, the upcoming Sunday night game between the Hawks and Niners would have been for the division lead. Now, the Hawks can win the division only if they win out and the 49ers also lose at home against Arizona in the finale (fat chance).
Early in the season, Wilson ran when he felt pressure and couldn’t find a receiver. Then he got to the point that he was comfortable enough to stay in the pocket to find his receiver. And now he is running as part of the play design. Wilson had not run for a touchdown all season, but he had two in the first quarter Sunday. The first one was off a zone read for 14 yards. On the second one, he had intended to pass but ended up running it in from 25 yards when Buffalo had no one marking him. Wilson reportedly became the first NFL player to rush for three touchdowns and throw for one in the same half. He completed 14-of-23 passes for 205 yards and also ran for a season-high 92 yards on nine carries.
Marshawn Lynch went over 100 yards for the eighth time this season, gaining 113 yards on 10 carries. He also scored from 13 yards in the third quarter — his 10th touchdown this season.
The Hawks had 466 yards, including 270 rushing. They have run for 554 yards the past two weeks and have gone over 170 seven times. Grade: A
The defense got off to a shaky start, letting the Bills cut into a 24-point lead by halftime, making it 31-17. They failed to create any pressure in the first half, and 31 points seemed like it might not be enough. But then the defense came up big on three straight possessions to start the second half. The first was an interception by K.J Wright that set up Seattle at the Buffalo 20-yard line. Lynch’s 13-yard TD run put the Hawks up 37-17 (the PAT was blocked).
On Buffalo’s next series, Chris Clemons sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick on third down at the Seattle 39 and caused a fumble that Bruce Irvin picked up and returned to the Bills’ 10. The Hawks got a field goal off that one for a 40-17 lead.
On the next series, Earl Thomas made one of the defense’s great plays of the season with a diving interception of an underthrown pass and a blazing, darting, weaving, very determined 57-yard return for a touchdown. That highlighted a nice day for Thomas, who had a great stop on C.J. Spiller behind the line and also batted down a pass while making five tackles.
Clemons had 2.5 sacks — his best tally since he had four in the first half of the Green Bay game in Week Three. Clemons’ 11.5 sacks are a career high, topping the 11 he had in each of the past two seasons. Grade: A-
Leon Washington seemed set for a big return from the start, and it in fact happened in the third quarter when he ran a punt back 86 yards for a touchdown. The problem: It was nullified by two questionable holding penalties. Steven Hauschka had a PAT blocked, which should never happen. Grade: C
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made some great calls, especially the zone read run in the first quarter that produced Wilson’s first touchdown and the lateral flea flicker from Lynch to Wilson to Golden Tate for 44 yards in the second quarter.
For some reason, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley does not like to blitz on the road. And it hurts the Seahawks every time. He brought more in the second half, once the Hawks had a big lead, but he absolutely has to do it early in games if the Hawks are going to stop anyone. The defense recently has been the weakness on this team, and it is largely because of Bradley’s conservative plans on the road.
The Seahawks, leading 47-17 in the fourth quarter, pulled off a fake punt on fourth-and-4 from the Buffalo 43-yard line. It was an automatic call based on Buffalo’s formation, and Carroll said he felt bad about not calling it off. Upback Chris Maragos took the snap and handed off to fullback Michael Robinson, who gained 29 yards on an inside run.
“We looked for it every time we were going to punt, and it was just there,” Carroll told reporters, per The Seattle Times. “I should have stopped it in the sense that it looked bad.” Grade: B
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.