By Dave Thomas
Playing some of their best ball of the season, the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) rolled to a 35-6 road win at Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.
Behind five touchdowns from quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks were dominant from start to finish, capturing their eighth win of the season. With the win, Seattle remains in control of its playoff destiny, that is holding on to a NFC Wild Card spot if it wins out.
Meantime, John Harbaugh and the Ravens were at a disadvantage essentially from when the game kicked off. Having an unusual down season, Baltimore (4-9) is just playing out the string at this point, with injuries to key players having had a major impact on the team’s ability to compete in the AFC North and overall in the league for that matter.
With the win, Seattle now returns home for back-to-back games against Cleveland and St. Louis, respectively, then travels to Arizona for a regular season-ending meeting with the Cardinals on Jan. 3.
On a day where Seattle should have dominated on the offensive side of the ball, it did just that. Wilson ended up going 23-of-32 for 292 yards. The only downside for the offensive unit was losing rookie running back Thomas Rawls to a season-ending ankle injury. Rawls, who has been more than just a replacement for starting running back Marshawn Lynch (recovering from abdominal surgery), broke his ankle, thereby ending what has been a tremendous rookie campaign (entered the game with 786 yards rushing). The best hope for Seattle is that Lynch returns sooner than later, allowing the running game to compliment Wilson’s recent tear (16 TD’s in his last four games) of opposing defenses. On the receiving end, Doug Baldwin caught six balls (82 yards) for three touchdowns, while Tyler Lockett hauled-in six receptions for 104 yards and two scores. Making matters even better for the Seahawks, the offensive line prevented Wilson from being sacked all afternoon.
When your offense is clicking like Seattle’s has been in recent weeks, the defense wants to equal such play. On this afternoon, Seattle’s defense was equal to the task. Baltimore managed only 16 first downs and a pair of Justin Tucker field goals. Leading the Seattle defensive charge was K.J. Wright (eight total tackles) and Bobby Wagner (six total stops). Granted, Baltimore is far from the number one offense in the league, but putting the clamps on the Ravens sends yet another good signal about how Seattle’s ‘D’ is playing in recent weeks (Beat Minnesota 38-7 a week ago). With lowly Cleveland and St. Louis on tap the next two weekends, two more stalwart defensive efforts would certainly give this unit even more confidence heading into a showdown with Carson Palmer and the Cardinals to end the regular season.
Special Teams: (A-)
It was a rather quiet day for punter Jon Ryan (three punts for a 51-yard average) and kicker Steven Hauschka (five extra points). When your offense and defense are in-tune, the special teams can sit back for the most part and enjoy their day.
Remember only a month or two ago when many around the league (including some Seattle fans) were wondering what was wrong with the Seahawks? While you certainly do not want to hit your stride before the playoffs, the Seahawks have caught fire in recent weeks, making them yet again a dangerous team in the NFC. For head coach Pete Carroll, keeping this team going in the right direction over the next three Sundays is crucial, making Seattle a team you do not want to play come playoff time.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.