Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta hands out grades from the Seahawks’ victory over the Browns on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Maybe it wasn’t quite as clean or emphatic as the Seahawks’ triumphs the previous two weeks.
But when it ended, they had both another victory and another playoff berth. Their 30-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns got them into the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Seahawks since a 4-5 start had their playoff odds looking dim.
Now the only question is where they will start the postseason.
The Seahawks needed Arizona to lose to the Eagles on Sunday to have a chance to win the NFC West, but because that didn’t happen, Seattle will be relegated to a wild-card spot. As of Sunday, the Seahawks held the No. 5 spot, which — as it stands now — would mean a game at Washington Jan. 9 or 10.
In the meantime, here is how the Seahawks graded out Sunday:
Though there was much pregame speculation about the running-back situation, the Seahawks got more than they might have expected out of Christine Michael and Bryce Brown, which helped allow Russell Wilson to have another history-making game.
Wilson wasn’t quite as spectacular this game as the previous few weeks. But by any other standard this was another standout game as he was 21 of 30 for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions the past five weeks.
Derrick Coleman got the start at tailback, but the Seahawks did indeed pretty much just go with the hot hand early, as Pete Carroll said they would, also giving Brown and Michael carries before the end of the second series.
Michael then got the bulk of the work, finishing with a career-high 84 yards on 16 carries (his previous best was 71 yards on four carries last year against the Giants).
Though the game said a lot about Michael’s apparent recommitment in his second stint with Seattle, it also spoke to the continued maturation of the offensive line, with Seattle rushing for its third-highest total of the season — 182 yards — despite not having Marshawn Lynch or Thomas Rawls.
And receivers Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett continue to excel. Sunday, it was Kearse setting a career high with 110 yards on seven receptions, and Baldwin had two more touchdowns (for 10 in the past four games) and Lockett one.
Seattle also remained lights-out on third down, converting 9 of 12 against the Browns. It was the fifth consecutive game at 54 percent or better after not converting more than 46 percent in the first nine games. Seattle is 41 of 64 on third downs in the past five games.
The defense had a shaky start, allowing the Browns to go 80 yards on 15 plays to start the game — breaking an eight-quarter streak of not allowing a touchdown.
But from that point on, the defense was largely stout other than a couple of big plays. The Browns finished with 94 rushing yards on 17 carries, but 39 came on one fourth-quarter run. Other than that, Cleveland’s running backs didn’t have a run for longer than 6 yards, a week after the Browns rushed for 230 against the 49ers.
Though Johnny Manziel made some things happen with his legs, he threw for just 161 yards, averaging only 3.9 yards an attempt.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane had a stellar game helping clog up the run and also getting a sack, his first full sack of the season, and Michael Bennett had another typical day with five tackles and a sack.
The Seahawks had to shuffle some things in the secondary with strong safety Kam Chancellor out and cornerback DeShawn Shead leaving in the first series because of a sprained ankle from last week.
But all the replacements held up.
Kelcie McCray stepped in for Chancellor and led the Seahawks with eight tackles. Jeremy Lane moved outside to take over for Shead and had four tackles. And Marcus Burley played the nickel and had a sack and an interception.
Mostly good with one notable exception when the Seahawks let Cleveland’s Rasheem Mostert get outside on a kickoff return, leading to a 53-yard return that set up a Browns field goal.
Steven Hauschka, who got credit for the tackle on Mostert, kicked three field goals, two coming in the final 55 seconds of the first half, and now is 25 of 26 for the season. His first Sunday, from 49 yards, came after Jon Ryan did a nice job to get the ball down in time after a rare high snap from Clint Gresham.
Lockett added a 30-yard return after Cleveland’s first touchdown.