Russell Wilson has another monster game in 35-6 victory over Baltimore as Seahawks move into the No. 5 playoff spot in the NFC thanks to their tiebreaker over the Vikings.
BALTIMORE — What’s happened the past few weeks is really pretty simple, the way Richard Sherman sees it.
“The Seattle Seahawks back to doing what they do — being the Seattle Seahawks,’’ Sherman said after a 35-6 victory over Baltimore on Sunday. It was the Seahawks’ fourth victory in a row.
That return to form, though, didn’t stop when the game ended.
In maybe the clearest sign yet that everything is back to normal, Sherman — who at times this year has been almost drab in his interviews — decided not to let the sentence end there, pausing and then declaring, “Let’s call all those people who wrote us off and call for their jobs.’’
As the game Sunday made clear, this is a team that once again is making loud statements on and off the field, overcoming some early sloppy play to easily dispatch the Ravens.
The Seahawks improved to 8-5 and moved into the NFC’s No. 5 playoff spot.
The postseason seems certain for the Seahawks, and they appear to be a team ready to make a long run.
“It’s the pretenders in the beginning of the season and at the end of the season, it’s always the contenders,’’ Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said, leaving no doubt which category in which they belong. “The great teams play great football in December.’’
And in a way, this was a victory as impressive as any this season, coming as it did at the back end of consecutive road trips, and after the Seahawks saw leading rusher Thomas Rawls leave in the first quarter because of a broken ankle that will sideline him the rest of the season.
The loss of Rawls put a damper on things. The Seahawks hope for a quick return from Marshawn Lynch and likely will add another running back or two.
But injuries also are a reality of football, and the Seahawks shrugged that off, as well as some early mistakes, to dominate the Ravens (4-9), who had not lost by more than eight points until Sunday.
The obvious hero was quarterback Russell Wilson, who one-upped his game for the ages of last week to again throw a team-record-tying five touchdown passes, giving him 16 the past four weeks and 26 for the season. That ties his career high with three games left.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, sounded almost more excited about an offensive line that didn’t allow Wilson to get sacked. The Ravens were credited with just one quarterback hit.
“Russell had a great opportunity to sit back there and do his stuff, and he took full advantage of it again,’’ Carroll said.
So, too, did Doug Baldwin, who caught three more touchdown passes to give him eight in the past three weeks, and rookie Tyler Lockett, who had two touchdowns Sunday and has 13 receptions in the past two games.
The defense, meanwhile, didn’t allow an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive week.
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“For the defense not to give up a touchdown two weeks back-to-back, that’s really special stuff,’’ Carroll said.
Sure, maybe the defensive performance comes with an asterisk because the Ravens had to go with third-team quarterback Jimmy Clausen to replace the injured Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub. Clausen made some weird NFL history by becoming the sixth quarterback to start against the same team for two different teams in the same year, having also started against Seattle for the Bears in September.
Still, the Seahawks came in with a defensive game plan, and other than a few plays they executed it about as well as hoped.
Given the Ravens’ quarterback uncertainty, the Seahawks wanted to take out their running game and force them to pass. The Seahawks did just that, holding the Ravens to 28 yards on 14 carries a week after limiting Adrian Peterson of the Vikings to 18 yards on eight carries.
“Teams are having a hard time getting anything going (against the Seahawks),’’ Bennett said.
Bennett talked of walking in the stadium and knowing it’s where some of the best defense of the past two decades has been played by the likes of Ravens stars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
“When you come here, you want to play great defense,’’ Bennett said.
Clausen played better in this game than he had for the Bears in September, throwing for 178 yards in the first half Sunday.
But the Seattle defense forced a fumble late in the first half that led to a 14-6 halftime lead, and it limited Clausen and the Ravens in the second half. The defense took great delight in a fourth-quarter, fourth-down stop to preserve the touchdown-less streak.
They also heartily cheered an offense that has lost Lynch, Rawls and Jimmy Graham in the past month and seems to somehow only have gotten better.
“Russell is just letting that thing go,’’ Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said. “He looks so much more confident. No one can cover Doug. The offensive line is protecting really good. It gives the defense a break. We’re just out there chilling, cheering those guys on, and it’s fun.’’
|After the victory Sunday, with three games to go, the Seahawks moved into the first wild-card spot in the NFC because they own the tiebreaker over the Vikings. Six teams make the playoffs, with the four division winners seeded by record, followed by two wild-card teams. If the playoffs started today, Seattle would play at Washington.|
|1. Carolina||13-0||NFC South|
|2. Arizona||11-2||NFC West|
|3. Green Bay||8-4||NFC North|
|4. Washington||6-7||NFC East|
|5. Seattle||8-5||Wild card|
|6. Minnesota||8-5||Wild card|
|7. Tampa Bay||6-7||Not in|
|8. Atlanta||6-7||Not in|
|9. Philadelphia||6-7||Not in|
|10. N.Y. Giants||5-7||Not in|