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Primed for primetime
TORONTO – What more could Russell Wilson possibly do in his rookie season for the Seahawks?
How about become the first quarterback in franchise history – and only the third in the NFL during the past decade – to run for three touchdowns in a game? Or be the first quarterback since 1950 to lead 50-plus point performances in back-to-back weeks?
That’s exactly what Wilson did Sunday, when his three rushing TDs and also a fourth on a pass to tight end Zach Miller ignited the Seahawks’ 50-17 romp over the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre. Coupled with last week’s 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks and their rookie quarterback are not just treading on historic stuff, they’re stomping all over it, as they prepare for next Sunday night’s nationally televised showdown with the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
Depending on what happens in the 49ers’ game against the Patriots in New England on Sunday night, the rematch with the 49ers could be for the division lead.
“The way we’ve been playing, the way we’ve been finishing, we’re making a statement around the NFL,” said linebacker K.J. Wright, who contributed an interception to the Buffalo beat down. “We’re going to come out on primetime and show people what we can do.”
Sunday’s victory allowed the Seahawks to soar over several hurdles. At 9-5, they have assured their first winning season since 2007. After the overtime win against the Bears in Chicago two weeks ago and the blowout victory over the Cardinals, they have their first three-game winning streak since last December – which was their first since they won five in a row in 2007.
The win also allowed the Seahawks to hold the No. 5 seed – or first wild-card spot – in the NFC playoff picture, as well as finish the road portion of the regular season with a 3-5 record for the second year in a row – and the last time they posted a better road record (5-3) was during the run to the Super Bowl in 2005.
But what about Wilson’s latest what-will-he-do-next effort against the Bills?
“He continues to surprise you, and continues to surpass the expectations,” Miller said. “He has real good command of the field and knows where guys are coming. He sees the field really well. He doesn’t miss many open guys. He throws such a good ball.
“And then he’s got his legs to extend the play or just run with it.”
And run with it. And run with it. And run with it. As Wilson did time and again on Sunday to not only score, but extend plays and frustrate and wear down the Bills’ defense.
But this was not a one-man show. Far from it, regardless of how it appeared at various junctures in the Seahawks’ first regular-season game in Canada as Wilson weaved through the Bills’ defense for 53 yards worth of scoring runs and 92 total rushing yards.
Marshawn Lynch, who was playing for the first time against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2008 and traded him to the Seahawks in 2010, needed only 10 carries to rush for 113 yards. He scored on a 13-yard run and also broke a 54-yarder. It was Lynch’s eighth 100-yard rushing performance this season, and the second time in two weeks that he averaged more than 11 yards per carry (11.3).
Free safety Earl Thomas intercepted a Ryan Fitzgerald pass in the third quarter and turned in an I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw 57-yard return for a touchdown. Wright’s interception in the third quarter setup Lynch’s TD run. Leo end Chris Clemons had 2.5 sacks, one forcing a fumble that was recovered by rookie end Bruce Irvin to setup one of Steven Hauschka’s three field goals.
The Seahawks scored on their first five possessions, and seven of their first seven eight. On their eighth, and final scoring drive, they held the ball for more than nine minutes of the fourth quarter before a Hauschka field goal capped the 17-yard, 88-yard game of keep-away.
You get the picture. The Seahawks dominated this one from start to finish. Just as they did last week against the Cardinals. Mix in the overtime win over the Bears and they couldn’t be on more of a roll entering next Sunday night’s rematch with the 49ers – who beat them 13-7 in Week 7 in San Francisco.
Wilson’s take? The usual.
“We’re definitely clicking well,” he said. “To be able to do what we did today, come to Toronto and play the Buffalo Bills and play as efficient as we did today, is pretty impressive. We’ve just got to keep going.
“I definitely think the sky’s the limit. But you have to play one game at a time, (take it) one practice at a time, like I always say. We’re doing that right now. Guys are making tremendous plays out there.”
The next practices, of course, will lead to that next game – against the 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
“We know who we are. We just have to go out and prove it every week,” Clemons said. “We’ve got everything in our hands. We’ve just got to go and take it, because nobody’s going to give it to us.
“We’re going to enjoy this win on the way home. But when we step off the plane, we’re going to be getting ready to play San Francisco.”