SEATTLE - Bobby Wagner has never made a play like the one he made to help punctuate the Seahawks’ dominant victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Not just in his seven seasons in the NFL, he isn’t sure he has ever.
But with the Seahawks already headed toward a comfortable victory over the 49ers, Wagner jumped in front of a Nick Mullens pass at the goal line to secure an interception he would return 98 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return for a touchdown in franchise history. That touchdown was the final score of a 43-16 victory over San Francisco that improved Seattle’s record to 7-5.
“I think that was the first pick-6 of my life,” Wagner said. “I was just trying to make sure the quarterback didn’t catch me, because if he did, everyone was going to give me a little crap. It was extra nice to be running along the 49ers sideline. I tried to look at (Richard Sherman), but I didn’t see him.”
Wagner celebrated the touchdown by lying down on the field, using the ball as a pillow, a celebration that may have been more practical than celebratory.
“I was super tired, and I was trying to figure out which celebration I can catch my breath on,” he said. “I figure what better celebration than to go to sleep.”
Wagner’s touchdown was impressive, to be sure, but it was far from the only play he made in the game. Wagner, who had 48 tackles in his previous four games, added 12 more, including two tackles for loss and one sack. He also recorded two passes defensed, and provided another big play in the red zone, stripping the ball and recovering it for an early turnover that kept the 49ers from potentially making it a one-score game early in the second quarter. In other words, Wagner filled in every line on the defensive stat sheet.
Wagner also became the first player in franchise history to have an interception return for a touchdown, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack in the same game since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
“You can’t talk about this game unless you talk about Bobby Wagner,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He just had a phenomenal game. There’s not many more things the guy could do. He had (12) tackles, he took the ball away from them on a fumble, he had a sack, he had an interception for a touchdown, all-time ever longest play in the history of the franchise. Just did another marvelous job of taking care of all the leadership stuff that he does, too.
“He’s playing as good as you can play the game. He’s a phenomenal football player, really in the peak of his career, doing a great job, making all the plays. But he does so much more than that for us. He’s a great Seahawk, and we’re lucky to have him.”
Wagner’s big game left him at 99 tackles this season with five games remaining, meaning he’s on his way to a seventh-straight season with 100 or more tackles, something no other player in franchise history has accomplished. And on Sunday Wagner showed that, even seven years into his career, he’s still got wheels.
“Bobby and I always have this discussion on who’s faster,” said fellow 2012 draft pick Russell Wilson. “He always talks about how he can chase me down. Today, he was rolling. Just watching him catch—first of all, the catch, I mean, he could play receiver if he wanted to, just him catching that football the way he did, how he reacted. I don’t even think it was 98 yards, I think it was 100, because I saw his foot on the goal line I thought, but maybe not. We’ll have to check the stats there. Just to see him accelerate and go down the sideline. He had a special game tonight. He’s the best linebacker in the game and nobody can argue that. I think that he’s been making a lot of great plays. He makes our defense tick, he does the right thing, he knows how to do it, and he prepares the right way. One of the things that Bobby and I will always say is don’t get bored with consistency. He believes in consistency, he believes in his approach and how he prepares. We just love him being the quarterback of the defense, and vice versa, it’s pretty fun to be able to work against each other and work together every day.”
2018 Week 13: 'My Cause, My Cleats'
Seattle Seahawks players show off their custom footwear for the NFL's 'My Cause, My Cleats' initiative during the team's Week 13 game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.