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Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 43, 49ers 16

WagnerRapids

SEATTLE - The Seahawks returned to CenturyLink Field on Sunday and dominated in all three phases, rolling to a 43-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. And not only did the Seahawks play a complete game, they kept alive one of the stranger streaks in football, recording a unique score, also known as scorigami, meaning no other game in NFL history has finished 43-16. Since Pete Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks have recorded one scorigami score every season, winning all of them, including a 43-8 win in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Here are five takeaways from a victory that improved Seattle’s record to 7-5 and kept them in good position to contend for a playoff berth.

1. Bobby Wagner was incredible.

Bobby Wagner has been on a role of late, recording 13 tackles in three of his last four games—he “only” had nine in the other game during that stretch. But as good as he has been, Wagner took his game to another level on Sunday, coming up with a number of huge plays that played a big role in Seattle’s blowout victory. 

Early in the game with the 49ers threatening to score, Wagner stripped the ball just before the goal line, giving him a forced fumble and a recovery that prevented a potential score. Late in the game, Wagner put an exclamation point on the victory with a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown, the longest in team history and first pick-six of his career. Wagner also came up with yet another double-digit tackle game, recording 12, and recorded a sack.

And Wagner wasn’t the only linebacker making plays on Sunday. Austin Calitro, who again was filling in for K.J. Wright at weakside linebacker, added 10 tackles, two for a loss.

2. Russell Wilson had a very efficient day.

The Seahawks didn’t throw the ball often on Sunday, because they didn’t need to, not with the defense and special teams each creating turnovers, and not with the running game going well. But when Russell Wilson did drop back to pass, he was absurdly efficient, particularly in the first half as the Seahawks built a 20-3 halftime lead. In that first half, Wilson attempted just six passes, but three of those attempts went for touchdowns, with Wilson going 4 for 6 for 103 yards. Wilson didn’t quite keep up that crazy pace in the second half, but still had a very impressive final stat line, completing 11 of 17 for 185 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a passer rating of 140.9.

Sunday was Wilson’s fourth straight game with multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions, and his seventh such game this season.

It’s hardly a surprise that Wilson had an efficient day seeing as he came into the game ranked second in the NFL in touchdown percentage, and with a 112.0 passer rating that ranked fourth in the league.

3. Tyler Lockett is a big-play machine.

Coming into Sunday’s game, the average length of a Tyler Lockett touchdown over the past four seasons was 41.0 yards. Against the 49ers, Lockett improved that number a bit, hauling in a 52-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter for his team-leading and career-high ninth touchdown of the season.

Of course Lockett, who is a three-time All-Pro as a returner, can make big plays happen on special teams as well, something he showed with an 84-yard kickoff return to open the second half. That return set up another Seahawks touchdown, with Rashaad Penny scoring on a 20-yard run on the next play.

Lockett was open for another potential big play in the third quarter but fell victim to a rather blatant pass interference penalty that moved the ball 43 yards down the field.

And Lockett wasn’t the only Seahawks receiver coming up with big plays, as Jaron Brown hauled in three catches for a team-high 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

4. The Tip: Part II

Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith were a part of one of the most famous and significant plays in Seahawks history, with Sherman tipping a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone to Smith, who secured the interception to secure a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.

With Sherman and Smith back in town as members of the 49ers, Seattle’s receivers celebrated the first touchdown of the game by reenacting that play. Brown, who scored the touchdown, played the role of Kaepernick, lofting a pass towards Lockett, who was playing the role of receiver Michael Crabtree. Doug Baldwin, one of Sherman’s closest friends dating back to their days as teammates at Stanford, played the part of Sherman, tipping the ball to David Moore, who was playing the part of Smith.

For added authenticity, Baldwin went to Lockett for a handshake, and Lockett shoved Baldwin in the face. Even better, the touchdown happened in the same south end zone where the original tip-play occurred, allowing the receivers to do the reenactment right where Sherman initially made the play.

5. Turnover differential made a big difference.

The Seahawks and 49ers came into this game with similar numbers in terms of total offense and total defense, but a big reason why the Seahawks were 6-5 and the 49ers were 2-9 was the two teams’ turnover differential, with Seattle at plus-8 and San Francisco at minus-17.

On Sunday, the Seahawks won for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was their ability to dominate in that category again, finishing at plus-3 thanks to Wagner’s two takeaways, as well as one on special teams with Neiko Thorpe recovering a muffed punt.

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