SEATTLE (AP) — It was pointed out this week by San Francisco’s Richard Sherman that he was witness to watching Seattle’s Russell Wilson throw five interceptions in one game.
He didn’t see Wilson throw any interceptions on Sunday. Instead, he watched Wilson throw four touchdowns and the Seahawks stay in the middle of the NFC playoff race with a 43-16 blowout win over the 49ers.
Wilson tossed three first-half touchdowns on just four completions as the Seahawks (7-5) won their third straight game, jumping to a 20-0 lead and beating the 49ers for the ninth straight time.
“We didn’t throw it that much but we were able to make some huge plays when we did,” Wilson said.
Seattle won’t be NFC West champs after the Los Angeles Rams clinched the division on Sunday. But the Seahawks continue to make a case they will be part of the NFC playoff field. And Wilson continues to play with an efficiency that may be the best of his career.
Wilson wasn’t asked to do much in the first half, but the little he did found the end zone. He hit Jaron Brown on a 4-yard TD pass in the first quarter, found Tyler Lockett for a 52-yard score and connected with Doug Baldwin on a 1-yarder. According to Sportradar, Wilson throwing three touchdowns on four completions made for the fewest TDs/completions in a first half dating to 1991. The previous low was six.
Wilson finished 11 of 17 for 185 yards and has thrown at least two touchdowns in eight straight games. It was the eighth time in the regular season Wilson has thrown four or more TD passes. His last came on an 18-yard strike to Brown early in the fourth quarter after he broke free from Sherman’s coverage.
Wilson has 29 touchdown passes and five interceptions on the season. Rashaad Penny added a 20-yard run on the first offensive play of the second half following an 84-yard kickoff return by Lockett for a 27-3 lead.
“It’s phenomenal that he’s able to continue to execute those plays and the receivers are doing a fantastic job,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Bobby Wagner capped a blowout with a 98-yard interception return touchdown, the first of his career and the longest in franchise history. It was a big day for Seattle’s defensive leader, including a forced fumble and recovery in the first half ripping the ball away from San Francisco running back Jeff Wilson Jr. at the Seattle 5. He then stepped in front of Nick Mullens’ pass near the goal line and outran the rest of the 49ers for the longest interception return in team history.
Most of the attention centered on Sherman’s first game back in Seattle after spending seven seasons with the Seahawks before being released and signing with the 49ers (2-10) last March. He greeted former teammates during pregame warmups — even giving a brief handshake and hug to Wilson — and then had a mostly uneventful return. Early in the third quarter Wilson hit Baldwin on a short route and Sherman’s close friend shook off the tackle attempt and raced 21 yards for a first down.
Sherman downplayed his return. He spent several minutes on the field postgame exchanging jerseys with Baldwin.
“I’m a ballplayer and at the end of the day the field is the same length and everything else is the same,” Sherman said. “You just go out there and play your game and try to give your team the best chance to win, and unfortunately we didn’t get the win today.”
Dante Pettis had two touchdown receptions , including a 75-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, for San Francisco. Mullens was 30 of 48 for 414 yards.
Seattle’s wide receivers had plenty of chances to work on their touchdown celebrations.
The first after Brown’s 4-yard catch in the first quarter was a nod to Sherman and Seahawks history. The group created a re-enactment of the famous tip play by Sherman in the 2013 NFC championship game against the 49ers. Late in the fourth quarter, Sherman tipped an end zone pass from Colin Kaepernick into the arms of Malcolm Smith for an interception that secured Seattle’s berth in the Super Bowl.
Brown was the quarterback on the play ‘s re-enactment. Baldwin played the role of Sherman and David Moore was in the role of Smith, who is also playing for the 49ers.
“We thought it’d be nice to give him a tribute if we had the opportunity to do so. I know it’s kind of weird. We’re scoring. He’s on the other team. We’re doing a tribute, but that was in our hearts this week,” Baldwin said.
They capped their day of celebrations with the “Macarena ” following Brown’s second TD.
Seattle may have suffered a significant loss when guard D.J. Fluker had to be helped to the sideline early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. Carroll said it was a significant pull. Fluker has been a key part of Seattle’s run-game resurgence and appeared very angry on the field about the injury. He did not return and left the field on a cart.
Seattle running back Chris Carson suffered a dislocated finger in the fourth quarter but wasn’t deemed significant.
San Francisco starting RB Matt Breida played only sparingly. He had five carries and three receptions.
49ers: San Francisco returns home to host Denver next Sunday.
Seahawks: Seattle hosts Minnesota next Monday night.
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