TORONTO – Bring on the 49ers? Bring on the 49ers!
The Seahawks set the stage for next week's nationally televised rematch with the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field with a convincing 50-17 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
This lopsided performance followed their 58-0 shutout of the Arizona Cardinals last week and an overtime win of the Bears in Chicago the week before that.
Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch added a fourth against his former team and free safety Earl Thomas returned an interception for a touchdown to spark the buffaloing of the Bills. Wilson also threw a TD pass.
Sunday's victory allowed the Seahawks to clear several hurdles. At 9-5, they have assured their first winning season since 2007. After the overtime win against the Bears 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. And, depending on how the 49ers do against the Patriots in New England tonight – adds even more significance to next Sunday night's nationally televised rematch with their division rivals at Century Link Field.
The Seahawks also finished 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 was in 2005 (5-3).
Wilson ran and passed the Seahawks to a 31-14 halftime lead, as they scored on their first five possessions – three of them runs by the Seahawks' rookie, who became the first QB in the past decade to run for three TDs in a game.
The Seahawks got the ball first as the Bills deferred after winning the coin toss and Wilson capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 14-yard TD run off a zone-read. Wilson was 4 of 4 on the drive for 53 yards, including a 17-yarder to Sidney Rice on third-and-17 and an 8-yarder to Zach Miller on third-and-7. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Wilson scored on a 25-yard run to cap a 5-play, 58-yard drive. Wilson ran twice for 42 yards. The Bills took the ensuing kickoff and drove 72 yards in eight plays to a 14-yard TD run by C.J. Spiller. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 4 of 4 for 45 yards.
On his second TD run, Wilson broke the franchise single-season record for rushing yards by a QB that was set in 1993 by Rick Mirer (343).
Steven Hauschka pushed the Seahawks' lead to 17-7 in the second quarter with a 19-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 65-yard drive that began on the final play of the first quarter. After another three-and-out for the Bills, Wilson passed 4 yards to Miller for a TD that made it 24-7. The big – and we mean big – play in the three-play, 58-yard drive was a 54-yard run by Marshawn Lynch.
On the drive to Hauschka's field goal, and on a first-and-10 from their 46-yard line, Wilson pitched the ball to Lynch, who lateraled the ball back to Wilson, who then threw a 44-yard completion to Golden Tate to the Bills' 10 to setup Hauschka's field goal.
Another three-and-out, and another TD run by Wilson – his third of the game – made it 31-7 with 5:31 left in the half. The big play in this five-play, 52-yard drive was Wilson's 41-yard pass to Sidney Rice.
But the Bills scored the last 10 points on a 20-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson and Rian Lindell's 41-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
The defense took over in the third quarter, as an interception by linebacker K.J. Wright setup a Marshawn Lynch 13-yard TD run and free safety Earl Thomas returned an interception 57 yards for a TD to run the score to 47-17.
Leo end Chris Clemons got his 10th and 11th sacks of the season in the quarter – matching his total from his first two seasons and making him the first Seahawk since Michael Sinclair (1996-98) to have double-digit sacks in three consecutive seasons.
Wright's interception came right after Stevie Johnson made a leaping, one-handed grab of a 25-yard pass to give the Bills a first down. Wright then picked Fitzpatrick and ran it back 24 yards to setup the TD by No. 24 – Lynch.
Hauschka added another field goal in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks drove 88 yards in 17 plays to consume more than nine minutes. Hauschka's kick made it 50-17, and the Seahawks' backups took over.
Up-back Michael Robinson turned in the play of the quarter by taking the ball on a fake punt and running 29 yards to the Bills' 14 to setup Hauschka's field goal.