December 18, 2011 in Sports

Seahawks pound Bears for third straight win

Danny O'Neil Seattle Times
 

CHICAGO — Red Bryant ran away from the Bears after his third-quarter interception.

The same could be said for the rest of the Seahawks, who scored 31 consecutive points in the second half, coming back to beat the Bears 38-14 on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field in a game that not only sustained, but improved Seattle’s playoff chances.

Bryant picked off the first pass of the second half from Chicago’s Caleb Hanie after it was tipped by linebacker K.J. Wright. Bryant returned it 20 yards for the first touchdown of his career. It was Seattle’s second touchdown in the span of 50 seconds in the third quarter to begin a second-half turnaround that never slowed down for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks’ defense intercepted three passes in the second half, and four in the game. Two of those interceptions resulted in touchdowns, the first by Bryant and then by cornerback Brandon Browner. Lynch finished the game with two touchdowns, fullback Michael Robinson scored on a 2-yard pass in a second half so lopsided it was hard to remember how bad the Seahawks looked at times in the first half.

Seattle trailed 14-7 at halftime before the Seahawks scored 24 consecutive points in the first 18 minutes of the second half, dragging the Bears to the woodshed for an abject beating.

Seattle entered Sunday’s game trailing the Bears by one game in the playoff pecking order. The Seahawks (7-7) are now at .500 for the first time in more than a year, have won three in a row for the first time since 2007, and they’re alive for at least one more week in the chase to earn one of the NFC’s two wild-card playoff berths.

That was hard to foresee in a first half in which quarterback Tarvaris Jackson passed for 51 yards and Seattle’s only touchdown was set up by a Bears’ turnover when safety Kam Chancellor forced a fumble from Johnny Knox and Earl Thomas recovered at the Chicago 22. Even then, the Seahawks needed a penalty against Chicago on a field-goal attempt to give Seattle a second chance at first-and-goal.

The Seahawks made the most of that. Lynch scored on a 2-yard run on first down and Seattle led 7-0 with 8:41 left in the first quarter.

Seattle didn’t score again in the first half. The Bears tied the score when Julius Peppers’ forced Jackson to fumble in the end zone, the ball recovered by Israel Idonije. It was the first fumble recovered for a touchdown against Seattle this year.

The Bears took the lead on a Kahlil Bell’s 25-yard touchdown catch with 1:51 left in the first half. That capped a 10 play, 57-yard drive, the Bears’ longest possession of the first half. The Seahawks offense gained 84 yards in the first half. They gained 80 yards on the first possession of the second quarter.

Jackson — who was 4-for-12 passing in the first half — completed three passes for 77 yards on Seattle’s first drive of the second half, the Seahawks tied the score on Lynch’s second touchdown run. Lynch finished with 42 yards rushing, failing to reach 100 yards for only the second time in his last seven games. But he now has 1,011 yards rushing on the season, the first Seahawk to surpass 1,000 yards in a season since Shaun Alexander in 2005.

Lynch has also scored at least once in each of his last 10 games, a franchise record. The Seahawks scored 30 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time since November 2003.

Seattle’s final touchdown was scored by its defense as Browner returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. That was Browner’s fifth interception in the past four games as he became the first Seahawk since Eugene Robinson in 1991 to intercept at least one pass in four consecutive games. It was Browner’s second touchdown this season, and he set a new franchise record for return yards in a season with 219.


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