SEATTLE – Earl Thomas was running off the sideline to congratulate Bryan Walters for a punt return, then down the sideline in step with bulldozing Marshawn Lynch.
Thomas wasn’t even in the game.
“We’re going out, having fun, trusting each other,” defensive mate Bobby Wagner said later. “I don’t think we can be beat when we trust each other, believe in each other. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
The Seahawks got back to their Super Bowl-winning foundation after halftime to blow past San Francisco after early troubles. Now the entire NFC is in within their grasp with a showdown with West leader Arizona next Sunday.
Seattle’s 90 yards rushing in the third quarter, including Lynch’s go-ahead score late in the period, and a return to thumping form by the NFL’s top-rated defense after halftime led the Seahawks to their fourth consecutive win, 17-7 on Sunday at poppin’ CenturyLink Field.
“I had a great time. I had a great, GREAT time,” Thomas said.
So did Lynch. He finished with 91 yards on 21 carries, once running through six 49ers to gain 8 yards. Russell Wilson survived getting sacked five more times and throwing an interception against a ferocious Niners pass rush to complete 12 of 24 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
The Seahawks (10-4) had six sacks of Colin Kaepernick to hold their bitter division rival to just one score – for the second time since Thanksgiving.
Seattle’s seventh win in eight games sets up an NFC West championship game next Sunday night at Arizona. The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 19-3 in Seattle last month.
It’s all out there for the Seahawks now. With Green Bay’s loss at Buffalo earlier Sunday, Seahawks wins next week at Arizona and in the regular-season finale against St. Louis Dec. 28 plus Green Bay winning at Tampa Bay and home against Detroit would give Seattle the top seed in the NFC playoffs next month.
The Seahawks could also get the top seed by winning their final two games and Dallas losing once, regardless of what the Packers do.
Sunday, the Seahawks had 47 yards rushing in the first two quarters. They had 90 in the third quarter, including 47 on the drive to Lynch’s go-ahead touchdown late in the period. They finished with 105 of their 152 yards rushing in the second half.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had a third-and-5 at the Niners 15, leading 10-7. Wilson got hit by Nick Moody’s facemask to chest just as he threw an incompletion. Moody was flagged for a bad call – roughing the passer. The Seahawks converted the gift into Paul Richardson’s first NFL touchdown, 10 yards down the middle for Wilson’s 12th touchdown pass this season.
Seattle led 17-7 instead of 13-7, and the NFC West championship next week in the desert was on.
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