The way the Seahawks started out Sunday, with Russell Wilson scrambling for two early — and easy — touchdowns, it looked like Seattle would put another epic beating on another hapless foe. That didn’t quite develop, but the Seahawks ran up a 31-7 lead and cruised to an historic 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills to solidify their grip on the top NFC wild card slot.
The victory moves Seattle, which scored on seven of its first eight drives, to 9-5 and second in the NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1), who beat the Patriots in New England, 41-34, Sunday night. The 49ers can clinch the NFC West by winning at Seattle or the following week at home against hapless Arizona.
The Seahawks are now in the the first wild-card position, fifth overall in the NFC, ahead of No. 6 Minnesota (8-6). The only way for Seattle to win the division is to win the last two and for the Niners to lose the last two.
If the playoffs were held today, in the wild-card the No. 5 Seahawks would travel to No. 4 Washington (8-6), leaders via tiebreaker in the NFC East.
“We did a great job today, it was really awesome for us,” said Wilson. “We played what I thought was our best game. What our defense did in the second half was fantastic (pitched a shutout). Now, we’ve just got to keep it going. We have a tough game (San Francisco) ahead of us. It’s going to be a huge game. We’re going to have our best week of practice and CenturyLink is going to be huge for us. We’re going to need our fans.”
By scoring 50 points against Buffalo one week after squashing Arizona with 58, the Seahawks became the first team since 1950 to tally 50 or more points in back-to-back weeks. That year, the Los Angeles Rams throttled the Baltimore Colts 70-27 and Detroit Lions 65-24 in Weeks 6-7, and the New York Giants beat the Chicago Cardinals 51-21 and the Colts 55-20 in Weeks 8-9.
The Seahawks, the second-highest scoring team in the NFL (behind New England) since Week 8 at 33.0 points per game, also produced a +91 scoring differential against Arizona (58-0) and Buffalo (108-17), second-highest in league history. The 1941 Chicago Bears had a +95-point differential (102-7) on the Cardinals (53-7) and Lions (49-0).
The Seahawks ran off 78 unanswered points against the Bears, Cardinals and Bills before Buffalo finally scored Sunday, and did so largely via the heroics of Wilson, who became the first quarterback in Seattle history to run for three touchdowns in a game (the first three of his NFL career), scoring on strolls of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He finished with 92 yards rushing, a franchise single-game record for a quarterback.
Wilson now has 402 rushing yards, a total that breaks the franchise, single-season record by a quarterback. Rick Mirer had 343 in 1993.
Wilson is the first NFL quarterback to rush for three TDs in a game since Daunte Culpepper of Minnesota against Chicago Sept. 3, 2000.
Wilson also completed 14 of 23 passes for 205 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 104.4, the fifth time in six weeks he has topped 100.0.
“He showed great poise out there,” said head coach Pete Carroll. “He’s got it nailed. I’m more excited about it (Wilson’s development) than surprised.”
“He put a heckuva game together,” said center Max Unger. “He also did a great job of running the ball.”
The game turned into such a blowout that Marshawn Lynch, the league’s second-leading rusher, barely played in the second half. But he still ran for 113 yards on 10 carries — a 11.3-yard average — in amassing his eighth 100-yard game of the season.
Winning for the fifth time in six games, the Seahawks didn’t score five different ways against the Bills as they did against the Cardinals, but they got a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by Earl Thomas and they set up three other scores with a fumble return by Bruce Irvin, a 30-yard run off a fake punt by fullback Michael Robinson, and a flea flicker involving Wilson, Lynch and Golden Tate.
Seattle also had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Leon Washington nullified with a penalty.
The Seahawks amassed 466 yards to Buffalo’s 333, forced three turnovers without committing one, and had three sacks, 2.5 by Chris Clemons.
After opening the game by suffering a seven-yard sack, Wilson went into high gear and directed a flawless, 10-play, 76-yard drive which he capped by running 14 yards for a touchdown — his first in the NFL — and a 7-0 Seattle lead off the read option. During the drive, Wilson had two key completions, a 17-yarder to Sidney Rice and another of 20 yards to Michael Robinson. Lynch ran for 15 yards during the drive.
On Seattle’s second drive, Wilson gained 19 yards going left on another read option, and then ran 25 yards for a touchdown for a 14-0 Seahawks lead. Wilson wanted to throw on the play, but when he couldn’t find a receiver he bolted from the pocket and romped into the end zone easily.
C.J. Spiller showed off the speed that Carroll feared on Buffalo’s subsequent drive, which ended with his 14-yard TD run that sliced Seattle’s lead to 14-7 and ended a streak of 78 unanswered Seahawks points. Spiller gained 27 yards on the drive.
The Seahawks extended their lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter on a 19-yard field goal by Steven Houschka, a tally set up when Wilson completed a flea-flicker pass of 44 yards to Tate that began with a handoff to Lynch, who passed back. The Seahawks missed on a touchdown when a Wilson completion to WR Sidney Rice came up a yard short.
A subsequent 54-yard run by Lynch set up the Seahawks on the Buffalo four-yard line, and on first down Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Zach Miller, his third of the season, for a 24-7 Seattle lead.
After Wilson and Rice hooked up on 41-yard play, Wilson ran 13 yards for his third touchdown, giving Seattle a 31-7 lead.
Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson collaborated on a 29-yard TD pass with 1:10 left in the half as the Bills cut the lead to 31-14, and then former Seahawk Rian Lindell kicked a 41-yard field goal just before halftime.
The Bills got nothing after that.
K.J. Wright had his first interception of the season on Buffalo’s first possession of the second half. His 24-yard return gave Seattle a first down on the Buffalo 20 and, after a seven-yard run by Wilson, Lynch ran 13 yards for his 10th TD of the season. Houschka had his PAT blocked, leaving Seattle with a 37-17 lead.
Clemons stripped Fitzpatrick (11th sack of year) and Irvin recovered, returning the fumble to the Buffalo 10-yard line. But Wilson overthrew a wide-open Robinson in the end zone and Doug Baldwin couldn’t hang on to a Wilson pass that would have been another touchdown. Houschka kicked the field goal for a 40-17 lead.
Two minutes later, Thomas picked off a Fitzpatrick pass, his third interception of the season, and returned it 57 yards to a touchdown and a 47-17 lead.
After Robinson ran 30 yards on the fake punt, Houshka drilled a 23-yard field goal, completing the scoring.
The San Francisco game, originally scheduled 1:25 p.m., was moved to 5:20 p.m. to accommodate a national telecast on NBC.
NOTES: After the game, Pete Carroll said he had no intention of running up the score on the Bills by faking a punt with a 30-point lead. “That’s my fault for not stopping it,” said Carroll, who was accused of running up the score last week against Arizona. “It was always in the game plan, but I should have called it off.”