Jacksonville scored 21 points in less than five minutes of the third quarter, but had to hang on to survive another fantastic fourth quarter by Russell Wilson.
After the Seahawks rallied from a 10-0 deficit to tie 10-10 in the third quarter, the Jaguars struck for two touchdowns and a field goal in less than five minutes and defeated Seattle 30-24 Sunday (box) in Jacksonville. The Seahawks fell to 8-5, but lost no ground in the playoff race because the NFC West-leading Rams (9-4) lost at home, 43-35, to Philadelphia.
If the Seahawks beat the Rams Sunday at the Clink, they will own the division lead on the tiebreaker by virtue of a sweep of the season series.
Atlanta is also 8-5 and defeated Seattle earlier this year and now holds the edge for the final NFC wild card slot. If the playoff started today, the Seahawks would not be among the postseason teams. But that means little since so much can change.
The Jaguars’ No.1-ranked defense had shut out the Seahawks into the the third quarter. Then the Jacksonville offense and special teams each made an explosive play: A 75-yard touchdown pass from QB Blake Bortles to WR Keelan Cole, followed by a 72-yard punt return by former University of Washington star Jaydon Mickens, setting up a one-yard TD run by RB Leonard Fournette.
QB Russell Wilson didn’t quite have enough to overcome the 27-10 deficit. For only the fourth time in his career, he tossed three interceptions. All figured prominently. He also tossed three touchdowns, including a 61-yarder to WR Paul Richardson an a 74-yarder to WR Tyler Lockett in the fourth quarter, but was denied on downs on Seattle’s final possession, thanks in part to a pair of pass interference episodes that went uncalled on Seattle’s final scrimmage play.
Wilson completed 17 of 31 passes for 271 yards — 76.9 passer rating — after accumulating only 36 throwing yards in the first half vs. 42 rushing yards. He had two interceptions before his first TD pass, a 26-yarder to Doug Baldwin in the third quarter. Wilson was well off the form that carried the Seahawks to a 24-10 win at home over the Eagles a week earlier.
Wilson’s three scores gave him 156 for his career, third-most in NFL history in the first six seasons.
Two were in the fourth quarter, giving him 17 in the final period this season, an NFL record. He had been tied with Eli Manning of the New York Giants with 15.
The Seahawks managed a rushing attack with RB Mike Davis going 15 times for 66 yards before leaving with sore ribs. He had 49 yards on the drive that tied the score at 10.
Baldwin had three catches for 78 yards, all after halftime, His TD was his fifth of the season.
Jimmy Graham entered the game needing two catches to set a franchise record for most career receptions by a Seattle tight end. But Graham, targeted twice, didn’t catch a pass and was charged with one drop, a miscue in the fourth quarter that took Seattle out of a game-tying opportunity.
PK Blair Walsh missed a 38-yard FG attempt just before halftime that would have tied the score at 3-3. Walsh has missed seven this season.
The Seahawks had two major penalties in the first half. RT Germain Ifedi was booked for sassing a referee and LG Luke Joeckel was nabbed for being downfield illegally. Both penalties blunted potential scoring drives, as did Wilson’s two first-half picks.
The Jaguars scored 27 of their 30 points after LB Bobby Wagner departed the proceedings with a hamstring injury. CB Byron Maxwell and FS Earl Thomas, both with nine, led the Seahawks in tackles.
Seattle did not record a sack, allowing Bortles to complete 18 of 27 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and no pick for a 123. 7 rating. Seattle rarely touched him.
Seattle lost its top two linebackers in the second half, K.J. Wright joining Wagner on the sidelines with a concussion . . . DLs Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson were thrown out of the game in the final minute for participating in fights. The melee could also result in DE Michael Bennett receiving a stiff fine . . . The Seahawks fell to 5-3 all-time vs. Jacksonville and to 35-12 in November/December . . . Seattle is 23-15-1 in its past 39 road games dating to 2013 . . . Wilson is 20-6 in regular-season games played in December/January.
The Seahawks return to CenturyLinik Field at 1:05 p.m. Sunday (FOX) for a rematch with the Rams. Seattle defeated Los Angeles 16-10 Oct. 8.