Wilson's big day leads Seahawks past San Francisco 43-16
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdowns on just four completions and finished with four TD passes. Bobby Wagner capped a blowout with a 98-yard interception return touchdown, and the Seattle Seahawks won their third straight by beating the San Francisco 49ers 43-16 on Sunday.
Seattle (7-5) stayed in the middle of the NFC playoff race by jumping to a 20-0 lead and cruising to its ninth straight victory over its NFC West foe. But it won't win the division because the Rams clinched it earlier in the day with a win at Detroit.
Wilson wasn't asked to do much in the first half, but the little he did found the end zone. He hit Jaron Brown on a 4-yard TD pass in the first quarter, found Tyler Lockett for a 52-yard score and connected with Doug Baldwin on a 1-yarder. According to Sportradar, Wilson throwing three touchdowns on four completions made for the fewest TDs/completions in a first half dating to 1991. The previous low was six.
Rashaad Penny added a 20-yard run on the first offensive play of the second half following an 84-yard kickoff return by Lockett for a 27-3 lead.
Most of the attention centered on Richard Sherman's first game back in Seattle after spending his first seven seasons with the Seahawks before being released and signing with the 49ers (2-10) last March. He greeted former teammates during pregame warmups — even giving a brief handshake and hug to Wilson — and then had a mostly uneventful return. Early in the third quarter Wilson hit Baldwin on a short route and Sherman's close friend shook off the tackle attempt and raced 21 yards for a first down.
Wilson finished 11 of 17 for 185 yards and has thrown at least two touchdowns in eight straight games. It was the eighth time in the regular season Wilson has thrown four or more TD passes. His last TD came on an 18-yard strike to Brown early in the fourth quarter after he broke free from Sherman's coverage.
Brown has 11 receptions on the season, five for touchdowns.
Wagner stole a fumble from Jeff Wilson Jr. at the Seattle 5 in the first half, one of two key fumbles by San Francisco. He then stepped in front of Nick Mullens' pass near the goal line and outran the rest of the 49ers for the longest interception return in team history.
Dante Pettis had two touchdown receptions , including a 75-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, for San Francisco. Mullens was 30 of 48 for 414 yards.
Seattle's wide receivers had plenty of chances to work on their touchdown celebrations.
The first after Brown's 4-yard catch in the first quarter was a nod to Sherman and Seahawks history. The group created a re-enactment of the famous tip play by Sherman in the 2013 NFC championship game against the 49ers. Late in the fourth quarter, Sherman tipped an end zone pass from Colin Kaepernick into the arms of Malcolm Smith for an interception that secured Seattle's berth in the Super Bowl.
Brown was the quarterback on the play 's re-enactment. Baldwin played the role of Sherman and David Moore was in the role of Smith, who is also playing for the 49ers.
They capped their day of celebrations with the "Macarena " following Brown's second TD.
Seattle may have suffered a significant loss when guard D.J. Fluker had to be helped to the sideline early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. Fluker has been a key part of Seattle's run-game resurgence and appeared very angry on the field about the injury. He did not return and left the field on a cart.
Seattle running back Chris Carson also left in the fourth quarter to have X-rays on a finger.
San Francisco starting RB Matt Breida played only sparingly. He had five carries and three receptions.