Russell Wilson

Pro Bowl: Perhaps Russell Wilson shouldn’t have been just an “alternate”

usatsi_12065691.jpg
usa today img.

Pro Bowl: Perhaps Russell Wilson shouldn’t have been just an “alternate”

It was all laughs and sunshine during the week of the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Then, Mother Nature took a turn on Sunday as the rain came pouring down on the NFL’s best of the best. It is a week not to be taken too seriously. You saw Jalen Ramsey the wide receiver, Mike Evans the defensive back, and Saquon Barkley the pass rusher as the AFC won its third straight Pro Bowl defeating the NFC 26-7 in Camping World Stadium.  

After a 10-6 “surprise” season in which many called a rebuilding season, the Seattle Seahawks were represented at the Pro Bowl on all sides of the ball: quarterback Russell Wilson (appearing in his sixth Pro Bowl), linebacker Bobby Wagner (fifth Pro Bowl) and rookie punter Michael Dickson (making his Pro Bowl debut).

The season was statistically one of Wilson’s best seasons in a Seahawks uniform: a career-high touchdowns (35) as well as a career low interceptions (7), and carried his team to round two of the NFL playoffs. But despite what he did this season, Wilson was just a replacement for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the Pro Bowl who was unable to participate due to injury.

Wilson finished the Pro Bowl five-for-eight for 68 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. During the week leading up to the game, Wilson and Minnesota receiver Adam Thielen won the Good Hands competition as well as Wilson winning the Precision Passing award.

Arguably the best linebacker in the league, Bobby Wagner is coming off a season with 84 tackles, two forced fumbles, one sack, and one pick-six. He finished with five tackles, three solo at the Pro Bowl.

Michael Dickson had four kicks for 173 yards, averaging 43.3 yards per kick. His longest was 52 yards. 

Batter up: Russell Wilson will return to Yankees spring training

usatsi_10668836.jpg
USA Today Images

Batter up: Russell Wilson will return to Yankees spring training

It’s time for Russell Wilson to dust off those baseball cleats: the Seattle Seahawks quarterback is stealing second base again.

Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told the MLB Network Radio this week that the Super Bowl champion quarterback will report to spring training for the second-straight year in a New York Yankees uniform.

Russell Wilson plays…baseball?

Prior to being selected by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson played second base at North Carolina State before being drafted by the Colorado Rockies, where he spent two seasons.

From 2010-11, Wilson logged 379 total plate appearances in the Class A Advanced level, logging a .229 average, five home runs, and 19 stolen bases, according to MLB.com.

He was acquired from the Rockies by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, and traded to the New York in 2018, where he finally fulfilled his dream of wearing a Yankees uniform.

During his first spring training at-bat, Wilson struck out on a left-hander from Braves pitcher Max Fried.

Staying connected to baseball

While Wilson has become a star on the gridiron, he has stayed involved with the baseball community. Recently, he became an investor in the Portland Diamond Project, a group committed to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to the Rose City. 

The project settled on the Terminal 2 site as the future home for Major League Baseball in Portland last month, but the movement is still stuck on first base.

The group will need to lure a franchise to the City of Roses or Major League Baseball will need to grant the city an expansion team in order for Portland to join the 32-team league.

Russell Wilson replaces Aaron Rodgers on NFC Pro Bowl team

russelwilson_probowlbound.png
NBC Sports Northwest

Russell Wilson replaces Aaron Rodgers on NFC Pro Bowl team

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson will make his sixth Pro Bowl appearance as a replacement for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will not play due to injury.

Rodgers and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff were named to the team with Wilson being left out despite having arguably his best statistical season. 

Wilson, while leading Seattle to a 10-6 record, had career-highs in touchdown passes (35), touchdown percentage (8.2) and passer rating (110.9). He also set a career-low in interceptions (seven). His completion percentage of 65.6 was the second highest of his career. 

The Pro Bowl will be held Jan. 27 at noon at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

Wilson will join punter Michael Dickson and linebacker Bobby Wagner on the NFC team.

The Seahawks have six other players listed as alternates: Running back Chris Carson, return specialist Tyler Lockett, defensive end Frank Clark, guard J.R. Sweezy and safety Bradley McDougald.

Has K.J. Wright played his final game with the Seattle Seahawks?

usatsi_11949101.jpg
USA Today

Has K.J. Wright played his final game with the Seattle Seahawks?

Seattle's loss at Dallas on Saturday night in the NFL Playoffs might have been linebacker K.J. Wright's swan song with the Seahawks. 

Wright made a huge play in the game when he intercepted a pass in the end zone during the fourth quarter with Seattle trailing 17-14. He committed a costly penalty when he got flagged for pass interference on third down during Dallas' final scoring drive that gave the Cowboys a 24-14 lead late in the game. Seattle lost 24-22. 

“It was a tough game," Wright said in the visitor's locker room later. "We knew it was going to be a battle... It is a learning lesson for us. We just have to bounce back."

The question is if the "we," he speaks of includes Wright moving forward. 

Wright, 29, just completed a four-year, $27 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The 2016 Pro Bowler is coming off of an injury-riddled season in which he appeared in just five regular season games because of a recurring knee injury after having missed just five games during his first seven seasons. Drafted by Seattle in 2011, Wright performed well when able to play this season. His abilities are not an issue. The question is whether Seattle wants to reinvest in him moving forward?

Wright's expressed desires leave no room for ambiguity. 

"I head into free agency and we'll see how that goes," Wright said. "Like I've said, I want to be here. I love playing with this team...And I believe that it would be in the team's best interest if I stay here."

The franchise, Wright said, has given him no indication as to if he potentially has a future with the Seahawks. 

"I want to be here but there's decisions to make and they have to do what's best for their team," Wright said. 

Seattle coach Pete Carroll was asked on Monday about Wright's future. 

“We’d love to have K.J. back with us," he said. "That’s one of the many issues.”

Juxtapose that response to the one Carroll gave when asked about the future of wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who also had an injury-filled season. 

“Yeah, I’m planning on (Baldwin) being right with us,” Carroll told reporters.

Granted, the two situations are not exactly equal. Baldwin has one year remaining on his contract worth $10.25 million of non-guaranteed money while Wright is a free agent who could choose to sign elsewhere. Still, Seattle could release Baldwin and save the $10.25 million on the 2019 cap just like the team did last year when it let go of cornerback Richard Sherman. 

While this is clearly an attempt to read into one man's words, the bottom line is that it doesn't appear that Wright is at the top of the team's lists of offseason concerns. 

Carroll did say that having Wright return to action late in the season helped the defense. 

"He’s such a great player and a great leader and mentality," Carroll said. "He gives other people strength just being around him and he’s unbelievably valuable."

But will that make him worth a new contract?

Seattle has limited options on the roster to replace Wright. Rookies Jacob Martin and Shaquem Griffin had moments but neither appears ready to start next season. Seattle would likely have to draft a linebacker or sign one in free agency. There is always the chance the Mychal Kendricks could return if he avoids going to prison after pleading guilty to inside trading. He faces up to three years. 

Losing Wright would certainly impact the locker room. 

“KJ has been unbelievable for us. I remember coming here in 2012 and seeing this tall, long, athletic linebacker that could make all the plays," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "I was like dang they make linebackers like this? I thought he was a defensive end. He’s been tremendous for us just how many plays he’s made and how many great things he’s done. He’s battled all season through injury. To be able to show up tonight once again and play great football. Him and Bobby [Wagner] are as good as it gets. They are the best tandem in football at the linebacker position. Those guys are special. Hopefully, we can find a way to keep KJ.”

Baldwin called Wright a "rock." 

"He’s been one of those pillars you look towards in the locker room," Baldwin said. "I knew exactly what he stands for. I knew exactly what he was going to bring to the table both on and off the field. It’s a testament to the man he is, first and foremost. He’s been that for all of us. For myself, Bobby has leaned on him so many times. Now the young guys get to experience that. They get the joy of a leader like that in their corner this year. It’s going to be an amazing thing. Hopefully he gets to stay with us.”

Probably nobody on the team would miss Wright more than middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. The two are the lone remaining defensive starters from the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowl teams. Wagner said the way Wright fought throw his injuries to work his way back and play the way he did on Saturday was special to behold. 

"It was a amazing," Wagner said. "Probably had a lot of guys counting him out, didn't think he was going to be good, or whatever the case may be. But you come and see when healthy how amazing of a player he is... It's amazing to have him on the field. It's amazing to see how great of player he is and see how even better of a person that he is. It's a person you definitely want to have in the building."

Wagner said he plans to keep a close eye on Wright's situation this offseason. 

"I'm pretty sure he is going to tell me everything that is going on," Wagner said. "I'll pay attention to it. He's my brother. I hope everything works out but I understand that it's a business, so I don't know what's going to happen."

Carroll likely has an idea what is going to happen. Certainly there are legitimate reasons to move on from Wright. He will be 30. He just made $7.2 million. Would he accept a pay cut to stay? Could he get a stronger offer on the open market than what Seattle would pay him? Would Seattle be better of using that money elsewhere? Also, he's coming off of a knee injury that cost him 11 games. 

But there are also many reasons to keep him around if the price is right. He can still play. He is a leader. And, will Seattle really find someone better for 2019? 

"He’s been a fantastic player for us for years in every way," Carroll said. "In every way he’s been a leader, he’s been tough, he’s been here, he’s been consistent. His messaging, everything he stands for is what we love about him and we’d love for him to be here throughout.”

We shall see just how deeply that love for Wright actually runs. 

Report Card: Grading the Seattle Seahawks' playoff loss at the Dallas Cowboys

reportcard112618_1920x1080.jpg
NBCS NW

Report Card: Grading the Seattle Seahawks' playoff loss at the Dallas Cowboys

Seattle's season ended with a thud Saturday night when the Seahawks lost 24-22 at Dallas in the NFC Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. 

The game featured numerous key moments that contributed to the team's loss but there were several uncharacteristic performances that hurt Seattle's chance of winning. Here is a report card of the Seahawks' performance:

Offensive line: D

They say strong running games travel well in the NFL playoffs. If that's the case, Seattle simply didn't bother to pack theirs and the offensive line failed to get the job done on Saturday.  

That's a shame given how far this group had come this season and how it helped the Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing.
Seattle rushed for 73 yards on 24 carries with the running backs gaining 59 on 21.

That overall production was well below the team's 160 average and short of the 113 the Seahawks gained on Dallas in Week 3.

Saturday's poor rushing performance greatly contributed to the team converting on just 2-of-13 third-down attempts. 

Left tackle Duane Brown said Seattle knew that Dallas would do a lot of stunts in order to throw Seattle's linemen off of their blocking targets, and it worked.

"They were very good at it and we just weren't efficient in adjusting to it," Brown said. "Nothing that surprised us. They'd been doing it all year."

Brown added that Seattle didn't live up to its billing as a power running team. 

"I take my hat off to their defense," Brown said. "They played a very good game. But us up front, we created an identity of being a physical team and running the football and we weren't able to do that today."

 

Front seven: C-

Let's lump both the defensive line and the linebackers into this one.

Seattle had to control Dallas' "triplets" of QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Amari Cooper. The Seahawks failed. 

Elliott rushed for 137 yards and one touchdown, Prescott passed for 226 yards, threw for one touchdown, rushed for 29 yards and a rushing touchdown, and Cooper had 106 yards on seven receptions. 

The 29 rushing yards for Prescott might not seem like a lot but 14 of those yards ultimately decided the game.

With Dallas leading 17-14 and just over two minutes remaining in the game, the Cowboys faced a third down and 14 at the Seattle 17-yard line. As if the Cowboys had planned to kick a field goal, they ran a quarterback draw. But Prescott managed to gain 16 yards on the play to set up his one-yard scoring run that gave Dallas a 24-14 lead that Seattle did not have time to overcome. 

That play alone warranted a poor grade for Seattle's front seven, which registered just two tackles for loss and one sack on the night. Still, the group did not play awful football given that it kept the team in the game despite the poor play by Seattle's offense. 

Nevertheless, allowing Elliott to have a big game helped Dallas win the field position battle. 

“It’s bad. It’s so simple too," said Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright, who had a key interception in the fourth quarter. "I hate that we can’t watch the film and come back next week. It is just something that is easy. And you just have to pick up those easy plays in order to win these football games.”

 

Wide receivers: B

Where would Seattle have been without wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who caught four passes for 120 yards, 40.1 percent of the team's total output of 299?

The problem was that Seattle probably didn't turn to the passing game often enough, which limited Lockett's potential impact and certainly contributed to Doug Baldwin having just 33 yards.

When Seattle struggled rushing the football in a game this season at Carolina, a team with a top-10 rushing defense like Dallas', the Seahawks put the game in quarterback Russell Wilson's hands and he threw for a season-high 339 yards in a 30-27 win. Wilson passed for 233 at Dallas. 

Granted, Seattle began with minus 15 yards passing in the first half thanks to a screen pass that lost eight and a sack. But, after that, Seattle got the passing game rolling but still remained committed to the run game. 

One caveat to all of this is that the team mostly threw on third downs and converted on just 2-of-13 attempts. 

But one wonders what might have happened had Seattle allowed Wilson and his receivers to go gangbusters in this game. 

 

Seattle Seahawks leave Dallas 'sad,' 'confused,' and 'frustrated' but also optimistic

Seattle Seahawks leave Dallas 'sad,' 'confused,' and 'frustrated' but also optimistic

ARLINGTON, Texas - Sad. Confused. Frustrated. 

That's how Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin described his emotions Saturday night following the Seahawks' 24-22 loss to Dallas in a wild card playoff game played in front of 92,851 at AT&T Stadium. 

The Seahawks (10-7) were the slight underdog. They were on the road. They weren't supposed to be in the playoffs this season to begin with. Yet, the belief inside a somber Seattle locker room following the game was that the better team didn't show up and allowed the lesser team to prematurely end the Seahawks' season.  

"Anytime you go to the playoffs, your mindset...is four more games," Baldwin said. "Four more games. And you never think it's going to end. You don't have that mindset. You believe with every ounce of your being that you are going to become victorious no matter what the obstacle is placed in front of you. And when you don't, you don't expect that. So, it being fresh, I'm still mourning it. Still disbelief in some ways."

Plenty occurred in this game to disbelieve from Seattle's perspective.

  • Seattle led the NFL in rushing with 260 yards per game. Tonight, the Seahawks managed just 74. 
  • Seattle converted on 38.9 percent of third downs during the season, it converted on just 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) tonight. 
  • The Seahawks limited their penalties for much of the season and committed just one through three quarters tonight. But four huge penalties in the fourth quarter (holding, personal four and two pass interference calls) dramatically hindered their chances of winning. 
  • Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson seemingly had the clear edge over his the younger and more inexperienced counterpart, Dak Prescott. Yet it was Prescott who made more big plays in this one and made the arguably the biggest play of the night to ice the game late. 

Yet, despite all of its misfortunes, Seattle had a chance to win up until the very end. So what do we make of it all?

Was Seattle simply not that good to begin with and lucky to even be in the playoffs. Or, is this a young team on the rise that will use this defeat as fuel for a deeper run next season? The bulk of the evidence suggests the latter and that's what this team will take with it into the offseason. 

"Look out! This team, we've got everything that we need," Baldwin said about the Seahawks' future. "We've got all the pieces. We've got the right mindsets. The personalities. Everything. It's just, we're a young team. And with the time comes progression, comes growth, comes learning."

Seattle tight end Ed Dickson, who won a Super Bowl title with Baltimore, said he sees championship traits in this group but also said he recognizes the areas where the team needs to mature and improve. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson this season has repeatedly compared this year's team to the 2012 Seahawks that went 11-5 his rookie year and then the following season won the Super Bowl. He reiterated that belief tonight. 

"If precedence has any truth to it hopefully we will find a way to do something good like that," Wilson said. 

The makeup of these Seahawks is one that thrives under adversity so much that it's almost as if they seek it out. How else does one explain how they routinely transform seemingly unwinnable situations into winnable possibilities then cash in? Tonight they faced about as much adversity as they have all season but were unable to seize big moments when they presented themselves. 

Left tackle Duane Brown credited Dallas for how its front seven played while stuffing Seattle's running game. However, he also pointed to the hostile crowd and environment as being nothing that this team had ever experienced before on the road. That, he said, might have led to a horrific start in which Seattle finished the first quarter with five total yards and minus 15 yards passing. The latter didn't seem possible with Wilson at quarterback but the lack of a strong running game put the passing game in unenviable situations against a fierce Dallas defense. 

"We weren't able to run it the way we wanted to tonight," Wilson said. "It was unfortunate."

It was everything. Seattle's entire existence is built on running the football. No run usually equals no win. But when the running is struggling, the best way to get it going is to keep running it and that requires having the ball and that requires converting on third down. 

"The crux of the matter was third down," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "you don't get the third down conversion you get your next shot to call all your stuff. The game plan gets left in the bag a little bit. So, that's just how it always had gone."

Give Seattle's defense some credit. Despite the offense's struggles, Seattle's defense kept the Seahawks' in the game and they led 6-3 late in the second quarter and 14-10 in the third quarter after a four-yard Wilson touchdown run. 

Seattle trailed 17-14 in the fourth quarter and that's when the penalties kicked in. The most costly were two pass interference penalties on third down as Dallas worked to eat the clock. Even with those penalties, Seattle had Dallas sitting on a third down with 14 yards to go from the Seattle 17.

All Seattle had to do was stop the Cowboys on third down, hold them to a field goal then, while trailing 20-14, watch Wilson lead the team down the field to win the game 21-20. It's not like similar scenarios haven't played out many times before. 

Instead, Prescott ran an unexpected quarterback draw play that middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said caught the Seattle defense off guard and darted and juked his way to a first down at the Seattle one. On the next play he scored from one yard out with 2:14 remaining in the game. 

Even then this team didn't quit. Wilson threw a touchdown pass, then Seattle added a two-point conversion and just like that the game was 24-22 with 1:22 remaining. 

That resiliency is what Seattle coach Pete Carroll said makes this team special.

"They never think they're out," he said. "They don't believe that they're out of anything. They're going to keep coming back and fighting and clawing and scratching and figure out a way. And when you believe like that, you're belief is that strong that you're going to create something, things happen."

On this night, Seattle failed to make that one thing happen in order to win the game. An onside kick attempt failed miserably, Seattle had no more timeouts remaining and Dallas ran out the clock to end the game and the Seahawks' season. 

Soon, reflection began. 

Baldwin spoke to the team in the locker room and urged this young team to cherish this as a learning moment and commit to get better.

"When you're in these moments it's kind of hard to cherish them because you're focused on the task at hand....You don't want to miss those moments because you can get better in those moments," Baldwin said. 

Wilson said he expects this team to do just that.

"I think if we can eliminate some of the little mistakes here and there," Wilson said, "I think there's nowhere we can't go." 

Seattle Seahawks take emphasis on ball security to rare heights

usatsi_11894840.jpg
USA Today

Seattle Seahawks take emphasis on ball security to rare heights

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has made two of the worst reads and throws of his career in the same season. They came on interceptions he threw for touchdowns in a loss at Chicago and in a defeat at home to the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Prior to those events, Wilson had thrown just one pick-six in his career. 

What's interesting, though, is that those two plays occurred in the same season where Seattle has a chance to match history. The Seahawks (9-6) are currently tied for the fewest committed turnovers committed in a season at 10 with the 2011 San Francisco 49ers and the 2010 New England Patriots. Wilson has thrown a career-low six interceptions and the team has lost only four fumbles. 

“I haven’t been made aware of that particular stat, but I do know that we’re doing a really good job of protecting the football and also making a lot of plays while doing that," Wilson told reporters on Thursday. "Guys are making touchdown catches all over the field, guys are running the ball really well as well. I think to play winning football, you’ve got to be able to execute with a football. It’s all about the ball as coach says, every day matters."

Seattle hosts Arizona (4-11) on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. 

[ALSO READ: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals: Everything you need to know]

Seattle has fumbled the ball four times after receptions but has lost none of them. Running back Chris Carson and Wilson have each fumbled the ball three times. Wilson didn't lose any of his three while Carson lost two on 228 carries.

For Pete Carroll, given how the Seahawks want to play football - run it, control it, protect it - not turning over the ball is essential. This is not a team built to win shootouts. 

“Emphasis. Emphasis in every way, forever. Every turn, every step, every day, April, May – it doesn’t matter when," Carroll told reporters this week. "It’s the number one thing that we emphasize and we’ve been doing that for a long time and what our challenge is, is how well can we emphasize it and how well can we transfer that emphasis so that they engage it and adopt that as part of their play? The mentality of it, they’re a constant that just goes away if you don’t. I mean, you just have to be on it because there are unnatural aspects of it when you play with the things that you have to do so you just have to train and drill with the highest of expectations to get it done.”

The trick, of course, is taking care of the ball while still being able to make winning plays. 

“I think that it is a skill," Wilson said. "I think that is a skill to not give the ball away. I think how you prepare, the fundamental side of it. Our running backs do a great job. Chris Carson, Mike Davis, (Rashaad) Penny, J.D. (McKissic), those guys do a great job of holding the ball high and tight. That’s a skill, that’s a focused thing that you practice, and you prepare for."

Wilson, save for this three thrown pick-sixes, has been a master at taking care of the ball in the passing game. He has thrown just 62 interceptions during his career to go along with 195 touchdown passes. 

"I think also too in terms of the throwing game, we’ve been protecting it pretty well for a while and I think that’s because the receivers going up and getting it, making plays and trying to be as smart as we can with the football," Wilson said. "I think that’s an intentionality and being intentional with it and practicing it that way.”

Seattle is one turnover free game away from joining an elite group. 

Seattle Seahawks get physical with the Kansas City Chiefs, clinch playoff berth

Seattle Seahawks get physical with the Kansas City Chiefs, clinch playoff berth

SEATTLE - The Seattle Seahawks used their power run game and a solid defensive effort against the NFL's top offense to win 38-31 over Kansas City Sunday night at CenturyLink Field and in the process clinch a wild card playoff berth with one game remaining. 

Seattle rushed for 210 yards and contained Kansas City's dynamo quarterback Patrick Mahomes II just enough to remain the current No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. If the postseason started next week, the Seahawks would play at NFC East champion Dallas (9-6). Seattle (9-6) can hold on to its current seeding with a win next week at home over Arizona (3-12) or with a loss by Minnesota (8-6-1) at home to Chicago (11-4). If Seattle were to lose to the Cardinals following a Vikings win over the Bears in the morning, then the Seahawks would fall to the No. 6 seed and be forced to play at the Bears on wild card weekend. 

Seattle will be returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Seahawks finished 9-7 last season to just barely miss earning a playoff berth after losing at home to Arizona in the final game of the year. 

Many didn't believe that Seattle, owners of one of the worst running games in the NFL last season, had enough talent to return to the postseason in 2018. But the Seahawks made changes to the offensive line, hired line coach Mike Solari and made a dramatic turnaround to lead the league in rushing this season. For Seattle coach Pete Carroll, this will be his seventh trip to the playoffs in nine seasons with the Seahawks. 

“It feels great," he said. "There’s an emotion to it that’s deep and it’s because there weren't very many people that thought we could do this.  Most everybody thought we didn’t have a chance.  To hang together, hang through it, we got it done before the season’s over.  I wish we would have nailed it last week, too, to keep this feeling that’s going on the last 6 or 7 weeks or whatever, I don’t know how many weeks it’s been, but we’ve been riding it.  It’s a magnificent feeling that gives us the confidence that we can go anywhere and play anybody.  We’re ready to roll.”

[ALSO READ: Seahawks' WR Doug Baldwin overcomes season of "hell" to shine against the Chiefs]

Even when the team started 0-2 or sat at 4-5, quarterback Russell Wilson never wavered on his belief that this team was close to turning the corner. Since losing 36-31 at the Los Angeles Rams to fall to 4-5, Seattle has gone 5-1 to reach this point. 

"This year was special just because I think we really came together," Wilson said. "I was talking to some of the guys last night and saying that one of my favorite parts about this season has been watching guys celebrate with one another."

Sunday's victory was by far the most impressive of the season for the Seahawks given the opponent. Kansas City (11-4) still has a chance to clinch home field advantage in the AFC playoffs making them a legitimate Super Bowl contender. 

“I feel like a win like this, it’s just another win but at the end of the day, I feel like it was a win we needed," defensive end Frank Clark said. "Whether it was the Chiefs or anybody else who was coming in here, we wanted to win the game and we knew we were going to win the game, period."

Linebacker K.J. Wright, playing in his fourth game of the season after missing 11 with a knee injury, said the team's leaders helped shape this team into a contender. 

"I’m really proud of this team, this feels really good," he said. "Make it to the playoffs and we are just getting started, we got a lot more work to do. This is just the beginning...We have all the tools. Great running game. Russell (Wilson) is still leading the way. Doug (Baldwin) is shining. This defense is outstanding. Creating turnovers. That’s what it takes, that’s the winning formula. Run the ball, play good defense.”

Getting into the postseason is one thing, advancing far is another. Seattle is 3-2 at home this season against playoff teams, defeating the Chiefs, Dallas and Minnesota and losing to the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers. On the flip side, Seattle is 0-2 on the road against playoff teams, losing at the Rams and at the Bears. 

In order for Seattle to advance to the Super Bowl with the current playoff seedings it would most likely have to win three road playoff games. First, Seattle would play at Dallas and then at New Orleans (13-2), the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Should the Seahawks pull off an upset at the Saints, then Seattle would likely have to play next at either the Rams or the Bears in the NFC title game.

There is a scenario where Seattle could host the NFC title game. For that to happen, the Vikings must defeat the Bears in the wild card round to create a reseeding that would send Minnesota to New Orleans and Seattle to the Rams in the divisional round. If the Vikings won at the Saints and Seattle won in Los Angeles, then the Seahawks would host the Vikings in the NFC title game.

There's a lot of "ifs" in play but right now but the fact that matters most is that Seattle's postseason drought ended at one season. 

Seattle Seahawks' WR Doug Baldwin overcomes season of "hell" to shine against the Kansas City Chiefs

usatsi_11894924.jpg
USA Today

Seattle Seahawks' WR Doug Baldwin overcomes season of "hell" to shine against the Kansas City Chiefs

SEATTLE - Seattle Seahawks (9-6) wide receiver Doug Baldwin neared the end of his postgame press conference following a 38-31 victory over Kansas City (11-4) at CenturyLink Field Sunday night in which he put forth his best performance of the season to help the Seahawks clinch a wild card playoff berth when the final question came regarding what this injury-filled season has been like for him. 

Baldwin's response revealed a man who has fought through pain and frustration, to be there as much as possible for his teammates during what has been one of the least productive seasons of his eight-year career. 

"Ha. This year has been hell," Baldwin said. "This year has been absolutely hell. I've been...oh my goodness. We don't have enough time for that. It's been hell. But I'm so grateful to be healthy enough to be on the field with my teammates to celebrate victories and just enjoying playing football again, just like a kid."

On Sunday night with a nation of NFL fans watching, Baldwin rediscovered that magic that made him a two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the Seahawks. He tied a season high with seven receptions for a season-high 126 yards and a touchdown. His yardage output amounted to 21.3 percent of his season total of 591 yards, which is the second lowest of his career with one game remaining next Sunday at home against Arizona (3-12).

Because of various injuries - mostly a knee injury that caused him to miss virtually all of training camp - Baldwin has missed three games and never has been 100 percent in the games in which he has played. However, over the last six weeks with Seattle making a playoff push, Baldwin has stepped up his game with 25 receptions for 316 yards and all five of his touchdown receptions on the season coming in five appearances (he missed the team's Monday night win over Minnesota on Dec. 10). The Seahawks (9-6) are 5-1 during that stretch after starting the season 4-5. 

With Baldwin seemingly back to top form, Seattle's offense has perfect balance with the league's top rushing attack, which amassed 210 yards on the ground in Sunday's win. 

"Obviously, Doug was great tonight, as always," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. 

The clear path to victory for Seattle Sunday night involved getting mean and nasty. Be physical. Force the issue. Issue the force. Bring Kansas City's finesse approach to offensive football to its knees while pounding that paper mache defense to a pulp.

Seattle did plenty of both but Kansas City superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is no joke. He nearly single-handedly took down the Seahawks with 273 yards passing and three touchdowns. In the end, simply running the ball well on Kansas City wasn't going to do the trick. The Seahawks needed to make plays in the passing game. They needed Baldwin to be Baldwin. 

For all that Baldwin did well on this night, his performance can best be summed up by two plays. In the third quarter, he made a leaping, twisting grab while landing on the front pylon of the left side of the end zone for a 27-yard score to give the Seahawks a 24-17 lead with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter. 

Seattle ultimately led 31-20 and then 31-28 after Mahomes put together a 72-yard scoring drive and ran in a two-point conversion with 4:36 remaining on the clock. At that moment, it appeared logical that Seattle would look to grind out the clock with running back Chris Carson, who had 116 yards on the day. However, Kansas City anticipated that plan of attack and responded by stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run while leaving its cornerbacks in man coverage on Baldwin and wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

First, Lockett got loose for a 41-yard reception down the right sideline while barely staying in bounds as he fell to the ground at the Kansas City 21-yard line.

"Savage for that," Baldwin said of his teammate.

After a sack of Wilson, he turned to Baldwin down the left sideline with a deep pass that appeared to be out of Baldwin's reach. Baldwin, the third receiver inside, said he thought he had made a good release on cornerback Charvarius Ward, who got a little too handsy and grabbed him, earning a defensive holding penalty that ultimately didn't matter. Running a corner route, Baldwin shook off Ward, pushed vertical to the corner, got his head around in time to locate Wilson's lobbed pass, reached out with his right hand and tipped to ball back to himself for the reception before being taken down by Ward at the one-yard line. 

"Fortunately enough, Russ threw a beautiful ball, gave me an opportunity to make a play and I came up with it," Baldwin said.

Carson finished off the drive with a one-yard run to give his team a 38-28 lead with 2:33 remaining in the game. That drive, Baldwin said, was all about Seattle's receivers delivering when called upon. 

"We don't care about how many targets we've had throughout the course of the game or what the numbers are, we're savages," Baldwin said. "When it's our time to make plays and we're given an opportunity to make plays, we are going to make them."

Lockett said having a healthy Baldwin on the field changes games for Seattle.

"Every time he's out there we know that when the ball is in the air he's going to go out there and make that play," Lockett said. "You've seen it. When that looked like it was too far he made that catch to be able to get us to the one or two yard line."

That play almost didn't happen. A few plays earlier, Baldwin seemingly had a sure reception but the ball got knocked away by defensive back Tremon Smith. On the play, Baldwin tweaked his ankle and left the game before quickly returning to set up the game-winning touchdown. 

"I've never seen Doug play better than that," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "I just thought he was magnificent. Just tough catch after tough catch, then he gets his ankle twisted and he comes back and makes the big play after that. Just heroic stuff."

Despite his great performance, Baldwin had little to say about himself on this night. 

"As a great 21st century philosopher once said, 'I'm just here so I don't get fined,'" Baldwin said when asked about his night while referring to former Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch's famously repeated statement during media sessions leading up to Super Bowl XLIX when he declined to answer media questions.

Baldwin felt more compelled to talk about his team, which has pulled together to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. 

"It's not just about football," Baldwin said. "These are great human beings. Great men. And when you put that combination of great men together with the right mentality, resiliency and perseverance, and actually care for one another.... It's a beautiful thing to see men come together and care for each other and really play for each other. You can't put it into words. You really can't."

He just did.

Seattle Seahawks' RB Chris Carson's thirst for contact infectious

Seattle Seahawks' RB Chris Carson's thirst for contact infectious

RENTON, Wash. - Seattle running back Chris Carson often speaks softly during interviews. Reporters must lean in and listen carefully to catch his words. It's a stark contrast to his personality on the field where his violent style of running the football screams loud and clear that the former seventh-round pick not only belongs in the NFL, but he could be developing into a star. 

Carson, in his second season, ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing at 911 yards per game. That's the most for a Seattle running back since 2014 when Marshawn Lunch rushed for 1,306, which is the last time a Seahawks' back went over 1,000 yards. Carson could surpass the 1,000-yard mark on Sunday night at home against Kansas City (11-3) and it's 26th-ranked rushing defense. 

Interestingly, Carson will reach 1,000 yards in the same bruising fashion that Lynch used while reaching that mark four times during his six seasons with Seattle (8-6). No single play defines Carson's running style more than his one-yard touchdown Sunday during Seattle's 26-23 overtime loss at San Francisco. 

“It was a great one," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "That was a great one."

Seattle trailed 20-13 in the fourth quarter and faced a fourth down and goal at the 49ers' one-yard line. Carroll, demonstrating faith in Carson and the team's offensive line, didn't hesitate to go for the touchdown. Quarterback Russell Wilson handed the ball to Carson, who ran up the middle where he was hit by a San Francisco defender at the one. Carson went backward and to the left but didn't go down. Another 49ers defender hit Carson at the two. He again went backward a tad but never lost his balance. Carson shook off the defender and went forward into the end zone with an assist from left tackle Duane Brown. 

"Duane did a good job of helping me get into the end zone," Carson said. 

Carson, who said he enjoys watching highlights of hall of fame running back Eric Dickerson, who ran with an upright style and had sprinter's speed, indicated that he most enjoys fighting for a tough touchdown as he did Sunday rather than scoring on a smooth jaunt into the end zone. 

"Because you work harder to get it," Carson said. "In my mind that's the better accomplishment."

The run so defied the odds that when Carson initially got hit, a few 49ers defenders began running off of the field in triumph while Carson continued to battle toward the end zone. 

"If you look at it, it did seem like they stopped me," Carson said. "At one point I was going backward so I could see why they were excited about it."

According to Carson, he was inspired on the play by Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin who during the drive repeatedly encouraged everyone in the huddle to not be denied and to get the ball into the end zone. 

"I kind of took that to heart," Carson said.

Carson admitted that he didn't know it was fourth down when Wilson handed him the ball. He said he was so caught up in the pace and intensity of the drive that he didn't realize the situation until after he had scored and walked back to the sideline where running back Mike Davis told him how crazy it was that he pulled off that run on fourth down. 

"He finishes everything and you can see it across the field, it just happened to be on the goal line this time," Carroll said. "It was great will, he should’ve been stopped – (Steve) Raible had him stopped (on his radio call). He had him stopped cold, dead, couldn’t make it, and then he came out of nowhere and finished it. It’s really one of my favorites.”

Carson said he didn't enter the season with a statistical goal in mind as he had done in years past. 

"My goal was just to make it through the season after hurting myself last year," said Carson, who missed 12 games last year with a fractured leg.   

Carson has missed two games because of injury. But for the most part, he has proven to be durable. 

"He’s probably one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever been around," Wilson told reporters. "To watch his ability to get into the end zone, he sees things that hardly anybody can ever see. He’s physical as can be. He can catch, he can run, he’s smart as can be too, and he’s humble while doing all those things. It was cool seeing him get into the end zone the other night being physical and not giving up. He has that attitude, so that’s what we love about him.”

Carson is a key reason why Seattle leads the NFL in rushing but he was not selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team. Nor were any of Seattle's linemen, although J.R. Sweezy was named as an alternate. 

"I'm surprised," Carson said regarding Seattle's linemen not being represented. "But we leave all of that up to (the voters).  I think everyone should be in the pro bowl in my opinion."

Carroll mentioned Brown's play when asked about his running game personnel not receiving Pro Bowl honors. 

"Yeah, I don’t know how anybody had a better year than Duane Brown did," he said. "I don’t know how that would happen. He’s been there before, but the league is looking at the throwing game, maybe. Meanwhile, we’re running it.”

What's most important is that Carson and the offensive line have Seattle in position to make the playoffs. That doesn't happen without Carson's tough style of play, which Carroll said can be infectious to the rest of the team. 

"Those guys, and watching the film today where they really could see it and really sharing the experience of it and see what he did and how he did it," Carroll said, "it does affect them.”