Seahawks hold off Chiefs 38-31, clinch return to the playoffs

Dec 23, 2018, 6:01 PM | Updated: 11:35 pm

Nick Vannett caught one of Russell Wilson's three TD passes in the Seahawks' win. (AP)...

Nick Vannett caught one of Russell Wilson's three TD passes in the Seahawks' win. (AP)


With the ball in their possession, a one-score lead and just under five minutes remaining, the Seahawks showed why they are a playoff football team.

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Russell Wilson completed huge passes to Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin, allowing 1,000-yard running back Chris Carson to punch in his second touchdown of the day and lead the Seahawks to a postseason-clinching 38-31 victory over the 11-win Kansas City Chiefs.

Carson rushed for 116 yards, becoming the first Seahawk to rush for over 1,000 yards since 2014 along the way, and Wilson out-dueled Kansas City quarterback and MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes as Seattle improved to 9-6 on the year.

The win clinched a postseason berth for the Seahawks, who will return to the playoffs after missing out last season for the first time since 2011.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at Seattle’s victory.

First quarter

Seahawks 7, Chiefs 3

In a pivotal game against a team in the argument to be the NFL’s best this season, it was especially important for the Seahawks to establish the tone early. And that they did.

The Seahawks got a hand on each of Patrick Mahomes’ first two pass attempts, forcing the Chiefs to punt after just three plays to open the game.

Seattle’s offense fared much better.

The Seahawks put together an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive, keyed by a pair of big gains from the elusive Russell Wilson (19-yard scramble and 16-yard pass to Doug Baldwin after being flushed out of the pocket) and a number of runs by Chris Carson and Mike Davis, including a tough 4-yard rush to paydirt by Carson.

The Chiefs muffed the ensuing kickoff but maintained possession, and a 25-yard Damien Williams run to midfield helped set up a 54-yard Harrison Butker field goal that got Kansas City on the board with 6:38 left in the first frame.

Seattle missed an opportunity to get those three points back as Sebastian Janikowski hit the upright on a 36-yard attempt after the Seahawks’ offense stalled out at the Kansas City 18. That was the fifth missed field goal and eighth missed kick overall this season for the 40-year-old Janikowski, who is 19 for 24 on field goals and 41 for 44 on PATs.

SEA – Chris Carson 4 run (Sebastian Janikowski kick), 8:55
KC – Harrison Butker 54 FG, 6:38

Second quarter

Seahawks 14, Chiefs 10

Mahomes may be the MVP front-runner because of his passing ability, but the Chiefs instead looked to beat the Seahawks at their own game in the first half.

That would be the running game, and it actually helped Kansas City go in front – briefly.

Damien Williams, a fifth-year running back who came into the game with 102 rushing yards this season and has never broken the 200-yard mark in a campaign, burned Seattle’s defense for 72 yards on 12 carries over the first three Kansas City drives of the game. That included a 2-yard touchdown run that put Kansas City in the lead for the first time in the game, 10-7.

The Seahawks made the Chiefs pay for relying so much on running the ball, however, as Dion Jordan caused a Williams fumble, which Jarran Reed recovered (and then celebrated like he was riding a toy horse).

Not only did Seattle keep Kansas City from scoring for the rest of the half, but it made the most of its opportunity of getting the ball at the Kansas City 21, taking the lead back on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Nick Vannett to close out a drive aided by a defensive pass interference call that was upheld after a lengthy replay challenge.

The Seahawks forced a second three-and-out by the Chiefs (and third series of three plays or less) and was quickly back in Kansas City territory threatening to add on, but facing fourth-and-4 at the 39 they opted to have Michael Dickson punt to pin the Chiefs inside their own 15 with less than a minute before the half.

The Chiefs nearly got into field goal position at the end of the second quarter, but Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman caught up with Kansas City wide receiver Chris Conley, who was crossing midfield on a 24-yard pass from Mahomes, poking the ball loose for Seattle’s second takeaway of the day.

KC – Damien Williams 2 run (Butker kick), 11:21
SEA – Nick Vannett 1 pass from Russell Wilson (Janikowski kick), 5:30

Third quarter

Seahawks 24, Chiefs 17

Congratulations were in order for Carson, who eclipsed 1,000 yards in what has been a breakout season for the second-year back, becoming the first Seahawks player since Marshawn Lynch in 2014 to hit that milestone.

Carson also helped the Seahawks push their lead to 10 points on the opening drive of the second half, one that kicker Sebastian Janikowski actually had two shots at a field goal after taking a nasty spill right on to his bad back on the first. A roughing the kicker penalty on Kansas City’s Jordan Lucas gave Seattle a fresh set of downs, and eventually Janikowski was called upon again for a 28-yard kick that made Seattle’s advantage 20-10.

Pro Bowl punter Michael Dickson filled in for Janikowski on the ensuing kickoff, using his drop kick method to make Kansas City start a series at its own 17.

And that’s when Patrick Mahomes reminded everybody why he’s been the talk of the league this season. He sliced and diced the Seahawks’ defense on drive where he completed 6 of 6 passes and accounted for all 83 yards on the way to a score – 76 passing, 7 rushing. The last pass was an impressive 25-yard TD connection to Charcandrick West.

As spectacular as Mahomes’ throw was, Doug Baldwin’s touchdown catch may have been even better. Russell Wilson found a diving Baldwin for a 27-yard TD, and Janikowski tacked on the extra point to get Seattle back ahead 24-17 with 45 seconds left before the final frame. That capped off an eight-play, 75-play drive that was a pretty convincing response to Kansas City’s best offensive series of the night.

The Seahawks’ defense also had something to say about the Chiefs’ previous drive, forcing a third three-and-out of the game to quickly get the ball back in the hands of Russell Wilson going into the fourth quarter.

SEA – Janikowski 28 FG, 9:30
KC – Charcandrick West 25 pass from Patrick Mahomes (Butker kick), 5:18
SEA – Doug Baldwin 27 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), :45

Fourth quarter

Seahawks 38, Chiefs 31

The Chiefs opened the quarter clawing back within a possession, but an extra opportunity allowed the Seahawks to add to their advantage and then some.

The Seattle defense stood up in the red zone, making Kansas City settle for a 29-yard Butker with 10:32 left. The Seahawks’ offense rushed back down to the Chiefs’ side of the field, led by an incredible play where Wilson escaped out of a sure sack and reeled off a 26-yard gain. Wilson and company appeared to stall out inside the 10, but a defensive holding call on a third down incompletion gave Seattle three more shots at the end zone from the 2. The Hawks only needed one. Wilson connected with tight end Ed Dickson, pushing Seattle’s lead to 31-20 with 7:31 to go.

A fourth down conversion kept the Chiefs alive, however, and a scrambling Mahomes found Demarcus Robinson on an 11-yard touchdown pass, then ran it in himself on the two-point conversion to cut Seattle’s lead to 31-28.

Russell Wilson was not about to be upstaged. Nor Tyler Lockett. Or Doug Baldwin.

The Seahawks showed they are a playoff-worthy team on an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included incredible throws and catches by Wilson to Lockett and Baldwin.

Chris Carson ran in for a 1-yard touchdown to extend Seattle’s lead once again, but a long kick return gave Kansas City a short field and allowed no opportunity for the Seahawks to breathe easy, even after the two-minute warning.

The Chiefs couldn’t find the end zone, however, settling for a field goal and a chance to get the ball back on an onside kick and take one last shot at the end zone to force overtime. The kick went out of bounds, though, allowing the Seahawks to seal up the victory and their return to the playoffs.

KC – Butker 29 FG, 10:32
SEA – Ed Dickson 2 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 7:31
KC – Demarcus Robinson 11 pass from Mahomes (Mahomes run) 4:36
SEA – Carson 1 run (Janikowski kick), 2:29
KC – Butker 32 FG, 1:23

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