Seahawks beat Browns 30-13 to clinch postseason berth

Dec 20, 2015, 4:11 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2015, 11:20 am
Doug Baldwin’s two touchdown catches Sunday put him at 13 on the season, tying a Seahawks rec...
Doug Baldwin's two touchdown catches Sunday put him at 13 on the season, tying a Seahawks record. (AP)
(AP)

For a team missing its top two running backs, the Seahawks have had no problem running away from opponents.

No Thomas Rawls. No Marshawn Lynch. No Kam Chancellor. No problem against Cleveland. Not with Russell Wilson functioning as a buzzsaw from the pocket and getting Doug Baldwin into the end zone with historic frequency.

Seahawks 30, Browns 13. It was Seattle’s fifth consecutive victory and the fourth straight game in which it scored 30 or more points. That’s the first time that’s happened in Pete Carroll’s six seasons as Seahawks coach and only the second time it has happened in franchise history.

Wilson’s MVP stretch | Baldwin TDs | Michael returns | Okung injured | Photos

The victory also clinched Seattle a playoff berth for the fourth successive season. Seattle’s victory combined with Tampa Bay’s loss on Thursday and the Giants’ loss earlier on Sunday assures Seattle of one of the two wild-card berths.

Wilson threw three touchdown passes against the Browns, two of them to Baldwin, who has matched the franchise single-season record for touchdown catches with 13.

Jermaine Kearse caught seven passes for 110 yards, his season-high. Throw in a good, solid dose of Christine Michael, whose second-chance tour in Seattle started with 84 yards rushing on 16 carries, and the Seahawks had more than enough to overshadow the fact that the opposing offense reached the end zone for the first time in three weeks against Seattle.

Cleveland scored its only touchdown of the game on the first possession, tight end Gary Barnidge catching a 7-yard scoring pass to punctuate a 15-play drive. It was the first touchdown allowed by Seattle’s defense since the fourth quarter of Seattle’s victory over Pittsburgh when Martavis Bryant scored with 11:40 left. The Vikings’ only touchdown came on a kickoff return, and the Ravens managed only two field goals against Seattle last week, which made Barnidge’s touchdown catch the first offensive touchdown given up by Seattle in more than nine quarters, a span of 138:33 if you want to get precise.

Seattle answered Cleveland’s opening touchdown on its next possession. Kearse drew a pass-interference penalty in the end zone on third-and-8, setting up Seattle with first-and-goal at the Cleveland 1. After two unsuccessful run plays, Wilson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Baldwin.

It was the first of two touchdown catches for Baldwin in the first half, giving him 10 in the span of 14 quarters and 13 this season. The 13 touchdown catches matches Daryl Turner’s single-season franchise record set in 1985.

After Cleveland drove for a second-quarter field goal, Seattle kicked two field goals in the final minute of the second quarter. The second kick was made possible because of a penalty against Cleveland on the final play of the half, a 39-yard pass to Kearse. Officials ruled cornerback Tramon Williams grabbed Kearse’s facemask, and because a half can’t end on a defensive penalty, Seattle had one, untimed down, letting Steven Hauschka kick a 27-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Seattle a 20-10 lead at halftime.

That score was actually a pretty accurate summary of the first two quarters. Seattle was about twice as good as Cleveland. The Seahawks had twice as many first downs as the Browns, 16 to eight, and gained 222 yards of total offense compared to 107 for Cleveland.

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