By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
TORONTO — They’re playing their best football at the right time —– at the end of the year with an eye toward the postseason.
The Seattle Seahawks hung 50 points in back-to-back games for just the third time in NFL history — and the first time since 1950 — with a 50-17 romp over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in front of a festive crowd at the Rogers Centre.
Seattle defensive end Red Bryant was proud of his team’s effort, but already had his attention focused on the team’s upcoming matchup against NFC West rival San Francisco.
“We’re playing lights out right now,” Bryant said. “We just have to keep the momentum going. We’re all looking forward to Sunday night against the 49ers. Nothing else has to be said.”
San Francisco clinched a playoff berth with a 41-34 victory at New England on Sunday. The Seahawks at 9-5 sit 1 1⁄2 games back of the 49ers (10-3-1) in the division.
With wins over San Francisco and St. Louis in the final two games of the season at home, and a 49ers loss in their final game of the year at home against Arizona, the Seahawks could claim their second NFC West title in three seasons under head coach Pete Carroll.
Sparking performances are becoming old hat for Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Buffalo’s defense looked baffled trying to defend the nifty, strong-armed quarterback.
Wilson scored three rushing touchdowns and threw for another one in the first half, a 4-yard toss to tight end Zach Miller, becoming the first player to do that in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Wilson finished 14-of-23 for 205 yards, and also rushed nine times for 92 yards.
“I’m blessed to be a Seahawk,” Wilson said after the game. “This is the team that I wanted to come to, so it’s a blessing to play here.”
In his first game against his former team, running back Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards for the eighth time this season, finishing with 113 yards on 10 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run.
The Seahawks finished with 466 yards of total offense — the third straight week Seattle’s offense had put up over 400 yards of offense.
“What’s important is that you continue to execute really well regardless of the circumstances and who you’re playing,” Carroll said. “Our guys played football like we’re capable of playing.”
Seattle also notched the team’s first three-game winning streak since December 2011, and scored at least 50 points in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
The Seahawks are currently the No. 5 seed in the NFC. Washington (8-6) is the NFC East division leader by virtue of that team’s win over Cleveland. Minnesota (8-6) is the No. 6 seed. Chicago (8-6), Dallas (8-6) and the New York Giants (8-6) remain in the hunt for a wild card spot.
The Bills dropped to 5-9 on the season.
The Seahawks scored on their first five possessions in jumping to a 31-7 lead, and had a streak of 78 points scored dating back to the Chicago game three weeks ago, before Buffalo got on the board with 34 seconds left in the first quarter on a 14-yard run by C.J. Spiller.
Spiller became the third running back this season to rush over 100 yards against Seattle, finishing with 103 yards on 17 carries to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his NFL career.
The Bills made a game of it the second quarter. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick engineered a nine-play, 82-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson.
And after a three-and-out by Seattle’s offense, the Bills marched into field goal position and got a 41-yarder by kicker Rian Lindell, to close out the scoring at 31-17 at halftime.
Buffalo had some momentum and the ball to open the second half. However, Fitzpatrick turned it over three straight times in the third quarter, including a spectacular 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by Seattle safety Earl Thomas — the first of his career — which led to the fourth quarter basically turning into a scrimmage for a second straight game.
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright got things started, picking off Fitzpatrick on first-and-15 from Buffalo’s 34-yard line on a pass intended for tight end Scott Chandler.
Wright returned the ball to the Buffalo’s 24-yard line, and Lynch bowled into the end zone from 13 yards out two plays later.
On Buffalo’s ensuing possession, defensive end Chris Clemons sacked Fitzpatrick at midfield, stripping him of the ball. Fellow defensive end Bruce Irvin recovered the ball and raced to Buffalo’s 10-yard line. Seattle had to settle for a Steven Hauschka field goal.
Clemons finished with 2 1⁄2 sacks on the day, pushing his total to a career-high 11 1⁄2 on the year and reaching double digits in sacks for a third straight season.
Thomas put the game away with his 57-yard interception return for a score on the following possession, giving Seattle a 47-17 lead midway through the third quarter.