SEATTLE — Forget about a lingering hangover from a disheartening road loss.
Facing the NFL’s most potent offense with a playoff spot on the line in a Sunday night prime-time tilt, Seattle’s offense put together a complete performance, the defense limited Kansas City’s big plays and the Seahawks clinched an NFC wild-card berth with a 38-31 win at CenturyLink Field.
“It just feels really good, making it to the playoffs and we’re just getting started,” Seahawks linebacker KJ Wright said. “We got a lot more work to do. This is just the beginning. We got a 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 and play good defense.”
Chris Carson again showcased his bruising running style, compiling 116 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries for his fifth 100-yard game of the year. He accounted for more than half of Seattle’s 210 rushing yards.
Wilson matched Carson’s effort, making big plays when Seattle needed them most. The Seahawks QB completed 18-of-29 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns and got plenty of help from his pass-catchers. Baldwin, after pulling in two touchdowns last week, recorded a season-high 126 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions and Tyler Lockett added 99 receiving yards on four catches.
Kansas City star quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 273 yards and three scores, but Seattle’s secondary limited the Chiefs’ explosive plays.
While the win clinched Seattle (9-6) a playoff berth, next week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals will determine whether Seattle finishes with the No. 5 or No. 6 seed.
Seattle took a 24-17 lead on a Baldwin 27-yard touchdown catch with 0:45 to play in the third quarter, and from there out the Seahawks had a response for every Chiefs’ score.
From the beginning, the Seahawks exerted their physical style on Kansas City (11-4).
Carson punctuated Seattle’s opening drive with a hard-running 4-yard touchdown. Carson took an inside handoff and fought his way through three tackles before plunging into the end zone. The scoring drive took 11 plays, lasted 5:06 and gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead with 8:55 to play in the first quarter.
Kansas City answered with a 54-yard Harrison Butker field goal, trimming the lead to 7-3 at 6:34 in the first. On the following drive, Seattle missed a chance to extend the lead back to a touchdown when Sebastian Janikowski’s 35-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the right upright.
A 2-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Damien Williams with 11:21 to play in the second quarter gave Kansas City its first lead of the game at 10-7. Mahomes, on a first-and-goal, rolled out to his right and found Williams wide open in the flat for a walk-in score, capping a 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive.
After a Seattle three-and-out, Seahawks defensive end Dion Jordan quickly got the ball back for Seattle. The defensive end stripped the ball from Williams on a run play and defensive tackle Jarran Reed pounced on the ball, giving the Seahawks prime scoring position at the Chiefs’ 21-yard line.
Six plays later, and after Baldwin drew a pass interference penalty on a third-and-goal from KC’s 4, Nick Vannett hauled in a 1-yard TD pass from Wilson off a read-option pass. The score put Seattle in front 14-10 with 5:26 to go until half.
Seattle’s defense put a stamp on a strong first half when cornerback Justin Coleman punched the ball out of wide receiver Chris Conley’s hands as the Chiefs were driving into Seahawks’ territory late in the second quarter. Seattle’s Delano Hill recovered the fumble, sending the Seattle into the locker room with a 14-10 advantage.
Janikowski pushed Seattle’s lead to 17-10 with a 28-yard field goal at 9:27 in the third quarter. During the drive, Carson surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, giving Seattle its first back to eclipse the gold standard since Marshawn Lynch accomplished the feat in 2014.
Mahomes brought Kansas City right back with a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive. On a first-and-10 from Seattle’s 25, the MVP candidate showcased his wizardry with a sidearm pass against his momentum that found running back Charcandrick West in perfect stride. West sprinted into the end zone for a 25-yard score. The TD tied the game at 17-17 with 5:18 remaining in the third period.
But Baldwin, who recorded a season-high 126 yards on seven receptions, provided an answer for the Seahawks.
Wilson, on a second-and-8 from KC’s 27, threw a back-shoulder ball to Baldwin, who leaped up into the air and pulled the pass down before landing just inside the front-left pylon for a score. The TD strike concluded an eight-play, 75-yard drive and put Seattle in front 24-17 with 0:45 to go in the third.
Seattle’s defense made a big red-zone stop on Kansas City’s following drive, forcing a 29-yard field goal from Butker that cut the Seahawks’ lead to 24-20 with 10:28 to play.
Less than three minutes later, Seattle pushed its lead to 31-20 after Wilson connected with tight end Ed Dickson in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard TD pass.
The Chiefs quickly answered with a 72-yard scoring drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson, who, working on cornerback Shaquill Griffin, tip-toed the right sideline for a score with 4:36 to play. A 2-point conversion on a Mahomes scrambled cut Seattle’s lead to 31-28.
Simply needing to run the clock out, Seattle instead went to the air on its following drive.
Lockett pulled in a critical 45-yard grab followed by a miraculous one-handed catch from Baldwin that setup a Carson 1-yard TD run. The touchdown gave the Seahawks a 38-28 lead with 2:29 to go.
The Chiefs stayed alive with a 32-yard field goal from Butker with 1:20 to play that trimmed Seattle’s lead to 38-31, but the ensuing onside kick bounced over Vannett’s head and out of bounds to seal the Seattle victory.
The win gives Seattle (9-6) an NFC wild-card berth, but next week’s game against Arizona will determine whether or not the Seahawks finish as the NFC’s No. 5 or No. 6 seed.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks — Carson enjoyed his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the year and also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He finished with 116 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks — Baldwin finished with a season-high 126 receiving yards on seven catches and caught a beautiful back-shoulder 27-yard touchdown pass to put Seattle in front for good with 0:45 remaining in the third quarter.
Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs — Williams played a strong game for the Chiefs. The backup RB compiled 103 rushing yards on 13 carries and also recorded 37 receiving yards and a score.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks — Wilson completed 18-of-29 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He threw scoring tosses to Doug Baldwin, Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson. Wilson also added 57 rushing yards.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs — Mahomes didn’t complete many big plays, but he still managed to throw for 273 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
Seattle (9-6) ends the regular season with a home game against the Arizona Cardinals (3-12) next Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks beat the Cardinals 20-17 back in Week 4 at Arizona.