RB Thomas Rawls tore through Detroit for 161 rushing yards and WR Paul Richardson made the catch of the year as the Seahawks wore down the Lions 26-6 in an NFC wild card game Saturday night at CenturyLink field (box). With its 10th consecutive home playoff win, Seattle advances to the divisional round of the playoffs Saturday afternoon against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
The Lions didn’t acquiesce easily (they trailed 10-3 at halftime and 10-6 after three quarters), but they had zero answer for Rawls, who averaged six yards per carry and broke the playoff single-game mark of 157 yards by Marshawn Lynch against Green Bay Jan. 18, 2015. Rawls also scored on a four-yard run while Richardson tallied on a two-yard, almost insane, one-handed catch.
Richardson’s amazing snatch staked Seattle to a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. The Seahawks used Rawls almost exclusively throughout the first half. Rawls had 107 rushing yards, the first back in Seattle history to surpass the 100-yard mark in the first half of a postseason game.
After the second of Mike Prater’s two 50-plus-yard field goals cur the lead to four, the Seahawks struck for two touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth quarter to send the Lions to their ninth consecutive postseason defeat, an NFL record.
Seattle surrendered its fewest points in a postseason game. The Seahawks ceded seven to Denver in a wild card game in 1983 and seven to the Raiders in a 1984 wild card game.
Ahead 13-6 lead with 11 minutes left, the Seahawks moved from their 18-yard line to the 35. On first down, Wilson looped a long ball to the far sideline to WR Doug Baldwin, who somehow got both feet down for 42-yard gain to the Detroit 23. That set up a four-yard touchdown run by Rawls.
Rawls carried 27 times and played a huge role in the first scoring drive when he had runs of 12, 9, 4, 4, 4, 10, 4 and 6 yards, setting up Wilson’s TD pass to Richardson. Rawls became the first NFL player to crack the century mark in the first half of a playoff game since San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick in 2013. Rawls had a long run of 32 yards.
Wilson completed 23 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns without an interception and finished with a passer rating of 119.3. Wilson improved to 8-3 with 18 TD passes in 11 postseason starts. Wilson is 5-0 in his postseason career at CenturyLink Field and 15-3 in home games played in December and January.
Wilson joins Joe Flacco (2008-12) as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to start a playoff game in each of the first five seasons of a career, and also tied Ben Roethlisberger with eight playoff wins, third-most in the first five seasons of a career.
Baldwin caught 11 passes for 104 yards and fell one shy of the Seahawks’ playoff-game record by Darrell Jackson against St. Louis in 2005.
Richardson had three catches for 48 yards, none more impressive than his one-handed grab for a TD. On 4th-and-goal at the one, Detroit DB Tavon Wilson interfered with Richardson on an end-zone fade route and drew a flag. But Richardson with his right hand grabbed Wilson’s face mask while reaching back and low with his left hand to grab the ball. No call was made on Richardson. He also had a one-handed catch on a fourth-quarter play that helped set up Seattle’s final TD.
Just named to the Associated Press first All-Pro team, LB Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks with 10 tackles (eight solo), while SS Kam Chancellor had seven (six solo) and LB K.J. Wright six (three solo).
DE Cliff Avril recorded two sacks and DE Michael Bennett one. The Seahawks also had four tackles for loss as they limited the Lions to 231 yards, only 49 rushing, 34 by RB Zach Zenner.
In his two previous career playoff games, QB Matt Stafford had thrown for more than 300 yards. But the Seahawks contained him to 205 yards and a 75.7 passer rating. Stafford, nursing an injury on the middle finger of his throwing hand, averaged only 6.4 yards per completion. Stafford orchestrated eight fourth-quarter comeback wins in 2016, but the Lions ended the season with four consecutive losses.
“I’m really fired up to see us run the ball like that. It was just a fantastic night. To hold them without a touchdown is great, just a fantastic night. That’s the game we’ve been looking for. Great plays by our wide receivers. It’s really cool the way this fit together.” — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
“You know what? I’m feeling so good. The big boys up front really did it for us. I didn’t know that was a record (for playoff yards), but we kept the chains moving. We wanted to end it like this, running the football.” — Rawls
“I knew that if we came in and stayed focused, we’d be fine. We prepared well all week. Atlanta is rested and they’re going to be hungry. But we’re going to be hungry, too.” — Wagner
“We bought ourselves another game. That’s all we did.” — Avri.
“They brought me in here to make plays and that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t like one-handed catches, but that’s the way it worked out.” — Richardson
“The guys believed in themselves and believed in the process . It’s great to see that. It’s a perfect time to peak.” — Seahawks C Justin Britt
“I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I took a touchdown from him and I told him I was sorry.” — Baldwin, who snagged a TD pass intended for Jermaine Kearse
“I thought it was coming to me, but I guess not.” — Kearse
The Seahawks advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs for the sixth time in Carroll’s seven seasons in Seattle . . . The Seahawks improved to 16-14 in postseason play, including 12-2 at home . . . Seattle is 23-4-1 in prime-time games, including playoffs, since 2010 . . . Seattle has won five of its past six against Detroit and leads the all-time series 9-5 . . . Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since Jan. 5, 1992, nor has it won a road playoff game since Dec. 22, 1957 at San Francisco (ex-UW star Hugh McElhenny caught a TD pass for the 49ers in that game).
The Seahawks face the NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons (11-5) Saturday in the Georgia Dome at 1:35 p.m., PT. (FOX). The Seahawks defeated the Falcons 26-24 at CenturyLink Field Oct. 16.