AP Sports Writer
Eds: PMs. With AP Photos.
SEATTLE (AP) — Because of what the Seattle Seahawks formula for offensive success has been in the past, Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin would be considered unlikely candidates to find their names in the NFL record book for passing and receiving proficiency.
And yet, the marks Baldwin and Wilson set on Sunday in Seattle’s 30-13 win over Cleveland overshadowed the Seahawks clinching a playoff berth for the fourth straight season and fifth time in six years under Pete Carroll.
Unlikely? Yes. Impressive? Especially so when compared to the names Baldwin and Wilson joined and surpassed with their performances.
“When I retire then maybe we’ll look back on it and see what happens, but right now I’m just focused on this season,” Baldwin said. “Focused on being the best I can and serve my team the best that I can.”
Wilson was 21 of 30 for 249 yards and three touchdowns, two of them going to Baldwin. Wilson’s other TD pass was to Tyler Lockett from 27 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter as Seattle won its fifth straight.
Wilson became the first quarterback to throw for three or more touchdowns and no interceptions in five straight games. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young all had five straight games with three or more TD passes, but Wilson is the only one to do it without throwing an interception.
Right next to Wilson’s feat was what Baldwin accomplished. Baldwin joined Jerry Rice as the only wide receivers in NFL history with 10 TDs over a four-game span in a single season. Rice had 10 TD catches from a combo of Joe Montana and Steve Young during the 1987 season. Baldwin has grabbed all 10 from Wilson, and he became the third wide receiver since 1960 with four straight games with multiple TD catches, joining Calvin Johnson in 2011 and Cris Carter in 1995.
Johnny Manziel started with a 15-play touchdown drive, but he and the rest of the Browns faded from there. Cleveland twice settled for field goals after driving inside the Seattle 20, and Manziel was intercepted by Marcus Burley late in the fourth quarter having to force throws trying to rally.
Manziel was 19 of 32 for 161 yards and a 7-yard TD pass to Gary Barnidge.
“I think we had plenty of opportunities to make the game closer than it was,” Manziel said.
Here’s what else to know from Seattle’s victory:
SUSTAINING SUCCESS: Cleveland’s opening drive was impressive, going 80 yards and converting four third-down situations including the touchdown pass from Manziel to Barnidge. But sustaining that offensive efficiency didn’t happen. The Browns had just 27 total yards the rest of the first half and 150 for the remainder of the game. The 230 total yards were second fewest this season by the Browns.
THE REPLACEMENTS: Seattle started with a committee trying to replace Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls at running back. Derrick Coleman got the first carry and Bryce Brown got a handful of looks, but it was Christine Michael who shined. The former second-round pick by the Seahawks was traded away to Dallas at the end of training camp but re-signed this week. He finished with 84 yards rushing.
“He was very serious about adding to the team,” Carroll said. “He’s been through a lot since he was here before. He recognized the opportunity.”
NO SACK ATTACK: A week after recording nine sacks — the most by any team in the NFL this season — the Browns only got to Wilson twice and one of those was a 0-yard sack. The Browns were credited with 11 quarterback hits, but Wilson’s elusiveness kept Cleveland from being able to put Seattle into long down-and-distance situations.
“When you’re playing a quarterback like that you got to get him down. We tried to get him down a couple of times,” Cleveland defensive lineman Xavier Cooper said.
FOR THE FIRST TIME: Seattle RB Fred Jackson is a role player for the Seahawks and at age 34 is headed to the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Jackson didn’t have a carry against the Browns, but had two receptions including a key third-down conversion catch in the third quarter that was part of a 96-yard scoring drive capped by Wilson’s TD toss to Lockett.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Jackson said. “When I chose to come to Seattle, it was for that, to try and have a chance to get into the playoffs and we’ve done that.”
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