By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) — Doubted before the season began, questioned even more after a 0-2 start, the Seattle Seahawks are back where they’ve spent most seasons since Pete Carroll arrived.
The Seahawks are in the playoffs and perhaps as the type of opponent no one would like to see in the postseason.
“You hear it. You hear the noise. You hear the 4-12 predictions, the 5-11 and that stuff motivates you,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “We kept believing.”
Seattle clinched its spot in the NFC playoffs after toppling Kansas City 38-31 on Sunday night, thanks to three touchdown passes from Russell Wilson and a pair of TD runs by Chris Carson.
Wilson got the better of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and helped lead Seattle back to the postseason after missing the playoffs a year ago. Seattle has now made the playoffs in seven of the nine seasons with Carroll in charge, and six of seven with Wilson at quarterback.
It was an unexpected accomplishment after Seattle overhauled its roster in the offseason. But the discovery of the best run game in the NFL, coupled with vets like Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Doug Baldwin was enough for Seattle to navigate its way into the postseason.
“There’s an emotion to it that’s deep and it’s because there wasn’t very many people that thought we could do this,” Carroll said. “Most everybody thought we didn’t have a chance and to hang together, hang through it, we got it done before the season is even over.”
The Seahawks (9-6) can wrap up the No. 5 seed and a matchup with Dallas by beating Arizona in Week 17.
Wilson was 18 of 29 for 271 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with 7:31 left for his third TD. But it was Seattle’s next drive that stood out as the best run team in the NFL put the game on the arm of its quarterback and receivers in the fourth quarter.
Leading 31-28, Wilson hit David Moore for 7 yards to convert a key third-down and after Kansas City used its first timeout with 3:04 left. He followed with a 45-yard strike to Tyler Lockett, and Baldwin added a one-handed catch for 29 yards to the Chiefs 1. Carson capped the decisive drive with his second TD run with 2:29 left gave Seattle a 38-28 lead.
Carson rushed for 116 yards, while Baldwin had seven catches for 126 yards and an acrobatic 27-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
“When it’s our time to make plays and we’re given opportunities to make plays, we are going to make them. We have shown that,” Baldwin said.