Hawks outlast Steelers 39-30 but lose Graham

Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 345 passing yards and five touchdowns - three of them to Doug Baldwin - and the Seahawks jumped back into the final wildcard spot with a thrilling victory over Pittsburgh. The news wasn't all good, however, as star tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a torn knee tendon and will miss the rest of the year.

Powered by a career-high 345 passing yards and five touchdown from Russell Wilson, including the game-clincher to Doug Baldwin late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning 39-30.

The news isn't all good for the Seahawks, though as head coach Pete Carroll confirmed during his post-game press conference that star tight end Jimmy Graham - the team's prized off-season acquisition - had suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee and would require what is expected to be season-ending surgery.

The loss of Graham is a crushing blow to a Seahawks offense that had struggled to move the ball effectively for much of the season - but certainly not Sunday against the Steelers.

From the outset it was clear that neither defense could slow down the opposing offense, with Ben Roethlisberger and notably his backup Landry Jonescombining to throw for 480 yards against Seattle's vaunted pass defense - the most ever surrendered by a Seahawks defense.

The big culprit wasn't All-Pro Antonio Brown, who was largely held in check due to sticky, physical coverage from Richard Sherman.

Instead, it was former Oregon State standout Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, who combined for 14 receptions on 270 yards and a touchdown, repeatedly shaking free from DeShawn SheadMarcus Burley and Jeremy Lane.

Baldwin and Kearse were even more productive for the Seahawks, however, combining for 10 catches for 197 yards and all five of Wilson's touchdowns.
Like in a baseball game pitting two ace pitchers, Wilson and Roethlisberger matched each other strike for strike. Wilson career-best performance was quite a 27th birthday present for himself.

The difference in this game was the turnover battle, which Seattle won 4-0 with two interceptions apiece of Roethlisberger and Jones.

Defensive backs Sherman, Lane and Kam Chancellor each caught interceptions, with Seattle's All-Pro strong safety sealing the victory with a pick of Jones, who took over for an injured Roethlisberger on Pittsburgh's final drive.

Lane and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin were made two of the more improbable big plays in a game filled with them.

The 6-2, 325 pound recorded the second interception of his career (and first since 2010) by plucking a poorly thrown screen pass from Roethlisberger.

The second interception of Lane's career was even more bizarre.

Lane was active Sunday for the first time since suffering a torn ACL and broken arm following an interception in last year's Super Bowl - the first of his NFL career.  

He caught his second when Jones threw an ill-conceived pass to starting left tackle (and former tight end) Alejandro Villanueva off a fake field goal attempt.
In a fitting return to the NFL, Lane stepped in front of Villanueva to pick off the pass, returning it 54 yards to set up Seattle's first scoring drive - a 16-yard strike from Wilson to Baldwin, whose caught six passes for 145 yards on his scores.

Baldwin's most dramatic, of course, was the game-sealer which came just over two minutes remaining in the game. After Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin surprisingly opted to kick a field goal down by five with just three minutes remaining, Seattle only had to record a few first downs to win.

That looked much less likely of occurring, however, after two runs by Thomas Rawls resulted in a third and 7.

Afforded good time in the pocket, Wilson found Baldwin streaking across the middle on a drag route and the Seattle's leading receiver did it from there, using a violent stiff-arm and his underrated straight-line speed to pull away from a dramatic 80-yard touchdown to give the Seahawks a 38-30 lead.

Kicker Steven Hauschka kicked the extra point to make it a two-possession game -- hardly an automatic after he'd missed three over the past two games, two of them being blocked. 

That put the pressure back on a Seahawks secondary that had largely struggled.

For much of the game, the attention was on the showdown between All-Pros Brown and Sherman.

To the delight of NFL fans everywhere, the Seahawks opted to shadow Brown for much of the day with Sherman, making for an epic one-on-one battle of two of the NFL's elite players. Sherman was largely able to contain Brown, limiting the NFL's second-most productive receiver this season to just six grabs (on 12 targets) for 51 yards, less than half of the 114-yard average he held over the first 10 games.

Though he was victimized at times, Shead was challenged often and held up very well, earning praise from Carroll after the game. Making his the regular season start at cornerback of his career, the 6-2, 220 pound Shead successfully defended multiple deep balls to Bryant and supplying physical hits to limit his yardage after the catch.

It was Shead, who combined helped defend Bryant on Chancellor's game-sealing interception.

With the victory, the now 6-5 Seahawks control their own destiny for the playoffs, currently holding the last spot in the wildcard standings.

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