Russell Wilson likes playing the AFC North.
For the second time in three weeks, Wilson threw for a career-high five touchdowns - three of which went to Doug Baldwin - helping the Seahawks throttle the Baltimore Ravens 35-6 and move into sole possession of the fifth seed in the NFC playoff chase.
Wilson was every bit as brilliant Sunday as he was two weeks ago in Seattle against the Pittsburgh Steelers, spreading the wealth equally to his three primary wide receivers with Jermaine Kearse leading the club in catches (seven for 74 yards), Tyler Lockett posting a team-high 104 yards receiving (on six catches, including two touchdowns) and Baldwin again pacing the team in scoring grabs with half of his six receptions going to touchdowns.
It was the fourth consecutive game in which Wilson has thrown for at least three touchdowns and the third straight multi-score game for Baldwin - all Seattle wins. As noted in Fox's telecast of the game, it was the fourth consecutive game in which Wilson had a QB rating of at least 135.8% -- a mark no other quarterback in the NFL has attained since the league merger back in 1966.
Wilson's precise passing allowed the Seahawks to control the game, even with DuJuan Harris and Fred Jackson combining to rush for just 57 yards on 25 attempts (2.28 average) after rookie phenom Thomas Rawls went down awkwardly with a left ankle injury.
Following the game, Pete Carroll confirmed Seattle's worst fears. The young star suffered a broken left ankle and is finished for the year.
Rawls began the game running brilliantly, rushing for 47 yards on his first five carries and helping Seattle march right down the field. Rawls' left leg appeared to get caught under him on a 2nd and goal rush to the right, however.
After lying on the turf for several moments with Carroll, teammates and Seattle's trainers anxiously leaning over him, Rawls was able to walk off the field and into the locker room on his own but tests completed afterward confirmed the severity of the injury. Expect the Seahawks this week to take a strong look at the running backs available.
Wilson wouldn't let the Seahawks offense slip without Rawls, finding Lockett for a score to punctuate Seattle's first drive and help Seattle pull away with 21 unanswered points in the second half. Wilson was pulled midway through the fourth quarter in favor of backup Tarvaris Jackson.
For all of the euphoria the Seahawks may be feeling after a second consecutive blowout win on the road, the injuries to Rawls and Kam Chancellor are disconcerting.
Harris wound up rushing the ball a game-high 18 times (but for just 42 yards) with Rawls sidelined. Fred Jackson contributed seven rushes for 15 yards. With Marshawn Lynch sidelined indefinitely following surgery for a hernia, the Seahawks could be left scrambling at running back should Rawls' injury limit him for long.
The play in which Chancellor was injured was not as obvious as the one in which Rawls was hurt. Chancellor was caught by Fox's cameras walking to the locker room (and later riding an exercise bike on the sideline) after suffering an injury to his tailbone.
The Seahawks may have a hard time complaining about injuries given that Sunday's opponent was a shell of its former self with stars Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs, Justin Forsett and Eugene Monroe on Injured Reserve.
Pressed into starting duty just a few weeks after joining the team, Jimmy Clausen was less effective than his statistics might indicate. Though he completed 23 of 40 attempts for 273 yards - or 210 more than did in Week Three for the Chicago Bears - Clausen's production was significantly boosted with the Ravens trailing throughout and abandoning the run. The Seahawks limited Baltimore to just 28 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
The now 8-5 Seahawks will be back in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field next week to face Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns. Led by Manziel, the Browns defeated the 49ers Sunday 24-10, improving their record to 3-10 on the season and dropping San Francisco to 4-9 and the NFC West cellar.