Luke Willson had perhaps the best night a former Canadian baseball-hockey-track-soccer player has ever had in the NFL.
How many other second-string tight ends and natives of Ontario catch an 80-yard touchdown, finished with a rumbling run over half the field? Or catch another, 39-yard pass while backpedaling? Or then secure a third grab for a second score, 20 yards from Russell Wilson to begin Seattle’s 21-point fourt-quarter runaway from the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday night’s 35-6 romp that has the Seahawks one win from the NFC West title and the conference’s top playoff seed?
Given this was the only NFL game going Sunday night, on television throughout North America, much of Canada from the Maritimes to the Yukon could have been watching.
“You know what? That’s kind of cool, now that you mentioned it,” Willson said. “Maybe some kids in Canada will be inspired and want to play football, too. That’s pretty neat.”
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin — who had seven catches for 113 yards — wasn’t surprised with Willson’s breakout, part of Seattle’s team-record 596 yards of offense.
“You know, there’s a stigma around that we don’t have that great of athletes, that great of skill players,” Baldwin said. “But if people would do the research they would realize that we just don’t throw the ball that often; we run the ball. That’s what championship offenses do, typically.
“So when we get our opportunities in the passing game we are able to do that. Luke Willson showed what he’s capable of — and that’s a very good defense that we just played.”
Also neat: Seattle’s 2013 fifth-round draft choice did more than his three catches for 139 yards. He also was part of a patchwork offensive line that allowed the wildly blitzing Cardinals to sack Russell Wilson just once and hit him only four times in 35 passing play calls. Last month in the Seahawks’ 19-3 over Arizona in Seattle, the Cardinals dumped Wilson seven times and hit him 11 times.
And that maligned line was missing injured starters Russell Okung at left tackle and Max Unger at center. Alvin Bailey and fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis filled in for each more than admirably.
“Unbelievable,” Willson said. “I really felt tonight that for me, personally, that was one of the most physical games we’ve played in a while. … I mean, that defense, they bring exotic blitzes — and a lot of them. They came with it. And we were able to bow up to them. That was pretty cool.
“The team is really clicking,” Willson said.
LYNCH GIVES THANKS
Running back Marshawn Lynch missed the first quarter with an “upset stomach,” according to the Seahawks.
“He was as sick as I’ve ever seen him,” Seahawks line coach and longtime Lynch confidant Tom Cable said. “He was dry-heaving in the first half.”
While he was late to take the field, arriving before the game’s second offensive play, he was also characteristically the first Seattle player to leave the field when the game ended. He jogged into a stadium tunnel toward the locker room ahead of his teammates.
He fielded seven or eight postgame questions from reporters, but the running back’s response to each query was not “yeah” or “no” this time, as it was following previous games.
“Thanks for asking,” Lynch said to each query about his touchdown run of 79 remarkable yards, or his night.
“I appreciate you asking about my stomach, thank you for asking,” he said when asked about his health.
In October the NFL fined Lynch $100,000 for not talking to the media in the locker room following the Seahawks’ loss at Kansas City.
HAUSCHKA NOT MONEY
Steven Hauschka missed three field goals — wide right from 52 and 50 yards out in the first half and wide left from 47 in the third quarter to keep Arizona in the game, down only 14-6 entering the final period.
“Bad day at the office,” Hauschka said.
And almost unheard of for him.
He entered Sunday night with just three misses in 32 attempts this season. And his three misses against the Cardinals were one more than he had in 43 attempts over 16 regular-season and three playoff games last season.
HE WAS WHAT HE IS
The Seahawks — specifically their front four led by unblockable-at-times Michael Bennett — got after Ryan Lindley early, often and especially late when Arizona had to throw.
And Lindley looked like, well, a third-string quarterback forced by injuries to fill in for his first start in two full years.
A career 51.4 percent passer with zero touchdown and seven interceptions coming in, Lindley finished 18 for 44 for 216 yards and an interception by Richard Sherman. Seattle sacked him four times.
“That’s a lot on me,” Lindley said. “The buck starts and stops here.
“They’re the No. 1-ranked defense in the National Football League. They’re the cream of the crop. But at the same time, you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to execute. This is a job and you’ve got to be professional.”
Wilson’s 339 yards passing were the most for a regular-season game in his three-year career. He won his 36th regular-season game, extending his NFL record for the first three seasons of a career. He is now two ahead of Dan Marino . … Coach Pete Carroll said WR Jermaine Kearse , a graduate of Lakes High, has a hamstring injury of unknown severity. Kearse exited the game after one catch for 8 yards. He appeared to get injured sprinting to cover a second-quarter kickoff. “He didn’t pop it,” Carroll said. “He felt banged up and we shut it down right then.” … TE Cooper Helfet got hit in the ribs and “banged pretty good,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be really sore.” Helfet the game before halftime, tried to play a couple snaps in the third quarter then stayed out. … Reserve CB Tharold Simon injured his shoulder; Carroll didn’t know the severity.