SEATTLE (AP) — Red Bryant remembers the early years of his career, when the Seattle Seahawks struggled to win only four and five games in his first two seasons.
Getting a 10th win on Sunday night and a trip to the postseason was special to the Seahawks' big defensive end.
"Who has been playing better than us the last few weeks?" Bryant questioned. "This is the National Football League and you don't get any gimmies. We work hard to win. ... It's hard to win in this league."
Russell Wilson threw a career-high four touchdown passes to move into second place for most TD passes by a rookie, Marshawn Lynch scored two first-quarter TDs, and the Seahawks routed the San Francisco 49ers 42-13.
Richard Sherman returned Bryant's blocked field goal 90 yards for another touchdown as the Seahawks (10-5) jumped to a 21-0 lead. That only added to an already hyped crowd on a typically cold and rainy December night, with noise echoing off the walls and overhanging roof of CenturyLink Field that might have been heard all the way across Puget Sound.
No one appeared to care about the weather, not with the performance they were seeing on the field. And not with a ticket to the postseason guaranteed thanks to Seattle's first 10-win season since 2007.
"We knew we were capable of doing this. We had no doubt. Even in Week 1, we knew that we had the talent to do what we're doing now," said wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who had two touchdown receptions. "It took time because we're a young team. We had to mature. We had to grow together, build that chemistry, build that trust out there on the field. That's the most important thing."
Seattle surged into the playoffs on the strength of its sixth win in seven games, putting up dizzying offensive numbers that no one thought would continue against the top scoring defense in the NFL but did.
Seattle has outscored its last three opponents 150-30. The 42 points were the most allowed since Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers, and the most San Francisco yielded since giving up 45 to Atlanta in 2009. It was the perfect way for Seattle coach Pete Carroll to snap a three-game losing streak against his rival.
"We just try to play really good football and see what happens at the end," Carroll said. "We have been scoring and doing a nice job of it and it would be great If we can keep it rolling."
Seattle will likely be the No. 5 seed in the NFC. There remains a slight chance of winning the NFC West, if the Seahawks beat St. Louis in the season finale and Arizona can upset the 49ers in San Francisco.
The Seahawks, 7-0 at home, delayed San Francisco (10-4-1) from celebrating a division title. They turned Harbaugh's 49th birthday into a miserable evening.