SEATTLE — Russell Wilson was sick of the story line about the Seattle Seahawks inability to finish games in the fourth quarter.
And he was just sick, needing three IVs to make it through a game Sunday against Pittsburgh after waking up feeling awful.
He felt just fine by the end of the day, after one of the best performances of his career led the Seahawks to a needed 39-30 victory over the Steelers.
“I thought we did a great job tonight on offense,” Wilson said. “We hung in there, kept battling. We played relentless football, and that’s how we have to play.”
Wilson threw a career-high five touchdown passes and the Seahawks pulled away late to spoil a record-setting day by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Wilson threw three touchdowns to Doug Baldwin, two coming in the final 8:12, including an 80-yard catch-and-run TD with 2:01 left that gave the Seahawks a nine-point lead.
After relying so much on its defense in the past, Seattle’s offense won this one.
“Whenever his back is against the wall is when he plays his best,” Baldwin said of Wilson. “I wouldn’t count him out for anything.”
Seattle (6-5) finally got the better of a top quarterback after losing to Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton earlier in the season. They didn’t let a fourth-quarter lead slip away as they have in all five of their losses. And the Seahawks finally got on the top side of the .500 mark for the first time all season, putting them in position for a late charge at a playoff spot over the final five weeks.
They got there barely because of an amazing day by Roethlisberger, who threw for 456 yards, the most ever against the Seahawks. It was the third highest total of Roethlisberger’s career but came along with two interceptions that both led to touchdowns for the Seahawks.
Roethlisberger was also on the sideline for the final 2 minutes getting examined for a possible concussion, leaving Landry Jones to try and pull off a late rally that never materialized.
“We felt like the opportunities were there today in the pass game and they were,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “Just not enough largely, collectively to win.”
Here’s what else to know about Seattle’s first win over Pittsburgh since 2003:
STILL STREAKING: Lost in the performance by Wilson was another 100-yard day on the ground by the Seahawks, extending their streak to 22 straight games of rushing for at least 100 yards as a team.
Seattle finished with exactly 100 yards rushing, led by Thomas Rawls’ 81 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown. Usual starter Marshawn Lynch underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a lower abdominal injury and is expected to be out until late in the season. Rawls averaged 5.1 yards per carry in the first half, but Pittsburgh’s run defense was far better in the second half.
FORGOTTEN ABOUT: Tomlin insisted that Pittsburgh can still run, but the ground game was an afterthought. The Steelers attempted just 14 rushes, five of those coming from Roethlisberger. DeAngelo Williams had just eight carries, although he was significant in the pass game with seven catches for 88 yards.
The 14 rushes were the fewest by Pittsburgh since attempting just 11 runs in a 2006 loss to Baltimore.
FAILED FAKE: Pittsburgh’s attempt at catching Seattle unprepared instead provided the Seahawks a spark.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Steelers lined up for field goal attempt from Chris Boswell. But after getting into formation, Landry Jones stood up, took the snap and attempted a pass down the sideline for tackle-eligible Alejandro Villanueva. Seattle’s Jeremy Lane wasn’t fooled, intercepting the pass and returning it 54 yards to set up Wilson’s first touchdown pass.
“Al’s the second option on that whole deal. I just tried to put one up and that guy made a great play on the ball,” Jones said.
PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS??: Seattle helped itself in its attempt to get back to the postseason moving into a tie — in terms of record — with Atlanta for the second wild card spot in the NFC. Pittsburgh’s loss leaves it three games behind Cincinnati in the AFC North, but the Steelers are still in the middle of the wild card race. Pittsburgh has the same record as Kansas City, Houston, Indianapolis and the New York Jets in the wild card chase.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org/ dailyastorian