ICYMI: Seahawks making playoff push; 49ers fading
Here come the Seahawks.
In mid-October, the defending Super Bowl champions were sitting at .500 and coming off consecutive losses. And now? They're playing as well as just about anyone in the NFL, led by their ''Legion of Boom'' and the rest of the defense.
Seattle has won six of its past seven games, including a 24-14 victory Sunday over Chip Kelly's go-go Philadelphia Eagles, who were limited to 139 yards.
Russell Wilson threw for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and rushed for 48 yards and another score, but it's Seattle's `D' that is leading the way right now. Over the past three weeks, the Seahawks have given up a grand total of 20 points while improving to 9-4 and putting themselves in position to make the playoffs.
''We are really connected right now,'' safety Earl Thomas said, ''really in sync.''
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season's 14th Sunday:
49ERS FADING: After three consecutive trips to the NFC title game, the San Francisco 49ers are 7-6 and on pace to miss the playoffs after losing 24-13 to the Oakland Raiders, of all teams. Jim Harbaugh could be on his way out. Colin Kaepernick - who threw an interception on the first play - might want to put on his headphones to drown out all the criticism. ''I haven't played well,'' the ever-tight-lipped Kaepernick acknowledged.
FISHER'S JAB: As if there weren't enough angst in Washington about the off-field drama involving benched Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and first-year head coach Jay Gruden amidst a 3-10 season, Rams coach Jeff Fisher managed to add insult to injury. Six Rams players acquired in connection with the trade that allowed the Redskins to draft Griffin in 2012 were chosen by Fisher as captains for the pregame coin toss before St. Louis' 24-0 victory over Washington. Those players were Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, Greg Robinson, Stedman Bailey and Zac Stacy.
`I CAN'T BREATHE': Lions running back Reggie Bush wore a blue shirt with ''I Can't Breathe'' written in black across the chest during warmups Sunday. Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi had that phrase on the back of a shirt he wore before his game. And Rams teammates Davin Joseph (on his cleats) and Jared Cook (on his wrist tape) also displayed it. Those were words spoken by Eric Garner, who died when a New York police office put him in a chokehold. ''I guess,'' Bush said, ''the situation just touched me.''
SHOULDER-FIRST?: Should helmet-to-helmet penalty calls be reviewable on replay? That question was all over Twitter on Sunday night, after Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner was penalized for a hit on Chargers tight end Ladarius Green with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter of New England's 23-14 victory. The flag erased what appeared to be an interception return for a touchdown by the Patriots. But replays showed that Browner led with his shoulder - the way the NFL wants - and basically made contact with Green's shoulder.
SWEETNESS: Put Le'Veon Bell's name alongside Walter Payton's. Pittsburgh's Bell ran for 185 yards, caught six passes for another 50, and accounted for a trio of TDs in a 42-21 victory at the Bengals. Add it all up, and Bell joined Payton as the only players in NFL history with at least 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.
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