Seahawks rout Lions, advance to face Falcons in divisional round

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Seahawks rout Lions, advance to face Falcons in divisional round

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- The formula that has led the Seattle Seahawks to unmatched success over the past five seasons returned.

A healthy dose of Thomas Rawls rumbling on the ground. A few timely throws by Russell Wilson helped by some remarkable catches. And a defense that never allowed Detroit a sniff of the end zone.

Rawls rushed for a franchise playoff-record 161 yards, Paul Richardson made one of the catches of the year for his first career postseason touchdown, and the Seahawks beat the Lions 26-6 on Saturday night in an NFC wild-card game.

Seattle won its 10th straight home playoff game, continuing Detroit's miserable conclusion to the season that finished with four straight losses. Detroit's long playoff history without postseason success continued: no playoff wins since 1992. No road playoff wins since 1957.

Rawls was the workhorse as the run game the Seahawks became known for when Marshawn Lynch was in the backfield finally found consistency that was missing all season. Rawls bettered Lynch's 157 yards in the 2014 NFC championship game against Green Bay. Rawls had runs of 12, 14, 26 and a 32-yarder late in the third quarter, when Wilson ended up being his lead blocker.

Rawls capped his night with a 4-yard touchdown run that gave Seattle a 19-6 lead. He was the first player with at least 150 yards rushing in a playoff game since Lynch's performance against the Packers.

While Rawls did the grunt work, Richardson filled the highlight reel with a trio of catches. None was better than his 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give Seattle a 7-0 lead.

Richardson went horizontal reaching out with his left hand to cradle the pass as he was being interfered with by Tavon Wilson. What wasn't called on the play was Richardson's right hand yanking on the facemask of Wilson as he reached to make the catch.

Richardson had another one-handed catch in the fourth quarter, and Doug Baldwin got into the act of amazing catches, pinning a 10-yard reception to the back of his leg late in the fourth quarter to continue a Seattle drive. Two plays later, Baldwin's 13-yard touchdown reception put it away.

Wilson finished 23 of 30 for 224 yards, while Baldwin had 11 catches for 104 yards.

SHUTDOWN D:
Overshadowed by the offensive performance was Seattle's defense shutting down the Lions. Hampered by a handful of dropped passes and some untimely penalties, the Lions could only manage a pair of long Matt Prater field goals.

Matthew Stafford was 18 of 32 for 205 yards. He was sacked three times and Detroit never ran a play inside the Seattle 33-yard line.

FOURTH-DOWN SUCCESS:
Seattle was 4 of 11 on fourth downs during the regular season, but got two big conversions on its first touchdown drive. On fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 39, Rawls bounced for 4 yards; the drive was capped by Richardson's catch on fourth-and-goal from the 2.

Detroit wasn't so successful. On its third possession, it went on fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 38. The oddly designed play had Stafford throwing behind the line of scrimmage to Matthew Mulligan. The play was blown up by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright for a 2-yard loss.

KICKING IT:
Prater became the first kicker with multiple 50-yard field goals made in the same playoff game, and Seattle's Steven Hauschka was true on both of his field goal attempts. But Hauschka missed his seventh extra point of the season after Rawls' touchdown with 8:43 remaining.

UP NEXT:
Detroit: The Lions will lament the end of their season. After getting its record to 9-4, Detroit lost its final four games.

Seattle: The Seahawks will face the No. 2 seed Atlanta Falcons next Saturday. Seattle beat Atlanta 26-22 in October.

Lynch: There's interest in 49ers' No. 2 pick, 'it's coveted'

Lynch: There's interest in 49ers' No. 2 pick, 'it's coveted'

The 49ers have narrowed their list of potential draft picks for the No. 2 overall selection on Thursday evening but they are also keeping alive the possibility of a trade.

“I can tell you with the No. 2 (pick), there have been calls. There’s been interest, but, I think, nothing specific,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters Monday at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“It’s coveted. When you have a pick that high, I think that’s natural.”

Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, running back Leonard Fournette and several options at defensive back are among the options most often linked to the 49ers at the No. 2 overall pick.

“We’re going to listen right up until draft day,” Lynch said. “But otherwise we’re going to pick a player at two that we feel is a cornerstone for this franchise for years to come and we’ll be very passionate about that pick and what that player can do for us moving forward.”

The 49ers have two veteran quarterbacks – Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley – currently under contract. Lynch said the 49ers have not ruled out the possibility of selecting a quarterback with the team’s top pick.

“I think we’ve stated from the beginning that a franchise quarterback is something we believe is essential to winning in this league,” Lynch said. “We hope that Hoyer and Barkley come in, and they were both brought in for a reason, but we feel like we’ll continue, always continue, to try to improve ourselves at that position.”

The coaching staff will get its first opportunity to evaluate the current roster, beginning Tuesday. With new coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are allowed to conduct a voluntary three-day minicamp before the draft.

“We have a good understanding of where we are and what we’re looking for,” Lynch said. “In terms of just getting a look real quick, and whether that will change our mind on anything, but you would hate not to give guys an opportunity to go show what they are doing before you went out and did that.

“We’ll use it for what it’s worth. I don’t know how much value. I think more than anything our coaches are just really excited to get guys out on the field, so we’ll use it as such. We’ve got a couple players in here on a tryout basis and so we’re happy for that, to see if we can add some things. We’ll evaluate but continue to work on the draft process as well.”

Lynch said the 49ers have implemented changes to the team’s grading process for the draft, drawing on a model the New England Patriots set up. Vice president of player personnel Adam Peters worked in the Patriots’ scouting department before advancing to director of college scouting with the Denver Broncos. Shanahan is also familiar with the grading system from his time with the Atlanta Falcons under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, formerly a Patriots personnel executive.

“I think we tried to create an environment that’s collaborative, where people can be confident in sharing their opinions, and we had strong opinions,” Lynch said. “They didn’t always agree, but we’ve gotten to a point where there’s consensus. Ultimately, it will be Kyle and I together making those decisions and that’s kind of where we are this week.”

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

CLEVELAND -- Finding Bigfoot has been more productive than the Cleveland Browns' search for a franchise quarterback.

This flawed football quest drags on.

For nearly two decades, the Browns, once a standard of NFL excellence and now a league punching bag, have been running in circles as they try to find a quarterback to lead them from the darkness to relevance and respectability. Since the franchise's inglorious expansion return in 1999, they've started 26 quarterbacks, a roll call of names that haunt even the most loyal Cleveland fans holding out hope the team will one day get it right.

From Tim Couch to Trent Dilfer, from Derek Anderson to Cody Kessler, and let's not forget that year of fun with Johnny Manziel, QBs have cycled through Cleveland like tourists, with none sticking around for long.

It's been a running joke.

And until the Browns find that long-term answer at quarterback, they'll continue to be looked at as a laughingstock.

They'll have another chance to perhaps end this long pursuit in this week's NFL draft. With the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks, and four more selections in the first three rounds, the Browns are positioned to finally fix the most important position on the field.

This could be the year Cleveland fans have longed for, the one when the Browns find their Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. But as fate would have it, this year's QB class isn't highly regarded. Many draft experts feel there isn't a quarterback worth a first-round selection and that Cleveland should wait until 2018.

That's just so Browns, whose experiment with Robert Griffin III backfired last season, resulting in the latest QB confusion.

"We're going to keep searching," coach Hue Jackson said recently. "I think we all understand, no one's really claimed this position yet on our football team so we need to do everything we can to continue to add a player that we feel, as an organization, really good about, that can lead our football team and we'll continue to chase that."

The chase continues Thursday when the Browns try to find that elusive, essential piece. Or fumble again.

Here are some quarterback tidbits to chew on when the Browns go on the clock:

UP TOP: Cleveland seems locked in ON Texas A&M defensive stud Myles Garrett at No. 1, and while he's proficient at sacks, there are no three- or seven-step drops in his future. The Browns are impressed with North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, a former Ohio Mr. Football, despite his inexperience (only 13 college starts), but probably not enough to take him first. Landing Garrett and Trubisky would be a dream scenario, but Cleveland may have to trade up as the rebuilding Jets have sent out vibes they prefer Trubisky.

WHY NOT WATSON? Clemson's Deshaun Watson would seem to fit Jackson's profile of the ideal QB: mobile, dynamic, successful. The Browns, though, don't seem enthralled with Watson - not in the first round anyway - unless their silence is a smoke screen. There are other good options like Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas A&M's Patrick Mahomes or California's Davis Webb, who may all be available after Round 1.

DRAFT DEBACLES: The Browns' track record drafting QBs - or any position - is abysmal over the past decade, which is why many Cleveland fans fear the team will mess up again. Since 2007, only OT Joe Thomas and CB Joe Haden have proven to be good choices. Eight other first-round picks are no longer on the roster.

Along with Couch, the No. 1 choice in '99, the Browns have used first-round picks on Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Manziel, who was Johnny Goofball in an orange helmet. Those mistakes shouldn't deter the Browns from selecting a QB early, but they are grim reminders that there are no givens.

WAITING GAME: Would waiting one more year be so bad? Draft experts point to the 2018 QB class, led by UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold, as being more talented than the 2017 group. That wouldn't preclude the Browns from taking a quarterback later in this draft, just not in the first round.

HOMETOWN HEROES: Trubisky is the latest in a long line of Ohio-born QBs tabbed as the Browns' next savior. Quinn, Charlie Frye and Brian Hoyer all grew up as Browns fans, but none was able to lead the turnaround. If Trubisky is picked, the pressure on him to be the team's leader and face of the franchise will be immense.

BYE-BYE BROCK?: The Browns made a shocking move in free agency, acquiring QB Brock Osweiler, his $16 million guaranteed contract and a 2018 second-round pick from Houston. Cleveland made it clear Osweiler was not part of the future, but he's still on the roster and could be part of a fall-back plan if the Browns don't get their desired quarterback.