This astounding stretch Doug Baldwin is on — 10 touchdown catches in four games, which only the immortal Jerry Rice and now Seattle’s formerly undrafted free agent who got kicked down to Stanford’s practice squad as a junior seven years ago have done — is not the time for Baldwin to bask.
No time to savor joining another Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, Cris Carter, and Calvin Johnson as the only guys since 1960 to have four consecutive games with multiple touchdown receptions. Or tying Daryl Turner’s Seahawks’ record from 1985 with 13 TD catches on the season.
No, there are two more regular-season games and a fourth consecutive playoff run ahead for him and his rampaging Seahawks (9-5) — not to mention what the 27-year-old Baldwin expects to be a long career ahead of him.
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“Look, I’m going to kick you guys in the shins. This stuff means absolutely nothing, OK?” Baldwin said at his locker after two more touchdown catches from Russell Wilson helped spark Seattle’s fifth consecutive win on Sunday, 30-13 over Cleveland. “I’ve had four games which have been OK, five games or whatever it is. But when it’s all said and done, what have you done over the course of a career? That’s what I’m going to be focused on.
“You guys can keep talking about it all you want to. It doesn’t mean anything to me. When I retire I’ll look back on it and see what happens. But right now, I’m just focused on this season, focused on being the best that I can and serving the team the best that I can.”
Richard Sherman knows better.
Sherman was Baldwin’s teammate at Stanford. He saw his great friend lead their Cardinal team with four receptions as a sophomore. And he watched then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh demote Baldwin to the scout team the next season.
He saw the 32 NFL teams pick 254 players in the 2011 draft, including Seattle selecting Sherman in the fifth round, and Baldwin going undrafted.
“You can’t speak enough how amazing this is for him,” Sherman said, about 50 feet to the right of where Baldwin had just threatened to kick some shins. “He deserves every, single thing he’s getting, every single bit of praise — multiplied by 10. He deserves everything, because he’s had a hard journey.
“And that’s going from high school (in Florida), being undersized. Tearing both shoulders in high school during his senior year. Going to college, getting put on scout team as a junior when that’s supposed to be your year to shine. And, honestly, it was nothing of his own (doing). It was just a conflict of interests, of sorts. Then he gets to the league and he fights and claws as an undrafted rookie and leads the team in yards …
“I think for him to have a season like this,” Sherman said of Baldwin, “no one deserves it more.”
BACK AGAIN: “PRETTY COOL”
Sunday’s victory clinched Seattle’s fourth consecutive playoff appearance. It’s the fifth postseason in the six years since Pete Carroll left USC to become the Seahawks’ coach in January 2010.
“I like that. I like that a lot,” said Carroll, who is 59-35 in the regular season and 7-3 in the postseason for Seattle. “That’s what we’re here to do, to be consistent and be on top and battle to see how far you can take it.
“Right now, we’re feeling pretty good about our move. It’s marvelous to be finishing like this again. I can’t tell you anything that I like more. The fact that we’ve made the playoffs, whatever you said it was, it’s pretty cool.”
Rookie defensive tackle Xavier Cooper, a Cleveland third-round pick out of Tacoma’s Wilson High School and Washington State University, had four tackles. His best one was when he sprinted from the interior line to drop the Seahawks’ speedy Tyler Lockett near the line of scrimmage on a wide-receiver screen.
Cooper hosted 20 friends from Tacoma and eight family members at CenturyLink Field.
“The experience was great,” he said. “It’s just great being back and having my friends and family watching.”
As soon as Sunday’s game ended, Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse wandered to midfield for what is becoming an increasingly regular ritual: greeting former University of Washington teammates.
Kearse said hello to Cleveland kicker Travis Coons, one year out of UW, and defensive lineman Danny Shelton, in his rookie season.
“It was cool to see those guys,” Kearse said. “We’re always tight because we’re all Huskies. It’s cool to see a lot more Dawgs in the NFL.”
Kearse had the bragging rights Sunday. Not only did his Seahawks win, Kearse had a game-high seven catches for a career-best 110 yards.
Coons accounted for seven points with field goals of 34 and 37 yards and one point after touchdown.
Shelton, the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft, had been struggling entering Sunday. But he had seven tackles, including one for loss.
He said it felt good to return to Seattle.
“It’s awesome,” said Shelton, a native of Auburn. “Seeing my family, seeing the old fans is something I’ve been looking forward to this whole season. I didn’t get the outcome I wanted, but it’s still a good time. And I am going to remember this.”
Kam Chancellor did not play because of the tailbone he bruised the previous weekend at Baltimore. “We’ll see next week and see how we go,” coach Pete Carroll of Chancellor and the home game against the Rams next weekend. ... Kelcie McCray made his first NFL start at strong safety and was as advertised — a sure tackler — though he lamented that he could have played the pass better. … LT Russell Okung left the game in the fourth quarter with “something of a calf strain,” Carroll said. He will get further evaluation. Alvin Bailey finished the game for Okung. … DeShawn Shead returned from a sprained ankle suffered the previous weekend to start at right cornerback, but gave up a third-down catch on the first drive and stayed out. Jeremy Lane, who started at nickel back inside, moved to right cornerback and Marcus Burley played nickel the rest of the game. … The Seahawks had scoring drives of 15, 12, 10 and 13 plays.
The News Tribune’s Don Ruiz contributed to this report.