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(Sunday, December 26th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 38, Seattle 15
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Josh Freeman threw for 237 yards and five touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handled the Seattle Seahawks, 38-15, at Raymond James Stadium.
Freeman converted 21-of-26 attempts without an interception, Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams both caught two touchdown passes, and LeGarrette Blount rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries in the win.
Tampa Bay (9-6) remained in the playoff hunt but needs a lot of help to garner an NFC wild card selection, while the Seahawks (6-9) will host St. Louis next week in an all-or-nothing game to decide the NFC West title.
"It is gratifying to win meaningful games in December," Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said. "Every week is about steady improvement and we're doing that now.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was 10 [wins] and we're getting closer to that."
Charlie Whitehurst threw for just 66 yards on 11-of-18 passing after replacing starting Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the second quarter.
Hasselbeck left with a hip injury he suffered on a one-yard touchdown run in the final minutes of the first quarter. He grabbed his lower back when he ran in for the score and was tended to by the Seahawks' training staff before heading to the locker room.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries and Leon Washington ran for a 16-yard touchdown for Seattle, which will make the postseason with a win over the 7-8 Rams next week.
The Bucs, meanwhile, will need to knock off the Saints in New Orleans and get help from other teams.
Hasselbeck's score with 2:50 left in the first capped a 11-play, 62-yard drive that was highlighted by Lynch's 29-yard run off right guard.
Tampa Bay responded with a 46-yard Connor Barth field goal on the next drive that began a surge of 31 straight points.
After the Barth field goal the Bucs took the lead when Freeman connected with Winslow in the right corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score.
Freeman put the Bucs up 17-7 with 6:17 left in the half when he hit Williams for a 20-yard score. Freeman connected with Williams off his back foot on 3rd- and-10 as the Tampa Bay QB was being taken to the ground by a Seattle defender.
Barth attempted a 40-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half, but the kick was blocked and recovered by the Seahawks.
A Seahawks punt pinned Tampa Bay back at its own two-yard line to begin the second half, but a methodical 10-play drive widened the Bucs' margin to 24-7 when Freeman hit Winslow for his second score of the game, this time from 21 yards out.
Winslow snagged the reception with a sliding catch at the two-yard line and, after getting to his feet, avoided two defenders as he jumped forward into the end zone for the score.
Williams notched his second touchdown of the game when he and Freeman connected for a seven-yard score with 1:28 left in the third.
The play was set up by a 48-yard Blount run that he took down the right side. The run was essentially a highlight reel for Blount, who jumped over Seattle's Lawyer Milloy, in-stride, as he took the ball down into the red zone.
The Seahawks ended the Bucs' scoring streak at 10:14 of the fourth when Washington ran 16 yards for a score. Seattle converted a two-point conversion to move within 31-15.
Freeman's fifth touchdown pass of the game came with 7:56 left in the game as he hit Maurice Stovall for a two-yard score. The play was set up by another impressive Blount run as he took the first play from scrimmage 53 yards.
"We came here and got nothing done in any phase -- offense, defense or special teams," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. "We did not accomplish anything in this game."
Freeman's five touchdowns tied a franchise record for most in a single game (Steve DeBerg, Brad Johnson)...Tampa Bay running back Earnest Graham left the game in the second quarter after suffering a head injury. He walked off the field on his own power. The Bucs also lost rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn, who suffered a knee injury early in the second quarter...Tampa Bay improved to 9-1 against teams with a losing record...The game featured winds of up to 30 mph at kickoff...Seattle has lost three straight...Hasselbeck was 3-of-4 passing for 24 yards before leaving.
12/26 22:29:37 ET
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