SEATTLE – On an afternoon when local football fans could not possibly get any louder, the Seattle Seahawks made sure they did.
The stadium-record crowd of 68,161 fans who turned out for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants was already lathered before kickoff, and the early domination carried the Qwest Field noise to another level en route to a 42-30 Seahawks victory.
A 35-3 halftime lead blew out so many vocal chords that the Giants’ fourth-quarter rally served as somewhat of a welcome relief for the burnt-out voices.
“The 12th Man, it seemed like we had 24 men out there,” wide receiver Darrell Jackson said of the fans. “They took it on their shoulders. I think they got a little offended when (the league) told them we had a little extra noise in there, so they went out and showed them how loud it was.”
Seattle earned its 12th consecutive home win in impressive fashion, despite a second-half fade that saw the Giants score 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The Giants (1-2) could not come back from a 42-3, third-quarter deficit as the Seahawks hung on to keep their perfect 3-0 record on the season.
The defense forced four first-half turnovers, while quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tossed four touchdown passes, as Seattle methodically built up a 35-0 lead through the first 29 minutes, 15 seconds. A Hasselbeck interception on the first offensive play, and a Jay Feely field goal at the end of the first half, marked the only lowlights during a near-perfect first half of Seahawks football.
“Every time you looked up, the defense was getting another turnover,” offensive lineman Robbie Tobeck said. “And we were able to capitalize on it.”
The second half started out with more of the same, as Seattle’s defense shut down the Giants on the opening possession and the Seahawks drove 70 yards during a 10-minute drive that culminated in Hasselbeck’s fifth touchdown pass. That 42-3 lead late in the third quarter looked more than comfortable, but the Giants would make a furious rally. New York scored three touchdowns in just over four minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter, then added another score with 2:42 remaining in the game.
“We had them on the ropes,” Tobeck said. “Unfortunately, we (kicked) it around a little bit.”
Despite the way things finished, the Seahawks re-established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the NFC. Seattle and Chicago look like the two best teams in the conference, and now they’ll face off this Sunday at Soldier Field.
“The defense has to pick it up,” linebacker Leroy Hill said after the Giants piled up 232 of their 337 total yards in the second half and 185 in the fourth quarter alone. “Chicago has a pretty good defense that will create a lot of problems. Hopefully we can create a lot of problems for their offense, too, and then it will be a good game.”
With two road games sandwiching a bye over the next three weeks, the Seahawks will have to try to keep winning without the help of their home fans. Sunday’s game proved once against just how strong the team’s homefield advantage is.
“It was unbelievable,” Tobeck said. “Before I even went out for the game, I could hear the crowd. It’s rare that you can hear the crowd from the locker room, but you could hear them.
“We got one of those (first-half) interceptions, and we’re running out on the field, and it literally hurt my ears a little because they were so loud. But I’ll take that kind of ear pain. It was awesome.”
Added defensive end Grant Wistrom: “The crowd was as loud during pregame as it was in any stadium I’ve ever been in. That’s exciting, especially as a defensive player.”
The crowd had such an effect on the game that Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren was able to joke about the fourth-quarter meltdown afterward.
“We try our best to keep people in the stands,” he said. “My goodness.”
Fortunately for the Seahawks, three dominant quarters were enough to offset a forgettable fourth.
As Engram said afterward: “Any team in the league would want to be 3-0 right now.”