By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — In a showdown game interrupted by a one-hour lightning delay, the Seattle Seahawks took a big step toward NFC West supremacy by brushing aside division rival and defending conference champion San Francisco on Sunday night, 29-3, before a raucous record crowd at CenturyLink Field.
The nationally televised game was an emotional, physical and penalty-filled clash between two top Super Bowl contenders. The Seahawks, who went unbeaten at home a year ago, kept that string alive by improving to 2-0 in the young season, while dropping the 49ers to 1-1.
“We took this game dead serious and played it like a championship game,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “And these guys were not rattled by any part of it. … We wanted to play with great energy and I thought we played like a championship group out there.”
Added Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: “We came out with a huge win, and that’s exactly what we needed to do.”
What began as a back-and-forth battle swung decisively to the Seahawks in the second half. Running back Marshawn Lynch scored three times — once on a 14-yard burst through the line, another on a 7-yard pass reception and the third on a 2-yard plunge — and the Seahawks added a field goal to turn an expected close game into a romp.
But it was the Seattle defense that drew most of Carroll’s praise after the game. Taking advantage of five turnovers, the Seahawks limited the high-scoring San Francisco offense to just three points and only two serious pushes deep into Seattle territory.
“The defense played a night of nights for us,” Carroll said. “It was a great night against a terrific offense. … We did everything we needed to do on defense.”
In the end, Carroll added, the Seahawks were able “to get a win against a really good club. (The 49ers) are a tremendous football team. They just about won the Super Bowl last year, and they’ve done a fantastic job ever since (head coach Jim Harbaugh) has been there.”
With the offense starting slowly, Seattle’s defense helped the Seahawks to an improbable 5-0 halftime lead. Seattle denied the 49ers with an interception at the goal line, provided the game’s first points with a safety, and used a turnover to set up a second-quarter field goal.
Even with the slow offensive start, “the defense was so on it tonight, it didn’t matter,” Carroll said.
The defense frustrated 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, limiting him to just 13 completions in 28 attempts and 127 passing yards. Three of his passes were intercepted.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, meanwhile, had a sporadic outing, but was good when he needed to be in the second half. He finished 8-for-19 for 142 yards and one touchdown.
“He had another really good night,” Carroll said.
The game began with an intermittent drizzle, but there were reports of lightning storms approaching from the south. During a change of possession with 3:13 to play in the first quarter, referee John Parry announced the game would be delayed for safety reasons.
“Even in the break, (the Seahawks) were having a blast in the locker room,” Carroll said. “They were having fun, getting excited to go back out and play some more.”
The delay lasted exactly 60 minutes, during which there was steady rain and occasional flashes of lightning followed by booming thunder as the storm passed through the area from south to north. The teams finally returned to the field and after a brief warmup the game resumed with San Francisco having a first down at its own 30-yard line.
“I was really proud of the guys,” Carroll said. “They were very prideful about this game because they know that’s a very good football team. And I was real excited about it because it was a great time tonight.”
For as well as the Seahawks played, “we’re still a ways away from getting it all just right,” Carroll said. In particular, he wants to see his team run the football more consistently.
He is also looking forward to seeing some injured players get back on the field, among them defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) and cornerback Brandon Browner (hamstring).
When that happens, he said, “it’s going to be a pretty exciting group.”
The game was played before a CenturyLink Field record crowd of 68,338, topping the previous mark of 68,331 from a 2007 game against the 49ers. It was also the third-largest crowd in Seahawks history behind two games played at Husky Stadium.
“The energy in that stadium, it makes a huge difference for us,” Wilson said.