SEATTLE — Well, the Seattle Seahawks are halfway there.
For the first time this season they looked like the Super Bowl contenders everyone expected them to be this season, and they did it during the second half as they exploded for what turned into a comfortable 46-18 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field.
It’s been a sputtering race to the quarter pole for the Seahawks, a team that began the season as co-favorite in the NFC with the Green Bay Packers, and that continued in the first half against the Colts. But under coach Pete Carroll, Seattle’s mantra has been “finish,” and boy did the Seahawks find their finish Sunday.
“We talked about it this week, that this was an opportunity to take the next step and get this thing moving, and at halftime you couldn’t tell, at 15-10 you couldn’t tell,” Carroll said. “We came out of there and the offense went right down the field and the defense just took off and it went just the way we love it to go.
“It was a terrific night, it just took us a while to get there.”
OK, maybe the Colts didn’t provide the highest caliber of competition. But Seahawks observers are accustomed to witnessing Seattle overwhelm overmatched opposition. During their five-year run of double-digit victories the Seahawks had the attitude, the swagger and the talent where inferior teams knew they were beaten before they even emerged from the locker room for pregame player introductions. That wasn’t the case this season for a Seattle team that had yet to show any hint of dominance.
But in the second half Sunday the Seahawks finally looked like a team that will have future opponents whimpering like a second-grader at a Halloween haunted house.
The first sign of the Seahawks relearning how to finish came a week ago, when the offensive finally arrived to the 2017 season in the final 32 minutes of its game against the Tennessee Titans, scoring four touchdowns. Unfortunately for Seattle, its defense went missing in action, meaning the Seahawks still lost 33-27.
But both the offense and defense showed up to the party in the second half against the Colts. Whatever Carroll and the rest of Seattle’s coaches said at halftime sure did the trick.
On offense Seattle broke loose, displaying a balance and an effectiveness not yet seen this season. With 25 seconds remaining in the first half the Seahawks had managed a mere 84 yards. They finished the game with 477. Seattle’s running backs had just 19 yards on seven carries in the first half, they finished with 132 on 27 carries. The Seahawks scored on just one of their five possessions in the first half, they scored touchdowns on four of their five possessions in the second.
On defense the Seahawks erected a stone wall that all the Colts could do was pound their fists ineffectually against. After gaining 205 yards in the first half ,Indianapolis managed just a paltry 35 in the second as the Colts were completely ineffective against a dominating Seattle front. When Indianapolis needed to respond to Seattle’s go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, the Seahawks’ defense responded the very next play with a strip sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown. And the defense did it without Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril and starting cornerback Lane, both lost early in the game to injury.
“Honestly, nothing was really said (at halftime), we just went out there and played disciplined and sound football,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “The offense came out executing, firing on all cylinders, and it’s a different game when you’re playing with a lead. Their offense can’t play the chip and dink and dunk game, they have to take their shots and drop back and pass, and when our D-line knows they have to drop back and pass, they get a lot more aggressive.”
Now, a cautionary note needs to be made about strength of schedule. Seattle is 2-2 and its wins came at home against the Colts and San Francisco 49ers, which are about as easy a lay-ups as one gets in the NFL. The 49ers won just twice last year and remain winless this year, while the Colts are a team without their franchise quarterback (Andrew Luck, who’s out with a shoulder injury) and whose only victory came against the perennially hapless Cleveland Browns. Seattle needed a last-ditch drive to stave off San Francisco, and the Seahawks were trailing at halftime against Indianapolis.
But in the second half Sunday the Seahawks looked like they were back to their true selves, and they showed they’re halfway to being where they hope to be.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.