Seahawks are now top dog in NFC West

SEATTLE — Marshawn Lynch walked into the end zone, literally, then Richard Sherman danced with cheerleaders, and finally, after a sloppy start by both teams and a delay caused by Mother Nature, the party was on for the Seattle Seahawks.

Yes the season is only two games old and there is still so much to prove, but for now at least, what the Seahawks 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers showed us is that Seattle is now top dog in the NFC West, maybe in the NFL.

Is Week 2 too early to crown anybody? Well, yeah it is, but when you factor in how the Seahawks finished the 2012 season, and how they pummeled the eventual NFC Champion 49ers last December, then did it again Sunday night, it’s hard to argue with anyone who wants to call the Seahawks the NFL’s best team.

The 49ers have what the Seahawks want in the form of consecutive division titles and last year’s NFC Championship team, but the Seahawks sure look like a team ready to take what it wants, including five turnovers on Sunday, the most the 49ers have given up in two-plus seasons under Jim Harbaugh.

When a reporter asked Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll about the fact that his team has outscored the 49ers 71-16 in the past two meetings, the coach who celebrated his 62nd birthday by beating his old rival leaned in and said, “What’s that?”

Now I can’t be certain, maybe Carroll really didn’t hear the question, but it sure seemed like he just wanted to hear that again.

Yes, coach, your team has indeed outscored Harbaugh’s 49ers 71-16 over the last eight quarters.

“What are the combined scores from the last two games?” Sherman asked rhetorically. “Anybody? How much of it is real and how much of it is fabricated. That’s real.”

The Seahawks beat up on their rivals despite a very sluggish start by the offense, they did it with Russell Wilson having an off night, passing for just 142 yards, and they did it despite another 10-penalty game. What the Seahawks did do was show how many different ways they can beat a team. As they did last week, they won with a stifling defense that gave up just 207 total yards. And a week after the passing game carried an offense that couldn’t run the ball, the running game put up 172 yards, the second most allowed by a Harbaugh-coached 49er team, just four yards short of Seattle’s total last season.

“Watch out whenever we figure it out and bring both together in one game,” said Seattle receiver Golden Tate. “When we’re tossing it around at will and we’re running at will, watch out.”

And it wasn’t just that the Seahawks beat their rivals for a second straight night, it was how they did it. Plenty of people believed Seattle could and would win this game, but the consensus with anyone you asked was that they couldn’t repeat last year’s blowout. Then they almost did, even after scoring just five points in the first half. You might not have seen this coming, but the Seahawks did. They knew they had the secondary to shut down quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who they intercepted three times, and receiver Anquan Boldin, who they held to one catch for seven yards a week after he had 13 catches for 208 yards against Green Bay.

“We did what we expected,” Sherman said. “You guys expected something different. You expected maybe a little more Kaepernicking, a couple of these.”

Sherman then kissed his bicep, imitating the San Francisco quarterback’s touchdown celebration.

“We didn’t expect any of that,” he continued. “We didn’t expect any of that. We expected guys to play disciplined ball. We didn’t expect Anquan (Boldin) to go for 200 yards. We didn’t expect for him to go off. We had a great game plan and guys executed it to a T.”

The Seahawks did execute. They executed so well, Lynch was able to walk into the end zone because he was so open on that seven-yard catch; so well Sherman could dance with cheerleaders after intercepting Kaepernick; so well they could go for it on fourth and two in the final minutes, get the first down, then take a knee; so well Sherman could slap his old college coach on the butt after the game, knowing he again had the last laugh.

We won’t know until the postseason if this was the passing of the torch in the NFC. But for one night, it sure did feel like it.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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