By John Boyle Herald Columnist
SEATTLE — If you’re part of the ever-growing group of football fans who think the Seattle Seahawks are one of the best teams in the NFL, then Sunday’s 45-17 victory over Jacksonville did nothing to change your mind.
Yet if you’re one of the Seahawks’ doubters, their thrashing of the lowly Jaguars, at home no less, did nothing to change your mind either.
Basically, what the Seahawks did by dismantling what very much looks like the NFL’s worst team was take care of business. The Seahawks should have won big on Sunday, and they did just that. Coming off of an emotional Sunday night win over their biggest rivals, there was a lot of talk about a Seahawks letdown this week, but head coach Pete Carroll and his players insisted over and over that they wouldn’t let that happen.
And then they didn’t.
The Seahawks did what a good team should do when it hosts a pretty bad one. They got ahead, dominated on both sides of the ball, and eventually emptied their bench on the way to a comfortable victory. Yet as much as this was the expected outcome, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Very few people thought the 49ers would lose at home to the Colts Sunday, or that the Packers and Falcons, two of the NFC’s top teams a year ago, would both be 1-2.
Taking care of business against a lesser opponent isn’t sexy. It doesn’t get a prime-time slot on TV, or an equal amount of buzz in the stadium, but for a team with Super Bowl ambitions, it is just as important.
“That’s very important,” said cornerback Brandon Browner “Every W is crucial, critical in this league. Every team is good. You can lose to the best or worst team in this league.”
The Seahawks spent all week talking about how every week is a championship week, how they prepare the same regardless of the opponent, and then they played like it Sunday. After an opening three-and-out, the offense, and the passing game in particular, took a step forward after a rough outing last week. Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes despite leaving the game late in the third quarter, and engineered an impressive five-play, 79-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half that took only 34 seconds.
“That was a fantastic drive,” Carroll said. “That was Russell at his best right there. He did a great job.
Seattle also cut back on its penalties, committing just four after being flagged for 19 in the first two games. And the defense, which had been so good through the first two games, kept it up, holding the Jags to 52 yards and four first downs in the first half as Seattle built a 24-0 halftime lead.
“That’s what we do,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We approach every week like it’s a championship week. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re competing against ourselves. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the field, as long as we execute our game plan, it doesn’t matter.”
It sounds cliche as hell, doesn’t it? But its working for the Seahawks, who have won eight straight regular season games and 10 in a row at home. There have been surprisingly few highs and lows for the Seahawks going back to last season. And Sunday’s win, even against a struggling opponent, was another positive sign, not because the Seahawks beat the Jaguars, but because they stayed sharp in a week that set itself up so perfectly for them to be at least a little off of their game.
“We wanted to execute our game plan like we were ready for the 49ers, not get caught up in the trap game, so to speak,” Browner said.
If anything, despite the lopsided score, the Seahawks feel like they need to play better than they did Sunday. Sure Wilson threw for four touchdowns in limited duty, but there were still two turnovers by the offense. And yes the defense was dominant when it mattered, but the Jaguars did manage 213 yards and 17 points in the second half.
“I think we could have done a lot better than that,” said safety Earl Thomas. “In my mind, I think we should hold teams under 115 passing yards, if they get that. So I was kind of upset about that. There’s a lot of stuff we can work on to get better.”
Nitpicking aside, Thomas and his teammates know it was another important win for the Seahawks. They didn’t take their foot off the gas until the game was well out of reach. They didn’t have the dreaded letdown, and on a day when the rest of their division took a step back, the Seahawks did what a team of their caliber should.
“If you come ready to play, let’s play football,” said receiver Golden Tate. “If you don’t we’ll blow you out. That’s our approach. We play hard every game.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.