Can a player have a better game than Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had Sunday? Wilson completed his first 12 throws as the Seahawks scored touchdowns on their first two possessions to take initiative, and he finished an incredible 31-for-35 for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those were to running back Chris Carson, who wasn’t much of a factor in the run game, but showed he can be a weapon in the pass game with six catches. There were a couple hiccups, such as a poor possession in the two-minute drill to end the first half, as well as a little complacency after taking a 31-12 lead in the fourth quarter. But overall it was a spectacular way for the offense to open the season.
In many ways this was a classic Pete Carroll bend-but-don’t-break defensive performance, as Seattle won with little drama despite giving up 506 yards of offense. A big part of that was success when Atlanta went for it on fourth down, as the Seahawks came up with two important stops when the game was still in the balance. New safety Jamal Adams was everything advertised, as he was everywhere with 12 tackles and a sack, and he provided a new element as a defensive back who was constantly in the backfield. However, Seattle still allowed huge chunks of yards, and the Seahawks struggled to generate a pass rush unless a blitz was called.
Seattle’s special teams came up with a pivotal play early in the second half when Marquise Blair forced a fumble on what looked like was going to be a successful fake punt. Punter Michael Dickson was immaculate, booming long punts that had no chances for returns. David Moore and Travis Homer both had useful returns. One blot was allowing Atlanta to recover a late onside kick, and while it was inconsequential to the final result, allowing an opponent to snare the ball uncontested was not a good look.
A meme that became popular during the offseason was, “Let Russ cook,” referencing unleashing Wilson early in games rather than being conservative and holding off until second halves to open up the playbook. This game showed Seattle is willing to come out of the gate using the pass to set up the run rather than using the run to set up the pass. It was a gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-five, and also to call the play that resulted in a 38-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. Things got a little conservative late, particularly on defense as Atlanta found itself moving the ball far and fast against a prevent defense. But ultimately, the test of coaching in this one was how prepared the team was to play with no preseason games, and Seattle was ready to play.
In this crazy 2020, where the coronavirus pandemic, lack of preseason games and lack of fans in the stands meant there were more question marks entering the season than ever before, Seattle couldn’t have opened much better. The Seahawks were forced to travel 3,000 miles, play a 10 a.m. game and face a Falcons team that finished 2019 hot. Seattle overcame all that and looked like a contender.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer