SEATTLE — After sputtering in the season’s first two games, the Seattle Seahawks showed what they hope are their true colors Sunday afternoon.
Time will tell, of course, if the Seahawks are really as good as they looked in beating San Francisco 37-18 at CenturyLink Field. But for a Seattle team still smarting after less than stellar efforts against Miami (a 12-10 victory) and Los Angeles (a 9-3 loss), a blowout win against the rival 49ers in Week 3 could be the perfect tonic.
It was, said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, “a game that we needed. After the first two weeks we had not really got on track. … We needed this badly. It really feels to me like we started (to jell) and I’d like to build on this one.”
On an afternoon of blue sky and bright sunshine, the Seahawks won their sixth straight game against San Francisco (a streak that began with the memorable 2013 NFC Championship game) with significant contributions from their offense, defense and special teams. They scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession, another TD on their next offensive possession, and built a 37-3 lead early in the fourth quarter that made two late San Francisco touchdowns an annoying afterthought.
Before the game, said Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright, “Coach Carroll was telling us, ‘Let’s get the season started this game.’ Those past two games hadn’t gone right, but in all three phases we were on today. That’s how Seahawks football is, and that’s what’s going to take us to the playoffs and to win our division. Everything was clicking … and it felt like it’s supposed to feel like.”
It was, agreed quarterback Russell Wilson, “a great win.”
Other than San Francisco’s two late TDs, there were few blemishes for the Seahawks. There was, however, one big scare. Wilson left the game early in the third quarter after his left knee bent awkwardly as he was being sacked by 49ers linebacker Eli Harold. Wilson was out for one play, returned for three plays, and then was replaced the rest of the way by backup quarterback Trevone Boykin.
Though he spent the fourth quarter walking the sideline with a wrap on his knee, Wilson said he does not expect to miss any games. “I’ll take an MRI (as a precaution), but I’ll be good to go.” he said.
After going an entire game without scoring a touchdown last week, Seattle needed just 36 seconds to reach the end zone against San Francisco. Following a touchback on the opening kickoff and an incomplete pass, Wilson found wide receiver Doug Baldwin open near the left sideline for 34 yards to the San Francisco 41. On the next play, running back Christine Michael burst through a huge hole on the left side — every Seahawks blocker on that side had his man sealed — and raced to his first career NFL touchdown.
Seattle’s next drive took longer, but was equally fruitful. The Seahawks marched 62 yards in 14 plays, with Michael covering the final 4 yards on a run up the middle.
A fumble by Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham set up a San Francisco field goal, but Seattle tacked on another touchdown — Wilson found Graham wide open in the end zone for an 18-yard scoring pass — and a subsequent field goal for a 24-3 halftime margin. Three straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters resulted in a pair of Steven Hauschka field goals and a 16-yard Boykin-to-Baldwin TD pass to make the game a rout.
Hardly surprising, there were smiles aplenty in the Seattle locker room after the game.
“You don’t want to lose two weeks in a row to two division opponents, so it was great to win,” safety Earl Thomas said. “And then (to win) in the fashion we did, it was pretty special.”
Seattle will be in New York next weekend for a game against the Jets. With a win, the Seahawks would improve to 3-1 and retain a share of the NFC West lead, or perhaps have the lead outright.
“But the biggest thing for us as a team,” Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril pointed out, “is to keep getting better. This was definitely a good win and we’re definitely happy to get a divisional win, but there’s still a lot of corrections that need to be made and we still need to grow as a team. We’ve still got to find our identity, but this is a stepping stone.
“We can’t get complacent,” he said. “We had one good game, but we still have a long journey ahead of us.”