SEATTLE — In a tale of two halves, the Seattle Seahawks shrugged off a sputtering first half with a dominating second half, and the result on Sunday afternoon was a 38-17 blowout of the New York Giants at CenturyLink Field.
In perhaps their best 30 minutes of the season, the Seahawks held the visitors scoreless after halftime while scoring three touchdowns and a field goal themselves to rally for their largest margin of victory this season.
“We played really well in the second half,” said Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin. “It felt like Seahawks football again.”
Seattle punished the Giants with a ground game that totaled a team-record 350 yards, the most by an NFL team this season. Running back Marshawn Lynch led the way, churning for 140 yards on 21 carries (6.7 average) with touchdowns of 1, 2, 3 and 16 yards. Quarterback Russell Wilson chipped in 107 yards on 14 carries (7.6 average) with a 1-yard TD run.
On defense, the Seahawks completely shut down New York’s offense in the second half and swung the game with a pivotal turnover late in the third quarter. With the Giants driving for a potential go-ahead touchdown, a deep pass by quarterback Eli Manning was tipped in the end zone — New York receiver Odell Beckham and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman both got hands on the ball — and intercepted by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
Thomas’ 47-yard return gave the Seahawks possession near midfield and was the catalyst for a three-TD fourth-quarter outburst that broke the game open for Seattle.
“I really liked the way we finished this football game,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “We came out at halftime, down 17-14, and we just picked up and took off with it. That’s so important (because) we’re going to need these kinds of finishes, we’re going to need these kinds of games, down the stretch to do what we want to do.”
It was the third straight victory for the Seahawks, who improved to 6-3, and allowed them to remain two games behind Arizona (a 31-14 winner against St. Louis) in the NFC West Division standings.
“I like where we’re going, I really do,” Carroll said. “We’ve made a big shift in the last two weeks (with wins against Carolina and Oakland), and I was hoping it would happen again today. I think we’re playing the style of football that we want to play and that we’re most comfortable with, and that’s running the football and playing defense.”
In the first half, though, a Seattle victory was very much in doubt. The Seahawks scored an early touchdown, but the Giants intercepted a pass by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and used a short field for the tying touchdown, and then went 80 yards in five plays for a 14-7 lead early in the second period.
The Seahawks answered with a touchdown of their own later in the quarter, but New York countered with a go-ahead field goal on the final play of the first half.
A second Wilson interception ended Seattle’s opening possession of the second half, but the Seahawks forced a New York punt, drove for a tying field goal, and then got the Thomas interception that swung the game to Seattle.
“We fixed everything at halftime,” Sherman said. “We eliminated the mental mistakes, we tackled well, we limited the explosive (plays by New York), and that’s how you play good defense.”
Though the first half “was a little shaky,” said linebacker K.J. Wright, “the second half felt really good.”
Ahead for the Seahawks is a difficult stretch that will no doubt determine the team’s playoff prospects and, ultimately, its ability to defend last season’s Super Bowl championship. Over the next four weeks Seattle will play at Kansas City, host division-leading Arizona, and then go back on the road to play San Francisco and Philadelphia. After that, the Seahawks will close their regular season with games against all three division foes.
“The schedule is about to get real interesting,” Wright said. “We just have to make sure we keep going. We have to be real good on the road next week and come up with a win (in Kansas City).”
“We’ve got some difficult games coming up, but we’re up for the challenge,” Baldwin said. “Fortunately enough, we’re getting some guys back (from injuries). But we’re also starting to play really good football, and that’s all you can ask for.”