SEATTLE — It took three weeks and tough losses in Denver and Chicago, but finally at home in front of 69,047 fans at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks unveiled the football identity coach Pete Carroll had been promising all offseason.
Seattle committed itself to the run, created pressure and turnovers on defense and earned a much-needed, home-opening 24-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
“We were trying to dictate the game,” Seahawks lineman Duane Brown said. “We made it a big point of emphasis this week, after the last two weeks, to run the ball effectively and protect (quarterback Russell Wilson). That’s the formula for our team, our offense. They got a good front over there, but we were able to pretty much dominate.”
The win saved Seattle (1-2) from a troubling 0-3 start. The 1998 Buffalo Bills were the last team to start the year with three losses and still make the playoffs.
Running back Chris Carson and a re-worked offensive line ensured Seattle won its 15th home opener in the past 16 seasons. Linemen Joey Hunt and DJ Fluker, who replaced injured starters Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic, helped pave the way for Carson’s big day. The second-year back carried 32 times for 102 yards and scored his first career rushing touchdown.
“We just got clear on the commitment and the value of running the football, and we just stayed with it,” Carroll said. “I was really disappointed that we didn’t come into the season in that mode. This is where we want to be, so we righted it hopefully.”
The line also kept Wilson upright most of the day. After yielding 12 sacks through the first two weeks, the line allowed just two sacks and Wilson routinely operated in clean pockets. The Seahawks QB finished 16-of-26 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
A 52-yard touchdown strike from Wilson to Tyler Lockett with 3:34 remaining in the second quarter put the Seahawks in front 14-3, and later a 5-yard touchdown run from Carson with 12:54 to play in the fourth quarter gave Seattle a 24-6 advantage and all but sealed the win.
The Seahawks’ defense provided Seattle a major boost, too. Earl Thomas, who missed two practices earlier this week and has been the subject of trade rumors, intercepted Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott twice. In all, Seattle turned the Cowboys over three times and sacked Prescott five times.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks — Carson rushed 32 times for 102 yards. The Seahawks made a concerted effort to run the ball, and Carson was the beneficiary. He surpassed his six-carry Week 2 total with 5:33 to play in the first quarter and scored his first career rushing TD on a fourth-quarter, 5-yard power run up the middle.
Jarran Reed, Seattle Seahawks — Prescott was largely ineffective, and the Seattle pass-rush had a lot to do with it. Reed recorded two of Seattle’s five sacks and finished with three solo tackles.
Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks — Who knows what Thomas’ future holds with the Seahawks, but there’s no questioning his production. Thomas recorded a team-high seven tackles and picked off Prescott twice. He miraculously pinned a deflected football to his ankle before reeling it in for his first interception. His second thwarted a late Cowboys drive, and before leaving the field he received a taunting penalty for eloquently bowing to the Dallas sideline.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys — The Dallas offense struggled, but Elliott did his part. The All-Pro carried 16 times for 127 yards and caught three passes for 11 yards.
“We have a lot of heart. No matter what, no matter who’s out there, if you have heart, you can do a lot of things in life. I feel like it shows.” — Bobby Wagner on the resiliency of Seattle’s defense.
“I’ll probably feel more of it tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know about that. Right now, I feel pretty good.” — Chris Carson on how he feels physically after 32 carries.
“Obviously, we did not play well on offense. I thought we were able to run the ball well throughout the game. … We were not able to make enough big plays in the passing game. Overall, pass efficiency and explosiveness was not there.” – Jason Garrett on Cowboys’ offensive struggles
PLAY OF THE GAME
While it’s hard to argue against either one of Earl Thomas’ interceptions, the game’s most explosive play came from Tyler Lockett.
Locket, who finished with a team-high four receptions and 77 yards, caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson late in the first half. The speedy wideout won his route at the line, caught a bullet-pass from Wilson and outraced Dallas safety Kavon Frazier down the right sideline for a catch-and-score that put Seattle in front 14-3.
44 — The percentage of Seattle’s third-down conversions. After struggling on third down through the season’s first two weeks, Seattle routinely faced manageable third downs and often converted.
FACE OF THE FRANCHISE
With Sunday’s 24-13 win over Dallas, Russell Wilson earned his 74th win as a Seahawk, matching Seattle great Matt Hasselbeck as the franchise’s all-time winningest quarterbacks.