LONDON — The Seattle Seahawks found themselves on an international platform Sunday, and they used the occasion to state their case that they’re still a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
The Seahawks produced a comprehensive performance, dominating from start to finish as they defeated the hapless Oakland Raiders 27-3 Sunday at London’s historic Wembley Stadium.
Seattle was the far superior team in every aspect of the game. The Seahawks opened the contest with a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that ate 7 minutes and 36 seconds off the clock. It marked the first time the Seahawks had scored a TD on their opening offensive possession in 34 games. Meanwhile, Oakland’s offense never reached the red zone until its final possession in the fourth quarter, when the Raiders were able to prevent a shutout with a field goal in garbage time.
Sunday’s result suggests predictions of Seattle’s demise may have been premature. The victory against Oakland was the Seahawks’ third in their past four weeks, with the only loss being last week’s narrow 33-31 defeat against the undefeated Los Angeles Rams. Seattle now heads into its bye week 3-3 after starting the season 0-2, and the Seahawks appear to have learned how to manage life following the mass offseason exodus of big-name stars.
”We’re fired up about what we can do and where we’re going,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “It is one game and one game doesn’t matter, you look at the journey. But to go into the bye week off a tough challenge coming all the way to London … everything was top-notch in how we prepared and I think that showed on the field.”
A crowd of 84,922 was on hand, a record for an NFL game at Wembley. And although the Seahawks had to travel nearly 5,000 miles to play the game, the partisan crowd created an atmosphere that made it feel like the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field.
“It did sound like there were Seahawks fans out there,” said Seattle wide receiver David Moore, who caught his third touchdown pass in two weeks. “It felt great. It felt like we were playing at home, honestly, with the rain, the weather and the fans being wild. It keeps us moving.”
Seattle was able to do anything it wanted against the Raiders.
On offense, the Seahawks’ run game continued its re-emergence as Seattle rushed 37 times for 155 yards. That set up the passing game as quarterback Russell Wilson was nearly flawless, going 17-for-23 for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson was aided by an offensive line that gave him plenty of time to throw. He was sacked only once.
On defense, Seattle terrorized Oakland quarterback Derek Carr. The Seahawks’ pass rush, led by Frank Clark, turned in by far its best performance of the season, finishing with six sacks. The Seahawks also rendered Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch, who was eager to play against his former team for the first time, a non-factor as he finished with just 45 yards on 13 carries. In total Seattle held the Raiders to 185 yards, the fewest allowed by the Seahawks this season.
”We’ve put together four weeks of pretty good football here,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We like the way we’re playing, the style we’re playing with, how physical we’re playing. … I’m really pleased where we are right now, taking off at this break. We needed to be better, and we’ve made the most of it.”
Seattle set the tone right from the start. The Seahawks received the opening kickoff and they ran the ball on each of the game’s first seven plays. That established the mindset that Seattle was going to dominate the game physically, and that’s exactly what happened.
Frank Clark, Seattle. The defensive end, who’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season, continues to increase his value. Clark finished the game with 2.5 sacks, including two strip sacks that resulted in turnovers. He was a constant menace in Oakland’s backfield.
Russell Wilson, Seattle. The Seahawks’ quarterback turned in a nearly perfect performance, going 17-for-23 for 222 yards and three touchdowns, two of those TDs coming on classic Wilson improvisations. The only thing that prevented his performance from being pristine was when he tried to force a ball to Doug Baldwin at the goal line, resulting in a red-zone interception in the third quarter.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle. The Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver, who’s been dealing with multiple injuries, had not been a factor this season, including an uncharacteristic game last week in which he was targeted just once, resulting in a 1-yard reception. However, he busted out Sunday with six catches for 91 yards and provided a deep threat.
Seattle’s tight end depth was tested as Nick Vannett (back) was left inactive after being listed as questionable. Carroll said during the week that Vannett would play, but Saturday’s signing of tight end Tyrone Swoops from the practice squad pointed to the possibility of Vannett sitting out. With Ed Dickson (groin) starting the season on injured reserve and promising rookie Will Dissly (knee) done for the season, it meant Swoops and Darrell Daniels were the only tight ends active Sunday, with tackle George Fant also seeing some snaps at the position.
Defensive end Dion Jordan (knee), who was listed as questionable, was inactive. Linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) were ruled out during the week.
Seattle came out of the game without any new injuries of note. Clark (illness) and cornerback Tre Flowers (cramps) both left the game in the second half, but neither absence was injury related.
The Seahawks can take their time getting back from London as next week is their bye week. The Seahawks return to action Oct. 28 with a game at Detroit. Following that is a four-game gauntlet — Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay, Carolina — that will be Seattle’s toughest stretch of the season.