Seattle Seahawks 33, at Atlanta Falcons 10.
They are who Seattle fans thought they were.
Despite injuries to the offensive line and the loss of CB Brandon Browner (strained groin), the Seahawks Sunday put together their most comprehensive beat-down of the season, using the hammer of Marshawn Lynch to pulverize the home-standing Falcons as well as doubts from the season’s first half. While the much-wounded Falcons are a shadow of the team that beat the Seahawks in the playoffs, Seattle was unable to bury the previous two opponents of similarly modest accomplishments. With 490 yards of total offense that included 145 rushing yards from Lynch — the Falcons had 226 yards for the game — the Seahawks were in total control.
FISTS TO SKY
- Seahawks are 5-1 on the road, matching the club record with two remaining. They had three road wins all of last season.
- Burying their recent trend of slow starts, the Seahawks scored seven times in their first eight possessions.
- Lynch. Lynch. Lynch. He had the ball six times on the opening drive as Seattle committed to him, unlike previous weeks. Besides his yardage total, Lynch had a wicked stiff-arm in the first quarter of safety William Moore, and threw a short pass back to Wilson that turned into . . .
- Trickeration play of the Seattle season: Lynch took a hand-off for a sweep right, stopped, threw back to Wilson, who unloaded a 43-yard bomb in the end zone to WR Jermaine Kearse, who beat good coverage to the catch.
- Among his six receptions for 106 yards, Golden Tate made the catch of the day with a one-handed spear of a fade-route toss in a tiny window of the end zone’s corner, barely keeping both feet inbounds.
- Unlike the previous first half against Tampa, the defense choked off the running game early and allowed the Falcons three points, five first downs and 99 yards of offense before intermission.
PALMS TO FOREHEADS
- The Seahawks’ only real negative was the 80 yards given up on nine penalties, including two that sustained Atlanta’s only touchdown drive with first downs. But one was a roughing foul on DE Michael Bennett against QB Matt Ryan that was preposterous — a plunging Bennett properly wrapped up, without violence, Ryan’s legs and he fell down. Expect by Wednesday the by-now-traditional apology from the NFL office.
- Wilson would have gone sackless except for a play in the first quarter where he scrambled left and, seeing no one open, should have thrown the ball away. Given the beatings he previously absorbed, the error Sunday amounts to a nit.
On the win: “It’s the best game we played. It’s the game we been looking for. We haven’t played from start to finish like we liked to. It’s huge for us. The most important thing is what was happening at the line of scrimmage . . . We’ve knocked down a bunch of road games. It doesn’t matter which time zone we’re in.”
On starting fast offensively: “The last couple of weeks we played harder as game went on. The challenge was issued to see if that can be done for the entire game. We showed what we’re capable of.”
On the offensive line’s play: “It was a statement about these guys — (backups) Michael Bowie, Alvin Bailey, Lem Jeanpierre — you can see the improvement of these guys. It was a fantastic accomplishment. We ran the ball well and protected really well. We have terrific depth, and have a chance to get back two tackles (Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini) and a center (Max Unger) next week. It’s kind of hard to imagine.”
On switching RT Bailey to RG for a few plays: “(Assistant coach Tom Cable) was ready all week to pull Bailey out of the bullpen. I thought it went very well. It’s got to be unsettling a little for those guys.”
On Lynch: “He’s been playing so consistently and aggressively. He had some great finishes. That’s who he is, and we love it. Lynch was on it again today. We just love the intensity he brought.”
On the double-pass play for a touchdown: “There was a lot of things going on there, and it was a beautifully executed play. A lot of things had to happen, and they did.”
Replacing injured DE Red Bryant with DE Mike Bennett: “He did a great job. We didn’t lose a step. He was real active. He had 25 plays last week and probably had 40 today.”
On waiting for a breakout game: “About a month ago, I was waiting to see it happen. Good things happened behind closed doors this week at practice. We’ve been on the road a lot already, this was a challenging trip, and you couldn’t tell it at all. We made a statement of how hard we can play from first the minute to the last minute. . . It was our most complete game of the year. We were rock-solid on special teams, the defense played terrific, with exception of the penalties on a couple of drives. We covered well and took care of (Atlanta’s) running game the way we hoped to.”
On Wilson: “Russell got banged one time, one sack he took himself. He had a really, really good day across the board.
On the TD pass to Tate with eight seconds left in the first half: “It’s hard on the opponent when you score with no time left in the half. We sent a message that we were for real.”
On the win: “I truly believe every one was tuned in this week. We have to keep that mentality going. There’s areas where we can grow. I felt like I was lasered in today. Marshawn’s 145 yards, that’s a credit to the line. To have that much versatility in the line is great for us.”
On Kearse, who had three catches for 75 yards: “I told you guys at the beginning of the season that he was going to have breakout year. He works at his craft every day.”
On the toss-sweep flea-flicker for a TD: “We’d used the toss sweep earlier in the game, so we thought (the throwback play) was possible to get. (OC) Darrell Bevell and I talked about it on the sideline and wanted to call it. It was a big-time play. Marshawn threw a decent pass to me and Jermaine just attacked the ball.”
On Lynch’s throwback pass: “For as big as he is, he threw a strike. It wasn’t a ball. A little wobbly. He had to sell the run first or it doesn’t work.”
On the presence of Seattle fans in the Georgia Dome: “Every game we play on the road, we have this wonderful crowd. You could hear them chanting here all game. It brings us great energy. We have to learn how to bring that energy. There’s nothing better than to have the 12th Man there cheering their heads off.”
On his and the team’s cool on the road: “My goal is to be the calm in the storm. The guy who is always relaxed and poised. In practice, we are prepared for all the situations we see in the game.”
On whether this was the Seahawks’ best game: “I hope so, because the goal is to be better than the week before. And we want to be better next week. It’s a constant progression.”
Few teams that reach the Super Bowl can point to a regular season without losses, mediocre play or multi-week slumps. The Seahawks made a case Sunday for the beginning of a 2.0 version of their season.
Carroll said the defensive assignment changes needed to help slow the run could be applied in a week. He wasn’t kidding. The Falcons were held to 64 yards, the longest for 17 yards.
The offense needed only 19 completions to get 287 yards, as WR Jermaine Kearse took steps toward replacing the threat supplied by injured Sidney Rice. Yes, it was another Russell and Marshawn show, but it was supplemented by explosive plays and an offensive line that regained its dignity.
With 2-7 Minnesota due in Seattle Sunday, followed with a bye week, the Seahawks have a relatively clean path to engage the only teams remaining on their schedule with winning records: New Orleans, San Francisco and Arizona.
Having learned, without serious consequence, to assume nothing about their opponents — unlike San Francisco, which lost Sunday at home to Carolina — the Seahawks are in position, as Wilson suggested, to be lasered in.