It was Throwback Sunday for the Seahawks in Detroit.
176 yards rushing. Perfect quarterback rating. No turnovers, and three by the opponents, who had less than 15 points and fewer than 50 yards rushing.
The Glory Days, Part Deux.
Except that all anyone wanted to talk about — actually, the better phrase: “giggle about” — was rookie punter Michael Dickson’s fourth-quarter run from the end zone to a first down. It was as unplanned as a puppy’s first encounter with a stairwell, and just as amusing.
“You mean the Aussie sweep?” said his grinning coach, Pete Carroll. He feigned that some sort of plan was afoot when the Australian, apparently unaccustomed to American football protocols, broke about two dozen of them in his nine-yard dash around right end that stunned the Lions, the Seahawks and fans in two countries.
“The intent was to take a safety,” Carroll said, bringing things down to snicker level. “I don’t know if you could see it, but Michael was smiling as he turned the corner. He knew he could make the first down. Incredibly beautiful play.”
Smiles were not confined to the man from Down Under going over the top.
The Seahawks’ 28-14 triumph (box) over the Lions was not just a road win over a team that earlier had beaten the Patriots and Packers. It was a validation for all the off-season maneuvers that generated generated controversy, anxiety, skepticism and trepidation about the post-Legion Seahawks.
The glow of validation fairly radiated from Carroll.
“I like our team,” he said. “I like what’s going on. I like how they feel about it. We’re totally clear; there’s no mystery how it gets done. We’re not going to fool anybody.”
So if success is not founded on disguise and surprise, then what is it? Imposition of will. As it was in the heyday of back-to-back Super Bowl appearances for Seattle. Doing your stuff better, smarter and harder than the other guys do their stuff.
The offensive and defensive lines won the game.
The O-line was given orders for what turned into 42 rushes for 176 yards (4.2 ypc). That meant the Seahawks needed to throw only 17 times. The 14 completions produced 237 yards, mostly because the Lions had no choice but to have single coverage on receivers, who didn’t need much separation because Wilson had time in the pocket to be precise. He completed his first 10 passes, a personal best.
The smooth efficiency over the past six games resulted in only three turnovers.
“He played a great football game today,” said Carroll of Wilson. “A beautiful game. He took advantage of the game plan. When you run the ball like this, you get (237) yards over the top.”
The Seahawks even managed to work in TE Ed Dickson, the veteran free agent playing his first Seattle game after a long injury hiatus. His first reception was a 12-yard TD from Wilson just before the half, followed in the third quarter by a 42-yard catch-and-run that caught the Lions unprepared for the alleged blocker who turned into a primary receiver.
The D-line helped hold the invigorated Lions rushing game to 34 yards, including 22 on eight carries for rookie RB star Kerryon Johnson. Against the Rams, the Seahawks held Todd Gurley to 72 yards in 22 carries. QB Matthew Stafford needed 40 passes to get to 310 yards, most of it underneath routes that defenders contained with open-field wrap-ups.
“The defense senses our commitment to the running game,” Carroll said. “The (Lions) have to take care of that. It gives us a chance to throw over the top. You can talk about all the other stuff, but they were held to (34 yards) today for a team that wants to run the football. It starts with (DTs Jarran Reed and Shamar Stephen). We didn’t do anything special today, just played our scheme and did the stuff we wanted to do.
“(Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright) are the beneficiaries of all their dirty work. The (D-line) is really good at it.”
Not counting the final-minute possession of the second period, the Seahawks scored TDs on the final three of four first-half possessions for a 21-7 halftime lead that limited what the Lions could do offensively the rest of the way.
Detroit did pull together an 85-yard drive for a score inside the final four minutes. After forcing a three-and-out, the Lions were ready to make things anxious for the visitors. That’s when Dickson, with 2:18 left, made his dash that opened his candidacy for the Punters Hall of Fame.
“Yeah, I’ve got big balls,” he told reporters. “They call me Big Balls Dickson.”
Carroll was a tad more elegant.
“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “I can’t love a play more than that. He went against tradition and old thinking. He saw a situation and took advantage of it. It was truly a surprise.
“Last week in London, I mentioned to him: ‘Sometimes you just gotta take off and go.’ Little did I know next time out . . . ”
The 4-3 Seahawks have won four of their past five, and five of the first seven have been on the road. They get the Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) at home next Sunday, but Carroll didn’t seem concerned about venue or foe.
“Doesn’t matter where we play right now,” he said. “We’re playing how we want.”
Back to the future.