A sparkling variety of offensive weapons were unleashed around two big defensive plays that led to another dominant performance against a good team.
As unofficial civic holidays go, Seattle and the Seahawks threw themselves a lustful bash Thursday. Now everyone can take off an 80-degree Friday, fire up a cigarette/vape, and talk about it: Championship banners, concerts, celebrities and the pro football nation voyeuring in on the love fest.
Then the climax moment, a 36-16 domination of a good Green Bay Packers team in a rocked-out Clink, was both satisfying and a tease to something more.
The fan base “just is nuts and crazy and can’t get enough,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s just a perfect match.”
Before readers recommend getting a room, it should be noted that every other NFL city is saying, “We’ll have what they’re having.”
More pragmatically, what the day offered was evidence that the great apprehension is so far unwarranted: No Super Bowl hangover. Not only did the Seahawks win persuasively, they also screwed up enough that Carroll will have his necessary teachable moments.
What was most illuminating for viewers who haven’t seen the Seahawks since they made horsemeat stew in the Meadowlands was startling variety of offensive weapons unleashed on the bewildered Packers. RB Marshawn Lynch (110 yards on 20 carries) was even more than the Beast of yore, WR Percy Harvin (59 yards receiving, 41 rushing) was so spread over the field that he may have been even two or three players, and QB Russell Wilson (191 yards passing, 29 rushing) was in even more command of himself and his teammates.
They collectively reintroduced heavy use of the read option that repeatedly gashed the Packers.
“We could not stop the run,” said a disheartened Mike McCarthy, Packers coach. “Lynch had a huge night. The play-action and the plays off of that were effective, and they were able to hit some down-field throws.”
Carroll flashed some of the changes in preseason, but seeing the starters together to sustain it against a quality defense had to have been unsettling for the rest of the NFL that tuned in.
“I hope you guys enjoyed the variety of things in the way it looked, and the speed of it,” Carroll said. “It was a good night.”
As attention-grabbing as was the offense’s pyro party, Carroll, ever the defense-first coach, cited a stop as the evening’s highlight. In the third quarter when they led 20-10 but by no means had the game in hand, Seahawks DE Cliff Avril sacked QB Aaron Rodgers on a fourth-and-five play at the Seattle 41-yard line.
“That time was when we really had chance to let them keep going or not,” Carroll said. “That was the play that really gave us the the momentum.”
The Seahawks didn’t do anything with the midfield opportunity, but after punting Green Bay back to the the 10-yard line, the defense seized another moment. Rodgers was strip-sacked on a rollout by Michael Bennett, and the fumble squirted into the end zone where it became a safety.
After a personal foul on the play backed up the Packers on the kickoff, the Seahawks ambled 59 yards, the key plays a 10-yard pass to Harvin and 13-yard scramble by Wilson, to set up a three-yard touchdown by Lynch on the first play of the fourth quarter. At 29-10, the outcome was all but secured and the decibel festival was beginning to rot Packers brains.
The nine points set up by big defensive plays created a familiar scenario from 2013, when the offense was often presented with short-field opportunities.
In fact, stretches of the contest were mindful of a game in February. No Golden Tate, No Breno Giacomini, no Red Bryant . . . nobody noticed.
“We played a good opponent and you saw how our formula works out,” said tight end Zach Miller. “We want to run the football and be smart when we throw it. Russell did a great job of that.”
Not that anyone would add scores from separate seasons, but the cumulative score of the past two games is 79-26. On a civic holiday, some of the rules are relaxed.