Blanchette: Seahawks play smashmouth, leave Dallas bruised
SEATTLE – The big chuckle of the National Football League’s opening weekend was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones being caught on camera delegating the cleaning of his glasses to a minion.
It actually turned out to be his son-in-law. Maybe it was a condition of staying in the will.
Well, once again on Sunday, Jer couldn’t make out a thing for all the splotches.
Except those were his players, who were still being scraped and squeegeed off the deck at CenturyLink Field while the Seattle Seahawks were uncorking the afterglow of their 27-7 upset.
Nevertheless, clean specs or not, surely Owner Jones couldn’t have believed what he was seeing:
His mega-time All-Pro tight end, Jason Witten, dropping passes he must have presumed were radioactive.
His special teams, being made to look like leftovers from Portland State’s visit to the Clink on Saturday, spotting the home team two scores.
Maybe the NFL’s most feared defender, DeMarcus Ware, reduced to a play-reactor rather than a playmaker.
And the rest of the Cowboys pushed around and plowed under by a Seattle team that apparently took the humiliation of a season-opening loss at Arizona as motivation to gamble a stamp on a Charles Atlas dynamic tension program, or something.
Yikes. What a smackdown.
And, no, we’re not talking about the Golden Tate hit. But let’s.
The wicked T-boning the Seahawks receiver laid on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee as quarterback Russell Wilson was scrambling for a first down early in the fourth quarter didn’t just rock Lee and the house of 68,008. It’ll also be seen as the defining moment of the season if this victory launches Seattle toward anything of note.
“Now I see why Kam (Chancellor) likes defense,” Tate grinned. “Man, it felt great. That felt better than a touchdown to me.”
He might feel it in the wallet today if the NFL decides Lee was a defenseless animal, though the flag on the play was not on him but an even more preposterous late hit on the Cowboys. Dallas coach Jason Garrett seemed to be lobbying for some punishment of Tate afterward, though just how the mere ferocity of a hit makes it illegal in and of itself is a curious question.
But the fact is, the Seahawks were more about manhandling than mayhem this day.
In fact, the real defining moments were the back-to-back touchdown drives of 90 and 88 yards in the second half, in which running back Marshawn Lynch and the mule team in front of him were a symphony of what makes a winner in the NFL.
“Fast, physical and smart,” said fullback Michael Robinson, “that’s us.”
It was an interesting transformation. The Seahawks had just 33 yards rushing in the first half and without those special-team gifts would likely have trailed at intermission. But digging down for a remarkable burst of second effort, Lynch turned a stop at the line of scrimmage on the first play of the second half into a 16-yard gain, and by game’s end he had 122 of Seattle’s 182 yards on the ground.
“That’s how it goes in the NFL,” said center Max Unger. “If you run the ball and run the ball, you’re going to pop big runs. The twos turn into fours, and the fours into eights.”
Which is not to say the Seahawks lack for finesse. Much of that seems to be bottled up in the pocket-sized rookie quarterback.
Wilson was nothing more than what he had to be Sunday: 15 completions in 20 throws, a touchdown, good decisions, better leadership. On one amazing play, he somehow flicked a pass to tight end Anthony McCoy while being swallowed whole by Ware on a blitz.
“Russell brings another dimension to our offense,” Tate said. “At any moment, he can take off and make a play and that makes it difficult on a defense. A defense doesn’t game plan every single play, ‘Be ready for the quarterback to run.’ You can’t do it.”
Coach Pete Carroll’s assessment was more new-agey.
“I thought he played a really cool football game for us,” said Ground Pete.
It would be cooler still if the Seahawks can keep this sort of thing up, this identity as the tougher, more physical team with just enough flash to keep it fun. There’s just one problem: the schedule.
Four of Seattle’s next six games are on the road, including two trips to the Eastern time zone – always the Seahawks’ favorite thing. The home games are against Green Bay and New England. They can be as tough as they want and still be lucky to get out of that stretch .500.
But maybe they can be more than lucky.
“I know this,” Jones said, “they imposed their will on us today.”
That’s 20-20 vision, from the man with the cleanest glasses in the NFL.