ATLANTA – As the Seahawks quieted the Georgia Dome Sunday, they also sent maybe their loudest message yet about what this season can be.
“It’s a great statement across the board,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks ran through, passed over and shut down Atlanta 33-10 in a rematch of their divisional playoff loss to the Falcons here last January.
Indeed, Carroll and many of Seattle’s players later called it their most complete game of the season as they led from start to finish, gained a season-high 490 yards (including 211 rushing, their second-most this year) and held Atlanta to 226, the third-fewest they have allowed.
The blowout came in the wake of two closer-than-expected wins over St. Louis and Tampa Bay, performances that the Seahawks realized were good enough for now, but not good enough to achieve their lofty goals – games that Carroll said led to a little bit of soul-searching during the week.
“And the guys answered the call,” Carroll said.
Seattle scored on seven of its first eight drives and blew the game open with a 17-point explosion in the final 5:33 of the first half that included a highlight-reel double-pass touchdown from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, and a similarly memorable one-handed scoring grab by Golden Tate.
They then put it away with a grinding second half in which Marshawn Lynch gained 78 of his season-high 145 yards while the defense ensured the Falcons never made it a game.
“Although last week we were 8-1, we felt like we could play so much better,” said Tate, who led Seattle with 106 yards receiving on six catches. “And we still feel like we can play so much better, and I think that’s important. We’re excited for the future. We have something special, now we want to consistently play this type of ballgame – dominating the run game and showing up big in the passing game.”
Seattle’s defense, after allowing 405 yards rushing against the Rams and Bucs, held Atlanta to 64, limiting Steven Jackson to just 11 on nine carries.
Linebacker K.J. Wright said Carroll held “a little private meeting” with the defense this week in which he told the players that “this run thing, it’s got to get corrected. … Let’s get this done and show who we are.”
Safety Earl Thomas said the tough love was welcomed.
“Of course,” he said. “Because the coaches expect a lot out of us, and they should. We have a great group so you definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity because you never know what could happen next year or whenever. We got back to our football ways, like swarming to the ball.”
Seattle also got four field goals from Steven Hauschka, who is 22 for 23 this season. His first two kicks made it 6-0 before the Falcons managed their only scoring drive of the first half to cut the lead to 6-3 with 6:30 to play in the second quarter.
Lynch, though, then ran 37 yards to the Atlanta 43. Then he took a pitch out and ran left before stopping and passing back to Wilson, who then found Kearse in the end zone.
Wilson said an earlier pitchout to Lynch had convinced them the play would work.
“The key was the run sell,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to sell the run; it doesn’t work if you don’t do that.”
Atlanta punted and Seattle responded with Hauschka’s third field goal of the half.
Atlanta punted again and Tate returned it from the Seattle 8 to the 40 with 1:03 left. Seattle went into its hurry-up offense and reached the 6-yard line with 8 seconds left, where on third down Wilson threw to Tate on a fade route, who cradled the ball in with one hand while getting both feet barely inbounds.
That made it 23-3, and more than a few of the listed attendance of 70,309 headed out for a sunny Atlanta afternoon.
Sea—FG Hauschka 39
Sea—FG Hauschka 43
Atl—FG Bryant 53
Sea—Kearse 43 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 44
Sea—Tate 6 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 53
Atl—D.Johnson 12 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick)
Sea—Lynch 1 run (Hauschka kick)
|Total Net Yards||490||226|
|Time of Poss.||35:30||24:30|
RUSHING—Seattle, Lynch 24-145, Michael 8-33, Wilson 3-20, Turbin 7-13. Atlanta, Rodgers 3-31, Ryan 3-15, Jackson 9-11, Snelling 1-7.
PASSING—Seattle, Wilson 19-26-0-287. Atlanta, Ryan 23-36-0-172.
RECEIVING—Seattle, Tate 6-106, Baldwin 5-76, Kearse 3-75, Lynch 3-16, Willson 1-19, Turbin 1-(minus 5). Atlanta, Douglas 7-49, Rodgers 5-28, Gonzalez 3-29, Snelling 3-25, Jackson 3-9, White 1-20, D.Johnson 1-12.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.