SEATTLE – Now, with 15 days until their next game, the Seahawks will scatter, the bye week giving everyone a few days to return home.
“I’m going to get back in the country, man,” said safety Earl Thomas, who plans to head back to his native Orange, Texas. “This is too much city for me right now. Got to get back to my roots and enjoy my family.”
But the path to what the team hopes is its ultimate destination this season seems clearer than ever after a feel-good 41-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in front of 68,235 at CenturyLink Field.
The win was Seattle’s 13th in a row at home, setting a team record, and left the Seahawks at 10-1 on the season, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Saints for the best record in the NFC and a staggering 3 1/2 games ahead of the suddenly flailing 49ers in the NFC West.
“I think our expectations have been exceeded, actually,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “But we’ve got a long ways to go, obviously. We want to get to playing in February (the Super Bowl).”
That seemed as realistic as at any point this year on Sunday after the Seahawks dominated in just about every way imaginable. To cite a few highlights:
• Receiver Percy Harvin, making his Seahawks debut, showed what all the fuss has been about with a highlight-reel one-handed catch to set up one touchdown in the second quarter and a 58-yard kickoff return to set up another. He touched the ball only those two times, but it proved more than enough on this day.
• Russell Wilson, working for only the second full game this season behind his starting offensive line, completed 13 of 18 passes for 230 yards and had a career-high passer rating of 151.4.
• Marshawn Lynch scored a season-high three touchdowns, including one on a somewhat improvised toss from Wilson.
• The defense held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries while also forcing four turnovers, including Walter Thurmond’s 29-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
• And the special teams contained Minnesota’s vaunted return game.
Coach Pete Carroll was so excited after the win that he said he’d rather the Seahawks didn’t have a bye right now.
“I don’t think it comes at a great time because we’d like to keep playing, to tell you the truth,” Carroll said.
Certainly, Seattle seemed ready from the beginning of this one, unlike more sluggish efforts a few weeks ago that resulted in close shaves against the Rams and Tampa Bay.
Cliff Avril forced a Christian Ponder fumble on Minnesota’s first possession that led to a field goal, and a Lynch touchdown run put Seattle up 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.
After the one lone moment of angst – a Ponder 38-yard touchdown to Jarius Wright early in the second quarter that tied the game at 10 – Harvin made his official hello to Seattle.
On a third-and-10 play, he reeled in a Wilson pass with one hand for a 17-yard gain to put Seattle at the Minnesota 39 with 8:50 left.
“It’s just fun to watch him,” marveled Thomas. “You can tell why we did all that to get him.”
That led to a Lynch touchdown that put Seattle ahead for good, 17-10.
After a Minnesota field goal, Harvin made his debut as a kick returner. Carroll had planned to ease Harvin – who hadn’t played since Nov. 4, 2012 when he was with Minnesota and missed the first 10 Seattle games this season after having hip surgery Aug. 1 – back into action, and wanted to hold him out of kickoff returning.
But with regular returner Jermaine Kearse out with a concussion, Harvin got his chance and returned it 58 yards.
“I just wanted to stay calm and just play within the system and let the plays come to me,” Harvin said.
That set up a Wilson-to-Baldwin 19-yard pass that made it 24-13 Seattle at halftime, tying the most points the Seahawks have scored in a half this season.
After a scoreless third quarter, Seattle turned it into a rout with 17 points in a span of 3:02, all set up, or scored, by interceptions.
Thomas joked later that the onslaught was the proverbial dam breaking.
“It broke,” he said. “Water, it flooded. I was sad they took me out of the game at the end because you want to be part of that quarter.”
Thomas and the Seahawks, though, know they now have a great chance to be part of something even bigger.
Their next game is Dec. 2 against the Saints, giving Seattle a chance to take a commanding lead in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC, and all that that entails.
And with Harvin finally in the fold, the offensive line again intact, and the defense mostly whole, the Seahawks could hardly have hoped to enter the bye week any better.
“We are in a great position right now,” Baldwin said. “We’ve been able to endure the adversity and the obstacles that we had to face earlier in the season with the injuries. Now we’re getting healthy and it’s going to be a fun ride.”
Sea—FG Hauschka 50
Min—FG Walsh 32
Sea—Lynch 4 run (Hauschka kick)
Min—Wright 38 pass from Ponder (Walsh kick)
Sea—Lynch 1 run (Hauschka kick)
Min—FG Walsh 45
Sea—Baldwin 19 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick)
Sea—Lynch 6 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick)
Sea—Thurmond 29 interception return (Hauschka kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 26
Min—Wright 21 pass from Cassel (Walsh kick)
|Total Net Yards||336||323|
|Time of Poss.||34:09||25:51|
RUSHING—Minnesota, Gerhart 7-67, Peterson 21-65, Ponder 5-0. Seattle, Lynch 17-54, Turbin 7-17, Wilson 2-14, Michael 1-9, Jackson 1-(minus 1).
PASSING—Minnesota, Ponder 13-22-2-129, Cassel 5-13-1-78. Seattle, Wilson 13-18-0-230, Jackson 1-3-0-6.
RECEIVING—Minnesota, Carlson 5-69, Wright 3-69, Patterson 3-28, Felton 2-13, Jo.Webb 2-9, Ford 1-11, Gerhart 1-7, Simpson 1-1. Seattle, Miller 4-69, Baldwin 2-63, Lynch 2-9, Lockette 1-27, Tate 1-26, Harvin 1-17, Turbin 1-12, Willson 1-7, Robinson 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.