SEATTLE – With one explosive play after another in the second half, the Seahawks quickly blew up all the angst they had built up in their fan base in the first half.
Surprisingly behind at halftime to an injury-riddled Indianapolis team that was almost a two-touchdown underdog, Seattle used its best two quarters of the season to turn the game into the hoped-for feel-good rout, beating the Colts 46-18.
The Seahawks improved to 2-2 as they now prepare for an early NFC West showdown next Sunday at the surprising 3-1 Los Angeles Rams.
Seattle trailed 15-10 at the break, and was outgained 205-140 in a mistake-filled half that ended in fitting fashion on a missed Blair Walsh field goal.
But if it seemed lifeless in the first half, Seattle was simply electric in the second with touchdown drives of 85, 75, 74 and 84 sandwiching a fumble return for a touchdown by Bobby Wagner, giving the Seahawks 29 points in the span of 13 minutes, 19 seconds.
Seattle outgained the Colts 180-11 in the third quarter with the only blemish an interception off the hands of Jimmy Graham that led to a Colts’ field goal.
While quarterback Russell Wilson was at the center of the outburst, giving the Seahawks their first score of the second half on a 23-yard run and completing 21 of 26 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns, the Seahawks also got contributions from an unlikely cast of characters.
Backup cornerback Justin Coleman had a 28-yard return of an interception for Seattle’s only touchdown in the first half, and the Seahawks got a 30-yard touchdown run from backup tailback J.D. McKissic on his first carry of the season in the third quarter. A forced fumble by backup defensive end Marcus Smith led to a Bobby Wagner scoop-and-score touchdown 13 seconds later that blew the game open.
McKissic added one more touchdown on a nifty 27-yard catch in the end zone for Seattle’s final score in what was the most points for Seattle since a 50-17 win at Buffalo in December 2012.
The victory was marred by Seattle injuries. Maybe most heart-wrenching was a leg injury suffered by rookie running back Chris Carson in the fourth quarter. Carson was carted off the field with teammates pouring out to console him.
Defensive starters Jeremy Lane (hip) and Cliff Avril (neck) also left early with injuries of unknown severity.
The Seahawks got the ball first to start the third quarter as CenturyLink Field stirred with uncommon silence and pessimism.
But Wilson quickly led Seattle down the field and his 23-yard touchdown run – which came as he exploited a wide-open middle of the field on third-and-10 – capped an 84-yard drive that started the onslaught.
The Colts were then called for illegal formation on the point after touchdown and Seattle decided to go for two with the ball moved to the 1. Wilson then tossed to a wide open Doug Baldwin to make it 18-15 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out, Seattle got the ball back.
On a third-down play, Wilson tried to hit an open Graham on a slant. But the ball went off Graham’s hands and to Indianapolis safety Malik Hooker, who returned it to the 24.
The Seahawks held but Adam Vinatieri kicked a 40-yard field goal to tie it at 18 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
Seattle quickly regained the lead on a quick 75-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard run by McKissic, who was active only because C.J. Prosise was sidelined with an ankle injury.
And even more quickly, the Seahawks then finally seized control when Smith forced a fumble by Brissett on the Colts’ first play of their next possession with middle linebacker Wagner picking up the ball and scooting 21 yards through traffic for the touchdown.
That put Seattle up 32-18 with 1:59 left in the third.
Another long drive led to a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Luke Willson early in the fourth quarter. The rout was on and the worrying over.
The first half was a disaster for the Seahawks save for one play – Coleman’s interception return that put Seattle up 10-2.
Coleman was playing due to an injury to Lane, who hurt his hip on the first series of the game and did not return.
Coleman stepped in front of an out-route pass thrown by Brissett – who was Coleman’s teammate with the Patriots last year until each was traded shortly before the season – and raced untouched for the score.
The game started somewhat promisingly for Seattle when a 27-yard pass from Wilson to Baldwin set up a 44-yard field goal by Walsh to make it 3-0 following the team’s first possession.
But the Seahawks otherwise could do little on offense the rest of the half against a defense that came into the game ranked 29th in the NFL, allowing 369.3 yards per game.
On Seattle’s second possession, the Seahawks started at their own 1. On third down from the Colts 6, Indianapolis’ Nate Hairston rushed on a delayed corner blitz.
Wilson tried to get rid of the ball as he fell to the turf and the play was initially ruled an incompletion.
But on what was the first of three plays the Colts would challenge in the half – and win – the ruling was overturned and Indianapolis was awarded a safety, making it 3-2.
Coleman’s interception appeared to indicate the hoped-for, if not expected, rout was on.
Instead, Brissett quickly settled himself and led a 12-play, 80-yard drive that got the Colts right back in it. The drive was aided by two Seattle penalties, including a holding call on Richard Sherman on third down.
Former Seahawk Robert Turbin scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run for his first score at CenturyLink Field –he played for Seattle from 2012-14.
The Colts then created another break with their defense when safety Matthias Farley tipped a pass intended for Graham and then controlled it as he tiptoed on the sideline .
That gave the Colts the ball at their 45 and they then used nine plays to drive for another touchdown, the score coming on an 18-yard pass from Brissett to Donte Moncrief with 25 seconds left that put Indianapolis up 15-10.
The Colts outgained Seattle 205-140 in the first half and held the ball for 19:56.
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