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Sunday, September 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: In a surreal start to 2020, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson answer some questions while running past Atlanta

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs for a first down against the host Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL game Sunday.  (John Bazemore)
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs for a first down against the host Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL game Sunday. (John Bazemore)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Were the Seahawks perfect in Atlanta on Sunday? Are they a finished product? We’re you impressed? If you didn’t feel comfortable answering yes to all those questions after their 38-25 win over the Falcons, that’s OK. There is really only one question you need to answer in the affirmative this morning. Is a road win better than a loss?

•••••••

• Sure it is. Yes, the Hawks’ defense showed some of the same issues up front it displayed all last season. And yes, when Russell Wilson had led them to a dominating second-half lead, Pete Carroll and Ken Norton took the pressure off, resulting in a couple of quick Atlanta scores. But despite yielding more passing yard than any NFL team yesterday, Seattle still dominated. On the road. In the early window.

It’s something that should be celebrated.

Until this afternoon some time. And then the Seahawks have to get back to work. New England, with its mobile, multi-dimensional quarterback (no one has written those words in the past 20 years) comes to town Sunday night.

And that’s just the start of a tough first couple months. But that’s for later. For now there is Sunday’s eye-opening victory.

Eye-opening? How about Wilson keeping a read-option in the first quarter and running for 28 yards? A fourth-down touchdown pass to DK Metcalf for 38 yards. Two touchdown passes to Chris Carson. Jamal Adams coming at the Falcons from all over the field. Bobby Wagner fourth in tackles.

OK, that last one is eye-opening in not the best way, but it is indicative of how the Hawks destroyed Atlanta’s game plan. The Falcons acquired Todd Gurley in the offseason and seemed poised to run the ball more in 2020. Then they fell behind early and all semblance of a run game melted away.

Six of the Hawks’ seven leading tacklers were defensive backs – Adams (12), Shaquill Griffin (7), Marquise Blair (7), Quinton Dunbar (6), Lano Hill (5) and Quandre Diggs (4) – indicative of a team forced to become one-dimensional.

That one dimension was pretty good – a team with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones isn’t going to be bad – but not enough to overcome what the Hawks, under head chef Wilson, brought to the table.

Sure, Seattle had trouble running the ball. The revamped offensive line had break downs. The Hawks’ front four rarely pressured Ryan. But no one in the NFL is perfect. It’s about being good enough. Sunday, Seattle was.

• So was Gardner Minshew. Actually, better than good enough. How else does one explain Jacksonville’s upset win over the Colts?

After all, the Jaguars have spent the past few months shedding talent. They seem to be hell-bent on improving their draft position, what with Trevor Lawrence dangling like a golden fleece in the next draft. And, after every star left, they ripped the organization and dissed their former teammates.

And there stands Minshew, the former Washington State star with the ugly (yes, I said it) facial hair and a quarantine haircut. The 2020 version of Bobby Layne – sans the Lone Star beer. Ready to prove to Leonard Fournette and everyone else each week he’s “really” a quarterback. He certainly was yesterday. And the Jags are 1-0.

Fournette, his real quarterback, Tom Brady, and the Bucs? They are 0-1. In the week-by-week NFL, that’s all that matters.

•••

WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college sports, despite many schools taking the fall off, there were top 25 polls announced today. I wonder how positive coronavirus tests at places like BYU impacted the polling. … It’s not a good time to be a fan of a Pac-12 football team.

Gonzaga: Another of the Zags’ targets in this recruiting cycle, Nathan Bittle, will announce his college choice Tuesday. It’s expected Bittle will pick either Oregon or Arizona.

Idaho: Vandals’ trainer Chris Walsh has earned a national award. That’s the beginning of this week’s local briefs.

Mariners: The M’s stayed in the hunt for a playoff spot with a win at Arizona, but they have a bunch of games left. It starts with a doubleheader today with the A’s, even if the air is still awful. … The pitching yesterday was not what the M’s hoped for. … Willie Mays was something special. Which makes Albert Pujols’ accomplishment yesterday – he hit his 660th home run, tying Mays for fifth all-time – something special too. … So was Alec Mills’ no-hitter.

Seahawks: It wasn’t a home opener, but John Blanchette has a game story and a column on Adams for the Hawks’ first game. … The odd nature of the game in an empty stadium didn’t stop the teams from making a statement. … It was Wilson’s game in a lot of ways. … By the way, Adams took some jabs at his former team, the Jets. … The Hawks earned some decent grades.  

Sounders: Portland lost again, this time to a struggling LAFC squad.

Storm: Seattle played without two starters yesterday and still dropped the No. 1 seed-deciding game to the Las Vegas Aces just 86-84. That means if the teams meet in the WNBA finals, the Aces will wear white more often.

•••       

• If you had a chance to watch any of the men’s U.S. Open five-set final last night, you saw two tennis players dragging themselves to the finish line. And the guy who seemed the worse for wear, Dominic Thiem, won. After falling down two sets to none. It was impressive. … If they had been scheduled to play in Spokane, the match wouldn’t have happened. Just like nothing I had scheduled for yesterday happened. And now it looks like nothing is going to be happening outside all week. Until later …

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