On Thursday night, the Seahawks picked up where they left off. Which is bad news for the rest of the NFL, because where they left off was in a dominating Super Bowl win that left no doubt that Seattle was the league’s best team.
The 36-16 victory over the Packers that kicked off the NFL season had some common elements with the final game of the previous season. Just as in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks took one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks (then Peyton Manning, this time Aaron Rodgers) and humbled them with impunity. Just as in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks’ frazzled opponent surrendered a safety. And just as in the Super Bowl, Percy Harvin added a dynamic element to Seattle’s offense that elevated it from efficient to explosive.
The game was close for a while (Green Bay led, 7-3, after the first quarter) that must have had Packers fans relieved. But once Seattle started to pull away in the second half, it was easy to look back and credit that early competitiveness to a rare Seahawks miscue — an Earl Thomas fumble on a punt return in Seahawks territory — more than anything Green Bay was doing.
What Seattle began doing was the stuff we’d seen from them last season that was so successful. Harvin (who sat out most of the 2013 season with injury) aside, the Seahawks steamrolled the Packers on the ground with Marshawn Lynch, who rumbled for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Russell Wilson showed why he is considered at least the equal of the two heralded quarterbacks picked atop his 2012 draft class, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, completing 19 of 28 passes for two scores and zero interceptions.
Wilson benefitted from imaginative play-calling on his two touchdown passes; the first came off of a read-option, where the quarterback kept the ball long enough to lure up a defender before flipping it to a wide-open Ricardo Lockette, and the second resulted from play-action, with Wilson finding a fullback Derrick Coleman, who was similarly open.
Oh, and no discussion of Seahawks excellence would be complete without this guy:
— NFL (@nfl) September 5, 2014
In fairness, the Packers basically sacrificed their No. 3 wide receiver, Jarrett Boykin, by having him run all the pass routes that led to the side of the field Sherman was covering. But, of course, that made it easier for the Seahawks to roll other pass defenders toward the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and the inability of Rodgers to utilize all of his weapons surely hindered his attempts to stage a second-half comeback.
Green Bay entered the season feeling like a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and it still should, considering it’s only Week 1. But the Packers learned first-hand what the rest of the league likely did while watching on TV — the Seahawks are more than ready to defend their crown.