For the third week in a row, the Seahawks delivered a beat down. Except this one was a little bit different. It wasn’t against a hopeless Cardinals outfit, or a Bills team going through the motions. This was on a whole different level.
This was a division rival. A ten-win division rival and the current division champions. A team that beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in their own back yard last week. That were placed by many as the NFL’s #1 in several national power rankings. This was the San Francisco 49ers on Jim Harbaugh’s 49th birthday.
Happy Birthday, Jim. And Merry Christmas, too.
Enough of that. Tonight’s all about the Seahawks. This was an opportunity to make a statement to the nation. The TV camera’s were in Century Link and all eyes were on the NFC West. Seattle’s message was, bluntly, “You don’t want to play us in the post season.” Message received, loud and clear.
It was a perfect evening for this franchise. Let’s list the reasons why…
– The fans showed once again that nobody is louder, that the true 12th man lives in the Pacific North West. Colin Kaepernick was visibly confused, used two time-outs in the first quarter and suffered multiple delay-of-game penalties. The 12th man helped Seattle set the tone early and set the stall for a one-sided affair.
– Russell Wilson made his greatest statement yet that he should be offensive rookie of the year with four touchdown passes. He wasn’t perfect, but he was playing one of the best defenses in the NFL. It all looks so easy to him – a testament to his work ethic, preparation and talent. This team has a franchise quarterback.
– Marshawn Lynch was in full-on beast mode. He has three 100-yard games against the 49ers since 2010. The rest of the NFL has two 100-yard games against the 49ers. He’s the most productive running back in the league not named Adrian Peterson.
– Red Bryant had a key blocked field goal that probably goes down as the play of the game. It made a likely 14-3 lead a 21-0 advantage instead. That was a huge turning point.
– Two Stanford players had big days against their former head coach. Richard Sherman returned the aforementioned blocked field goal for a touchdown and added a red-zone interception in the second half. Doug Baldwin scored twice and led the team for receiving yards. Neither display was a coincidence and the Seahawks visibly fed the ball to Baldwin. Sherman has seven interceptions for the season now – only Chicago’s Tim Jennings has more.
– Aldon Smith, chasing the NFL sack record, was a complete non-factor. The offensive line was again superb as a unit, but Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini deserve a special mention. Okung is a sure-fire Pro-Bowler based on his performances this year. Giacomini continues to play far better than anyone’s prepared to give him credit for. Over the last few weeks, you’ll struggle to convince me there’s been a better right tackle in the league.
– Seattle’s 42 points means they’ve averaged exactly 50 in their last three games. Who’d have believed that after the first few weeks?
– This is the fourth time a team has left Century Link Field not just beaten physically, but also emotionally. You could visibly see the life draining out of San Francisco’s players and coaches as the game continued. The same happened to Dallas, the New York Jets and Arizona.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider inherited a joke of a team in 2010. There were no building blocks on either side of the ball. No identity. The only thing left over from the Tim Ruskell era? An extra first round pick that turned into Earl Thomas. Aside from that one parting gift, they had nothing to work with.
In three seasons, this team has made the post-season twice. That is an underrated and incredible feat. The Seahawks suddenly have multiple cornerstone and franchise players. They’ve found a legit quarterback in round three, a shutdown corner in round five and a superstar running back via a steal of a trade. Then there’s the rest.
This team means business. Tonight was the exclamation point. Bring on the Rams and then the playoffs. Fear nobody.