Rookie plays hard in debut to send message to opponents.
The first defensive play of Aaron Curry’s NFL career ended with a shoving match against Rams running back Steven Jackson.
The second play concluded with Curry depositing St. Louis guard Jacob Bell on his keister.
Consider it a strong message from a strong man. Seattle’s rookie linebacker is 254 pounds of bad intentions until the whistle blows.
“Just letting them know that this defense, we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “No matter what you do, we’re going to be here for 60 minutes.”
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For the first 15 minutes of Seattle’s 28-0 victory over St. Louis, that defense was the only reason the Seahawks were in the game because the offense was doing its very best to hand the lead directly to St. Louis.
Two of Matt Hasselbeck’s first eight passes were intercepted, and the Seahawks’ first three possessions resulted in three turnovers and no points. That’s usually a death sentence in the NFL, but the Seahawks’ defense dug in its heels and bought the offense time to sort itself out.
“That’s the reason that we were able to put it together,” Hasselbeck said. “We kept getting the chances.”
Hasselbeck finished the game with three touchdown passes, two of them to tight end John Carlson, and running back Julius Jones ran for 117 yards, which included a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Jones’ run was the knockout punch, but it was set up by the body blows Seattle’s defense delivered. St. Louis got inside the red zone just twice, the first resulting in a 37-yard field-goal attempt Josh Brown missed in the second quarter and a fourth-quarter drive in which the Rams turned the ball over on downs.
“We just stayed together,” defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. “We had a lot of adversity on the field and we just stayed together.”
They stayed aggressive, too, especially Curry. Leroy Hill suffered a groin injury in the first half and didn’t return, Lofa Tatupu’s hamstring tightened up in the second half and he left the game — though that was more precautionary — but Curry stayed on the field, his motor revving as opponents overheated.
Jackson was called for a personal foul at the end of the first half because of something he did to Curry.
“He was angry at the world,” Curry said. “He was mad at the whole defense.”
Coach Jim Mora said the referee came over at least three times, telling him to have No. 59 calm down.
“But every time I talked to him on the sideline, he was very calm,” Mora said of Curry. “He wasn’t frenzied. He wasn’t out of his mind. He was in control. He just plays with a passion, energy and emotion and speed.”
Curry played with a purpose Sunday.
“We were referred to as being soft,” Curry said. “So we’ve got to change our image.”
Sunday was a step in that direction. For the past two years, the onus has been on the defense to show the results of its offseason upgrades.
The Seahawks have used three of their past four first-round picks on defensive players and signed big-budget free agents like defensive end Patrick Kerney and safety Deon Grant.
The hope was to create a defense capable of performances like this one, which was Seattle’s first shutout since Nov. 12, 2007 when Seattle beat San Francisco 24-0.
“The best part about it was how many different guys made big plays to create that shutout,” Kerney said.
Seattle had three sacks, each by a different player: Tatupu, Mebane and Lawrence Jackson, the 2008 first-round pick who played very well in the first game of his second season.
Curry finished the game with four tackles, but his impact was best measured by the statement he made in his first game as a Seahawk which was physical from the first play to the final whistle.
“We just wanted them to know, no matter how hard you push us, we’re going to be here,” Curry said.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org