Afterward, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas paid the Seattle offense about the biggest compliment he can.
“It’s fun to see,’’ he said, after a blazing offensive attack led a 34-6 exhibition season victory over the Chicago Bears on Friday night at CenturyLink Field. “They are growing up right before our eyes. They are just as good as us.’’
That’s been one of the goals of the Seattle offense this season — to be able to match a defense that is generally considered the best in the NFL, something Thomas and the rest of the defenders are rarely shy at pointing out.
“Man, they’ve got a lot of great players over there,’’ Thomas said. “These guys are in it and you’ve got to give them that respect.’’
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True, as receiver Doug Baldwin and a few others noted, it’s merely the exhibition season.
Still, the third game of the preseason is the one that is regarded as a dress rehearsal, the closest thing to the real thing in the NFL.
And the Seattle offense proved more than ready for prime time while its first unit was on the field, scoring touchdowns the first four times it had the ball as the Seahawks took a 31-0 lead by halftime.
“The only one that can stop us is us,’’ said left tackle Russell Okung. “I think the sky is the limit for our group.’’
The defense and special teams contributed as well, with two long returns helping set up scores and Steven Hauschka kicking a career-best 59-yard field goal.
But this was largely a showcase for an offense that with Russell Wilson in his third year, a healthy Percy Harvin, and a maturing line, has created optimism throughout training camp that it could be better than it was in 2013.
“Offensively, as a whole, we are going to be more explosive, which is saying a lot,’’ Baldwin said.
Only the clock prevented the Seahawks from scoring touchdowns on all five first-half possessions.
Even that, though, turned into a highlight as Hauschka booted his 59-yarder as time ran out to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Wilson looked in midseason form, completing 13 of 17 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns with a 147.7 passer rating (a perfect score is 158.3) in the first half.
Wilson was 4 of 4 passing on third downs as Seattle converted all seven third downs in the first half — three going for touchdowns.
One of those third-down conversions went to Harvin, a short pass he turned into a 25-yard gain on a night when his potential impact was on full display.
Harvin returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to set up a drive that ended in a 7-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch, who had three carries for 16 yards on the drive — his first, and likely only, carries of the exhibition season.
Wilson then scored on a 7-yard run to make it 14-0, threw a 12-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse to make it 21-0, and a 7-yarder to Christine Michael to put Seattle up 28-0 — all plays coming on third down.
Wilson spread the ball around to eight receivers with Kearse leading the way with 63 yards on four receptions.
Seattle had 17 first downs in the first half and had 85 yards rushing on 19 attempts, led by the 26 of Michael on seven attempts.
The defense and special teams also had their moments.
With Seattle up 21-0, a 59-yard punt return by Thomas, the team’s starting free safety who has said he desperately wants the job of replacing Golden Tate, led to Michael’s touchdown.
And then, after the Bears drove to within a half-yard of a touchdown, Jeremy Lane picked off a Jay Cutler pass with 15 seconds left in the half to end the threat, with a 41-yard return setting up Hauschka’s field goal.
“Today was beautiful,’’ said Thomas. “The magic just happened today.’’
It might be more than that, though, as the Seahawks appear to be doing most things right.
Coach Pete Carroll noted that the starters have been called for just two penalties in the past two games
“Really, the first groups again played really good football,’’ Carroll said. “We are moving the ball on offense and making things happen, and the defense is stopping them and getting off the field.’’
Seattle is 2-1 in the exhibition season, which concludes with a game at Oakland on Thursday.
The Seahawks open the regular season against Green Bay on Sept. 4 at CenturyLink Field, a night the Super Bowl banner will be raised, and the quest for a repeat will begin in earnest.