INDIANAPOLIS — The essence of the Seahawks’ new offense, which Seattle finally unveiled in spectacular fashion in a 28-16 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday, is deception.
“We want to keep the defense guessing,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “We want to constantly have them question who’s getting the ball, where it’s going, what were they doing. And we were able to do that tonight.”
Indeed, a Colts team that won 11 games last season, ranking in the top 10 defensively in both points and yards allowed, often didn’t seem to know what had just hit them.
If the Colts weren’t feeling blindsided by one of Wilson’s two “moon-ball” touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett of 69 and 23 yards, they were left simply shaking their heads at his more comparatively mundane 9-yard touchdown toss to tight end Gerald Everett, or what coach Pete Carroll called “about as perfect as you can do it,’’ a 15-yard scoring toss to DK Metcalf.
It added up to an almost perfect day for Wilson in his first game working with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron as he completed 18 of 23 passes for four touchdowns and 254 yards and a passer rating of 152.3, the second highest of his career.
And it left Carroll sounding positively giddy afterward at the possibilities for the Seahawks in 2021.
“We haven’t done all our stuff,” Carroll said of the offense. “There’s a lot to come.”
And the Seahawks on Sunday also showed that when the game became just an old-fashioned slugfest, they could excel at that too.
After Lockett’s two touchdowns helped give Seattle a 21-10 halftime lead, the Seahawks’ offense hit a lull, going punt, punt, fumble, punt. And it was then that the defense simply hit the Colts in the mouth on two plays that assured the Seahawks never lost control of the game.
After a Chris Carson fumble, the Colts drove to Seattle’s 31, deciding to go for it on fourth-and-one. The play never had a chance as Jamal Adams leapt over the pile to lead a Seattle defensive charge that seemed to unnerve Indy quarterback Carson Wentz, who fumbled the snap. Seattle cornerback D.J. Reed recovered to keep Seattle ahead 21-10.
Adams said he guessed Wentz, playing his first game with the Colts after his celebrated trade from the Eagles in the offseason, would call his own number based on having played against him a few times before.
“That’s one of his go-tos,” Adams said. “… I got his back leg a little bit so he fumbled.”
Wentz later took the blame saying, “I was trying to run before I even got the ball. That was a frustrating one.”
A possession later, after a Seattle punt, the Colts drove to the Seattle 18 where they again decided to go for it on fourth-and-two. And this time, they had Wentz lined up in a shotgun.
The play again never had a chance as Seattle second-year linebacker Darrell Taylor, playing his first NFL game, spun by Colts right tackle Braden Smith to sack Wentz and keep Seattle’s lead at 11 with 9:56 left.
The play compelled Colts fans to begin leaving and Adams to wave at them as they did.
“’Make sure you all beat the traffic on your way out,'” Adams said was his message to Colts fans. “It was exciting just to see them go home. Obviously, as a defense, we love to see that. Coming into a hostile environment — this was loud. It was very, very loud. And we wanted to quiet them down as much as possible.”
Truth was the listed 63,347 spectators rarely had much to cheer about. An opening Colts drive was promising until Seattle stopped it at the 2, forcing a field goal.
The Seahawks then scored 14 consecutive points, the first touchdown coming when Wilson read that the Colts were going with a Cover Zero defense, meaning no safety deep. That left Lockett man-on-man with Khari Willis running straight down the field.
Wilson was hit as he threw but launched a pass into the back of the end zone that Lockett used all of his vast skills to track down. Carroll later compared it to Willie Mays’ famous catch in the 1954 World Series, saying he told Lockett that on the sideline later.
“I got the picture on my wall,” said Carroll, who grew up in the Bay Area when Mays was playing for the Giants. “… Just incredible stuff.”
Carroll noted later that Lockett and Wilson practice such throws regularly.
“It was just trying to figure out where the throw was going to be at,” Lockett said. “And just the way Russ threw the ball I was able to adjust to it, and luckily I was the only one who was able to, and the DB had no chance.”
After Seattle took a 14-3 lead on Wilson’s TD to Everett, the Colts scored on a 10-yard Wentz pass to Zach Pascal.
Later in the quarter, with just 51 seconds left in the half, the Seahawks faced a second-and-20 at their own 31.
But there was no thought of playing it safe.
“Anytime there’s time on the clock, it’s a good thing,” Wilson said. “It’s possible.”
And maybe that caught the Colts off guard as Lockett burst into the open with Wilson throwing what the QB called a “moon ball” to him.
Lockett said even as he waited for the ball to come down, he marveled at Wilson’s throw.
“Even when I was out there I said, ‘He threw a dime,’” Lockett said. “That was a pretty ball. At the same time you’re like ‘Can you drop? Can you drop?’ Because you don’t know where the defender is. You just kind of feel them based off of how you’re running. But it was a great throw.”
The 69-yard touchdown put Seattle ahead 21-10 at halftime and left Wilson with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the first half, completing 9 of 11 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
“I felt like that was a pretty big swing right there,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.
That left it to the Seattle defense to land most of the big blows the rest of the day, though the offense had one last punch left — Wilson’s TD to Metcalf that made it 28-10 with 6:41 left and sewed up Seattle’s third consecutive regular-season-opening victory.
Unlike the last two, though, this one had no asterisk. In 2019, Seattle had to rally late to beat a woeful Cincinnati team at home.
A year ago, the Seahawks were left muttering after beating Atlanta but giving up 506 yards in the process.
But this victory was as thorough as they come. Seattle rushed for 140 yards on 27 carries, 5.2 per attempt, while the defense had 10 QB hits and held the Colts’ vaunted running game to 3.8 yards per attempt.
“This is a really excellent way to get this thing started,’’ Carroll said.