The Seahawks dropped a season high for points on the Panthers on Sunday, routing Carolina 40-7 a week after stumbling to a 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay. The offense was clicking, but the loss of Earl Thomas to injury certainly stings.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wanted his players to accept what happened a week ago Sunday at Tampa Bay and then immediately forget it.
“You have to have amnesia in this game,’’ was the way quarterback Russell Wilson put it.
But it was never going to be quite that easy.
Receiver Tyler Lockett said the residue of the debacle at Tampa Bay last Sunday was evident every time he passed a teammate in the locker room throughout the week.
“You saw everybody had a different look in their eyes because we realized we could get beat,’’ Lockett said. “Nobody wanted to go watch the film on Monday but we had to sit there and really watch it and it was nasty.’’
So Sunday against Carolina was about proving they were still who they thought they were.
Ultimately, the Seahawks might have found out even more about themselves than they expected, overcoming the shock of seeing star free safety Earl Thomas go down with a broken left leg (reported by NBC to be a broken tibia) in the second quarter to wallop Carolina 40-7 in what was as complete a performance as they have had all season.
The defense gave up only one touchdown — a 55-yard pass on the play after Thomas was hurt, though cornerback Richard Sherman said that wasn’t really the issue.
“We shouldn’t have even gave them that seven,’’ Sherman said. “It was kind of a fluky play, bad coverage that we were in. We kind of gave them one.’’
Otherwise, the Seahawks pitched a shutout and held Carolina to 211 yards through the first three quarters.
The Panthers seemed so defeated that defensive lineman Michael Bennett wondered later about the game plan of a Carolina team Seattle was playing for the seventh time in the past five years (the Seahawks getting a measure of revenge for two defeats last season).
“They were being really conservative today,’’ Bennett said. “… It was a lot different than how we’re used to playing them.’’
The real revelations, though, were on offense, where a Seattle team that a week ago was held to a season-low 245 yards rebounded with a season-high 534, scoring the most points since a 41-20 victory over Minnesota in 2013.
Running back Thomas Rawls, in his third game back after a hairline fracture of his fibula, had the breakout game Carroll predicted all week, rushing for a season-high 106 yards on 15 carries, including a 45-yard TD.
“That’s what we have been imaging and envisioning was going to happen,’’ said Carroll. “The difference was all through the week and his preparation was right on point, his mentality and his physical side. You could see he just was quicker from Wednesday on.’’
Then there was Lockett, also finally past a knee injury suffered in week two, with a 40-yard run on a short pass that set up Seattle’s first touchdown, and then a 75-yard score on a fly sweep on the first play of the third quarter that made it 30-7 and turned the game into a rout.
“Unbelievable,’’ receiver Doug Baldwin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody run faster on a football field.’’
Said Lockett: “I think I finally got to hit that extra gear that I’ve been waiting on.’’
Lockett left Tampa Bay without a catch despite being targeted six times, a statistic that seemed to epitomize the struggles in a game that had been a shocking turnabout after Seattle had scored 88 points combined the previous three weeks.
Lockett admitted he was one of those who considered the Tampa Bay game “a nightmare. But it was much needed. We needed to see that we could get beat by any team if we played like that.’’
It also helped that center Justin Britt was back to solidify the offensive line.
Seattle’s front had hardly been able to get out of its own way against Tampa Bay, allowing a season-high six sacks and unable to help mount any sort of a consistent running game.
But if the performance of the line against the Bucs had anyone panicking, Britt was convinced all along it was just a bad day.
“It just had a weird vibe and was just kind of an off week,’’ Britt said. “It was just kind of one of those games that brings you back to reality and humbles you.’’
A week later, anything and everything again seems possible for the Seahawks.
Asked if he felt the Seahawk are finally a complete team with the emergence of a running game — Seattle had a season-high 240 yards, most since the Seahawks had 255 against San Francisco on Nov. 22, 2015 — Baldwin said “absolutely.’’
The way Rawls ran, Baldwin said “forces the defense to have to account for him and when they do that it opens up so much in our passing game.’’
It added up to an offense that gained 7.5 yards per play — a season-high and almost twice the 4.0 of the Tampa Bay game.
“We’re a really good team when we put it all together and do what we’re supposed to do,’’ said Sherman.
Something the Seahawks proved again Sunday night just in case anyone had forgotten.
|Hawks: This week vs. last week|
|The Seattle offense made a big turnaround.|
|Statistic||vs. TB||vs. CAR|