The Seahawks dominated from start to finish in a game that saw Russell Wilson throw for three touchdowns while, on the other side of the ball, Seattle's pass rush rumbled to life. Even 4,801 miles away from Seattle, they said it felt like a home game.
LONDON — It wasn’t a real surprise to the Seahawks when they heard cheers as they took the field at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
They knew there’d be a good contingent of Seahawks fans on hand, and they knew the locals would likely politely applaud everyone as well.
It was what they heard when the Raiders were announced that let them know it was going to be a good day: boos.
“You feel that energy from our fans and then hear boos when they took the field,’’ said left tackle Duane Brown. “That only gave us more energy.’’
Seattle coach Pete Carroll likewise said it wasn’t the cheers but the boos that most caught his ear.
“Yeah,’’ he said, “not only were they so much for us, they made it hard on the other guys, too.’’
So even though they were wearing road uniforms and playing on a field officially listed as 4,801 miles from Seattle, the Seahawks felt right at home Sunday and played like it, blasting the Oakland Raiders 27-3 in front of 84,922 spectators — the largest crowd to ever see an NFL game in London.
“It felt like we were at CenturyLink,’’ said defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who helped spark a defensive line that had a season-high six sacks while holding the Raiders to 185 yards of total offense, the fewest against Seattle this year. Of the six sacks, 2.5 came from Frank Clark, who made the Oakland backfield his own personal playpen for much of the day.
The Seahawks gave their fans plenty to cheer from the start, scoring touchdowns on two of their first three possession, powered for the fourth consecutive week by a consistently effective rushing game. Seattle had 155 rushing yards — after averaging 158 the past three weeks — and some big passing plays from quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson threw for three touchdowns and now has 13 for the season, on pace to match his career high of 34.
Clark, meanwhile, forced fumbles on two of his sacks, each was recovered by Seattle and converted into scores, and the defense also held Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to just 45 yards on 13 carries and didn’t allow a gain of longer than 21 yards.
“This is winning football.’’ said receiver Doug Baldwin. “You run the ball, you convert on third down (9 for 13) on the passing game when you have to. You play stifling defense and stop the run, and you don’t turn the ball over. Usually you win the games when you do that.’’
That was as succinct and accurate of a description of what Carroll wants the Seahawks to be — and what they have been the past four weeks — as is possible.
The victory over the Raiders got the Seahawks to 3-3 as they head into their bye, having won three of four following an 0-2 start, with the only loss being last week’s two-point defeat against the undefeated Rams.
If there was any concern that Seattle might have a letdown following that game, or jet lag from the trip to London, it was apparent from the start that wouldn’t be the case.
The Seahawks drove 82 yards on 14 plays on the first possession, running on the first seven plays to move from their own 18 to the 49, setting up Wilson’s first TD pass of the game to Jaron Brown a few minutes later — the first time in 34 games, or since Sept. 25, 2016 against the 49ers, the Seahawks scored a touchdown on their opening drive.
“I think we ran the ball six or seven times the first drive in a row, I believe, just to set the tone that it’s going to be tough to play us week in and week out,’’ Wilson said. “You know, that’s how we want to be.’’
The Seahawks then forced a three-and-out on three Lynch runs that netted just 1 yard. And as they did, Jefferson noticed something else.
“I just didn’t see the juice from them from the first snap,’’ Jefferson said of the Raiders. “I just felt like I already knew coming in, ‘All right, we are about to dominate them from the first snap.’ Like it looked like they just wanted to go back home. I don’t know if it had to do with them coming a day later or whatever. But we had the juice and we weren’t coming home with a loss.’’
Seattle flew out to London on Wednesday, while the Raiders made the trip Thursday.
The game basically was over by the first play of the second quarter. Wilson’s 19-yard touchdown pass to David Moore came on a play when Wilson initially dropped a slightly off-center snap, then picked it up and moved around and found an open Moore in the back of the end zone. Moore got both feet in, then tumbled over a retaining wall and into a group of photographers (Moore said he was momentarily stunned but otherwise fine).
It was 17-0 at the half and then another Clark strip sack led to a third-quarter field goal.
A 62-yard drive — sparked by a 23-yard pass from Wilson to Baldwin — made it 27-0.
After being held to one catch last week, Baldwin rebounded big, finishing with six receptions for 91 yards.
A Raiders field goal in the fourth quarter blew the shutout, but Seattle got the ball back with 8:18 left, and used nine running plays and two passes to move 57 yards and run out the rest of the clock.
Seattle’s players heartily celebrated a victory that puts the Seahawks right back in the NFC playoff mix — only the 6-0 Rams and 4-1 Saints have more NFC wins than the Seahawks.
Maybe the Raiders weren’t the toughest of competition — they fell to 1-5 while suffering a few more injuries along the way going with two rookie tackles and down to their third-string left guard by the end of the first half. But to Carroll, the victory proved that even though the Seahawks might have been far away from home, they are beginning to truly find themselves.
“It’s stopping the run on defense, no big plays, which we were able to do today,’’ Carroll said. “And then you circle it in with running the football like that, and that attitude that prevails, that makes us the Seahawks.’’