It started out as if it might be the day of reckoning for the Seahawks. By the end, though, they had three second-half touchdown passes from Russell Wilson, over 400 yards for the third time in the past four games, and a collective psyche brimming with optimism.
Here’s a crazy thought: Maybe the Seahawks aren’t preordained to have a sputtering offense that will undermine all the elite work being done once again on the other side of the ball.
Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope that, as numerous players expressed Sunday after their 24-7 win over the New York Giants, the team is on the cusp of an offensive breakout.
Or maybe that’s just the Meadowlands talking. The Seahawks always seem to leave the place, site of their most exalted victory (Super Bowl XLVIII) and numerous other fancy ones, with an extra bounce in their step. That was certainly the case Sunday, even though it started out as if it might turn out to be the day of reckoning for the Seahawks.
Houston @ Seahawks, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 7
By the end, though, they had three second-half touchdown passes from Russell Wilson, over 400 yards in offense for the third time in the past four games and a collective psyche brimming with optimism.
“I think it’s a process, and I think we’re on the verge of it,’’ said Doug Baldwin.
Here’s a more sober thought: despite the second-half outburst against a subpar opponent, the Seahawks remain a team in search of their identity. That has always meant, in the Pete Carroll era, running the ball with authority and conviction, forcing the opposition to come up to stop them and then unleashing an explosive passing game.
Or at least that has always been the goal, much more elusive in the post-Marshawn Lynch era as they struggle to find a go-to running back as well as to construct the offensive line that will open holes for him. Once again, they feel that ideal is not only in sight, just over the horizon, but attainable as they head into the stretch drive of a season for which they still hold the loftiest of goals.
“We’ve got so many young guys,’’ said Baldwin. “They haven’t really felt what it feels like to be a Seattle Seahawks offense yet. We were kind of getting on the verge of that when Chris Carson was in there. Unfortunately, we lost him. Emotionally that kind of set us back.
“So finding our rhythm again, finding our identity as an offense, it takes time, again with the young guys, but we’ll get there. I think we’re on the verge, for sure.”
The Seahawks have worked their way into the middle of the pack in the NFL in offense, which goes a long way when you have a defense that is starting to look special again. They rank 14th in points per game, 13th in yards per game, 11th in passing yards per game and 18th in rushing yards per game.
Can they forge that running identity with Carson gone, and Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls carrying the load behind a line that was much better Sunday but remains a constant concern? It is the burning question that will determine if Sunday’s burst was a mirage or truly a portend of better things to come.
“That’s what the whole program of our offense is based on, the run game,’’ said Baldwin. “Run the ball down your throat, and when you come up to try to stop the run, we’re going to be explosive in the passing game behind you. We haven’t been able to do that as effectively as we’d like to, but we’re going to continue to work on that.”
The Seahawks rushed for 104 yards Sunday, just the third time in six games they’ve exceeded 100 yards. Lacy and Rawls each carried 11 times, for 34 and 36 yards, respectively. It’s not exactly vintage Lynch — or even vintage Rawls, for that matter — but wide receiver Paul Richardson still saw the Seahawk prototype at work, particularly as Seattle took control of the game in the second half.
“I think what changed is we came out and started executing more,’’ he said. “We forced the issue with the run. So even if we were only getting a few yards a pop, that run was wearing them down to where they had to play it to where we could make passes, easy passes, and complete them.”
The first half, Richardson said, had been steeped in frustration as a succession of Seattle mistakes stalled promising drives.
“We’re on offense, we want to score points, we want to help the defense win,’’ he said.
Once again, that doesn’t seem to be a mere pipe dream.