SEATTLE -- Throughout the offseason, some Seattle Seahawks fans believed the league and the television networks had a conspiracy against their team for not scheduling any nationally televised night games in Seattle after Thursday night's NFL opener. The theory was the Seahawks blew out too many teams at home, which would pull down ratings.
The way the Seahawks dismantled the Green Bay Packers 36-16 on Thursday, maybe the fans were right. Marshawn Lynch was in full Beast Mode, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Quarterback Russell Wilson continues to evolve from a game manager into an elite quarterback. And the defense showed not only how well it can cover, but how well it can tackle.
Here are three things that stood out for the Seahawks in the NFL's season opener.
1. Lynch is one of the top running backs in football, but he looks even better because of the improvements along the offensive line. The Seahawks return four of the five O-line starters from the Super Bowl and are breaking in second-round pick Justin Britt at right tackle. The improvements at guard stood out Thursday. James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy overpowered the significantly lighter Packers defensive line, which lost B.J. Raji to the injured reserve list and elected not to re-sign Ryan Pickett. The Packers' three-man line averaged 300 pounds a player. The Seahawks' interior line pushed them back all night, and that plays into Lynch's game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lynch averaged 6.3 yards per carry on 15 runs inside the tackles. Lynch is a physical downhill runner in the mold of Earl Campbell. Lynch averaged 8.4 yards a carry in the first half and finished with a 5.5-yard average. It was almost too easy.
2. The Seahawks' defense put on a clinic with its tackling and technique. Packers halfback Eddie Lacy, a physical runner in the mode of Lynch, opened the game with three carries for 24 yards, including a 15-yard run in which Seahawks defenders weren't in their proper gaps and some defenders missed tackles. After the 15-yard run, the Seahawks taught a lesson on tackling and swarming to the ball. Seattle safety Earl Thomas attributed the three-play start to the team merely adjusting to the speed of the game. Lacy had only 10 yards on his next nine carries and couldn't finish the game because of a concussion. At times, three and four Seattle defenders swarmed to the ball to make stops.
The Seahawks' pass defense also displayed the hard work from training camp in making sure officials didn't overload them with penalty flags for mugging receivers. The Seahawks didn't draw an illegal contact or defensive holding call. In four exhibition games, the Seahawks had only three illegal contacts, two interference penalties and no holding calls. Cornerback Richard Sherman didn't have a pass thrown near him the entire game. Thomas noted he wasn't thrown on either, which isn't unusual. "I had only eight passes thrown on me for the entire season last year," Thomas said. The Seahawks' defense has held Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers to 5.7 yards an attempt in the past two games.
3. Wilson is much more than a game manager, and that was apparent Thursday. With Percy Harvin and Lynch leading the way, Wilson showed he knows how to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The Seahawks had a five-play stretch over two drives in the second quarter that included back-to-back completions by Wilson for 33 yards each -- one for a Ricardo Lockette touchdown -- along with a 24-yard completion to tight end Zach Miller and a 21-yard run by Lynch. Five plays, 111 yards. During the preseason, Wilson led the Seahawks to nine touchdowns and two field goals in 13 drives. He guided the Seahawks to four touchdowns and two field goals in 10 possessions Thursday.