While Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor and the defense shut down Green Bay’s running game and limited Aaron Rodgers, the offense showed signs of what it plans to do behind Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin.
Wilson threw two touchdown passes, Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two scores and Harvin totaled 170 all-purpose yards as the Seahawks pulled away from Green Bay for a 36-16 blowout win Thursday night in the NFL season opener.
The Seahawks ran for 207 yards and were simply more physical than the Packers in the second half, when they outscored Green Bay 19-6.
Playing his first full game for Seattle, Harvin showed he’s so fast that he can’t even keep up with himself sometimes.
The Hawks went to Harvin early and often, and when they weren’t using him they were running Lynch behind a much-improved offensive line.
Harvin had 100 scrimmage yards and 70 return yards, and he and Lynch accounted for 224 of Seattle’s 398 yards.
“I’m mostly fired up that we ran the ball for over 200 yards,” coach Pete Carroll said.
But he was almost as excited over what Harvin did — running four times for 41 yards and catching all seven passes thrown his way for 59 yards. The Hawks used him on fly sweeps and swing passes and also hit him on a 33-yard play over the middle. If he hadn’t stumbled several times, he might have busted out an even bigger play.
Carroll had great news for Seahawks fans and terrible news for Seattle’s remaining opponents regarding their use of Harvin: “There’s a bunch of other stuff we’ll do. … We’re just getting started.”
Wilson, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 191 yards and two scores, while also running seven times for 29 yards, said, “We have a very expansive offense that makes it very tough (for defenses). We can do a lot of things. … We always continue to grow.”
The Packers were in the game only because of two errors by the Seahawks. Earl Thomas, who said this week that he felt like it was Pop Warner again because he was returning punts, played like a Pop Warner player who didn’t know what he was doing. He twice failed to call for fair catches in traffic, and he lost the ball on the second try. The Packers ended up with the ball at Seattle’s 34-yard line and scored a touchdown six plays later.
After Wilson led the Hawks on an 80-yard touchown drive, capped by a 33-yard pass to Ricardo Lockette on a zone read option play, the Packers tied it at 10-10 thanks to a 44-yard pass interference penalty on Wagner, who was caught chasing speedy receiver Randall Cobb deep downfield.
Wagner made up for his failure in the passing game with his relentless play in the running game. He led the Hawks with 14 tackles, and Chancellor added 11.
“Kam and Bobby were just knocking heads and played great football for us,” Carroll said.
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy started strong, gaining 21 yards on his first two carries, but Chancellor stonewalled him with a perfect tackle soon after, and the Hawks shut him down the rest of the way. He finished with 34 yards on 12 carries and was knocked out with a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Carroll was more impressed by how the Hawks handled Aaron Rodgers, who completed 23 of 33 passes for just 189 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
“To keep Aaron down like that,” Carroll said, “… I’m really excited about that.”
The Packers decided to ignore All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and pick on Byron Maxwell and the nickel backs. It worked on one or two drives, but it largely backfired. Maxwell ended up with an interception on one errant pass that was tipped by Jordy Nelson.
Carroll said Sherman was disappointed he was not targeted at all in the game on the left side of the defense, but the coach pointed out that the All-Pro “helped us tremendously. They chopped the field in half.”
In the second half, the Hawks took advantage of a knee injury to Green Bay right tackle Bryan Bulaga. When the Packers decided to go for it on fourth-and-5 at the Seattle 41 midway through the third quarter, Avril beat Derek Sherrod for Seattle’s first sack.
After the Hawks had to punt, Michael Bennett beat Sherrod on the Packers’ very next play, sacking Rodgers and stripping the ball. Sherrod recovered it in the end zone for a safety, giving Seattle a 22-10 lead.
Wilson then led the Hawks on a nine-play drive to the clinching touchdown, a 3-yard run by Lynch that was perfectly blocked by Russell Okung and James Carpenter on the left side.
Rodgers responded with the kind of expert drive he has become known for, cutting the deficit to 29-16 (the Packers failed the two-point try). But the Hawks finished it off with a seven-minute drive capped by Wilson’s 15-yard TD pass to Derrick Coleman.
Wilson said the Hawks played very physical football in that drive. “We played great football at the end of the game,” he said. “That’s what we want to do.”