A Win Is A Win Is A Win
Serious Super Bowl contenders have to demonstrate an ability to win while not playing their best football. It might have been seasonal rust or high expectations, but the Seahawks didn’t show up in the first half of the opener. The pass game wasn’t there and, shockingly, the run game wasn’t having its desired effect.
Seeing Russell Wilson unable to bring his team on the board during the first half on red-zone trips was something unusual and highly disturbing for Seahawks fans. All the hype that surrounded him this offseason suddenly seemed to be a huge exaggeration. His short passes weren’t working and his long passes were ending over the heads of intended receivers. After going 1-of-5 for no yards, Wilson started throwing the ball with more confidence and accuracy, even against a relentless Carolina pass-rush.
The running game wasn’t much better as Marshawn Lynch struggled to get into "Beast Mode" and was continuously trapped by a very tough Carolina defensive line. The absence of a true fullback, like Michael Robinson, was definitely a factor in his struggle for yards.
Without a doubt, the best player for the first three quarters was punter Jon Ryan who consistently pushed the Panthers back down the field. His punts averaged 50 yards and an amazing 70-yard punt helped fuel a last-quarter, Seahawks comeback.
The fourth quarter is really when the Seahawks shook off the rust and began showing more of what we are used to. Pete Carroll must have reminded the team, in a quiet halftime locker room, that they know how to play football and win games. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin made important catches to keep drives going. The ground game started working more fluidly, although fans will have to wait at least until next week to see Christine Michael in action. Robert Turbin looked fine in his new starting position.
Jermaine Kearse, an unheralded hero, gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game. Kearse had already shown great balance and position in preseason games, but this time he came up with a big play that would give the Seahawks the win. On the next drive, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas managed to strip Carolina's DeAngelo Williams to seal the game.
This was an ugly win, but one that had a sweet taste to it. The Seahawks have lost some of the outside expectations and can work more comfortably from now on.
Next up, the San Francisco 49ers. Russell Wilson and Co. can't afford to start slow in this one.