STACY ROST

Rost: The Seahawks clicking is no surprise, but for it to happen in season opener is

Sep 12, 2021, 5:05 PM | Updated: Sep 14, 2021, 2:12 am
Seahawks Gerald Everett...
Gerald Everett of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates a 9-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

It would be fair for Seahawks fans to be pleasantly surprised as Seattle’s fourth quarter was wrapping up on Sunday afternoon.

Seahawks win opener: Takeaways | Instant Reaction | Fast Facts

Granted, it wasn’t surprising that Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns, nor that Tyler Lockett – who remained the team’s leader in receptions last year even with a massive season from DK Metcalf – finished with 100 yards a pair of scores.

It wasn’t surprising that Chris Carson was more involved – something head coach Pete Carroll wanted to see late last season when the offense was floundering. Nor was it surprising that Duane Brown, the team’s highest-graded offensive lineman since his arrival in 2017, made sure Colts fans at Lucas Oil Stadium never heard the name of their star rookie defensive end Kwity Paye echoing over the loudspeakers.

It wasn’t even surprising that they won. The Seahawks have won 11 of their last 12 games that kicked off at 10 a.m. since 2018. They were 12-4 last year for the first time since 2014 and won the NFC West.

But all of that happened in Week 1. And – don’t tell Pete Carroll – it was also settled before the fourth quarter. The Seahawks’ 28-16 regular season opener win happened with little doubt against a team that last year finished 11-5, boasts one of the league’s best offensive lines, and fielded six 2020 All-Pros.

It also happened with a brand new playbook from a rookie play caller after most starters didn’t see a snap in the preseason.

“The day, to me, really goes to Shane,” Carroll said postgame. “I think his first time out, and a chance to show it, I’m really, really proud of what he was able to do.”

Carroll had plenty of praise for his new offensive coordinator, though he snuck in a cheeky joke at the end.

“He handled it with such a cool overall mentality and he and Russell were just cookin’. I’m sorry I said that… can you scratch that? Doggonnit. They did really well together. Shoot, that’s out there. I don’t think I ever said that one time all last year.”

Seattle finished with 381 net yards and averaged 7.2 yards per play. Notably, they were 4 of 9 on third down (44%), which was an area of improvement Carroll stressed immediately following their 2020 campaign in which they finished 27th overall in third down efficiency.

The Colts have two first-team All-Pros in a front-seven that was stout against the run last year, but they couldn’t hold Carson back. Seattle had 140 yards on the ground, with 91 of those coming on 16 carries from Carson (an impressive 5.7 yards per attempt).

It was a finely executed game plan with little obvious errors to speak of outside of a fumble by Carson and a slower third quarter. But compared to the second-half collapse last year, Seattle’s execution Sunday left little else to be desired.

“I’ve never seen this kind of chemistry be so obvious between the caller and the quarterback,” Carroll said, “and I hope this is just the first step of a great march together.”

It was a significantly better start for the defense, as well. Particularly the defensive line.

To its credit, Seattle’s defense had a significantly better second half last season and finished seventh in sacks a year after finishing with just 28 total. But they were still, at times, a porous secondary that finished the year allowing the second-most passing yards overall and faced doubts about wholesale improvements given the quarterbacks they were facing (a stretch that included matchups against Carson Wentz, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Sam Darnold, and C.J. Beathard).

Sunday saw a reunion with Wentz but also brought the challenge of a great run game and one of the league’s best offensive lines. And against that group – on the road – Seattle’s defense allowed Indy to convert on just 5 of 13 third down attempts and made three key fourth down stops. Three separate defensive linemen registered sacks: Rasheem Green, Darrell Taylor, and Benson Mayowa. The team also registered 10 quarterback hits.

In fact, outside of a fumble and a brief scare on a punt, it wasn’t too eventful a day at all – and maybe that’s the biggest surprise for any Seahawks game.

Seahawks injury notes

The Seahawks entered the game with a clean bill of health. No players were held out for injury-related reasons. That didn’t hold up through four quarters of play, though.

Carroll said center Ethan Pocic sprained his knee. The severity of that injury isn’t known at this time.

Rashaad Penny’s left calf tightened up. He was initially questionable to return and was ultimately downgraded to out. Carroll said the team held him out primarily as a precautionary measure.

Wide receivers Penny Hart and Dee Eskridge both suffered concussions. The Seahawks have some depth there on the practice squad should either player be kept out of Week 2. Cody Thompson, Cade Johnson, and Aaron Fuller are all available to be promoted to the active roster.

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