Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks escapes the tackle attempt of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
The Seattle Seahawks opened up their title defense in remarkable fashion with a convincing 36-16 thrashing of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
Seattle was better than the Packers in every facet of the game. Their defense kept Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy in check and the offense was more explosive with Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin running through the Packers defense.
If this was a precursor to the performances the team will have throughout the season, the Seahawks will surely be a contender once against to advance deep into the postseason.
What stood out about the game? Here are some takeaways from Seattle's performance...
1. Hey look, the Seahawks have an offensive line.
The Achilles heel of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks was their offensive line.
The 2014 unit looks to be a vastly improved unit, particularly at the guard positions.
James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy frequently caved in the Packers defensive front to create rushing lanes for Lynch, Harvin and Robert Turbin. The Seahawks averaged 7.7 yards per carry in the first half and finished the game with 207 yards on the ground.
Russell Wilson was sacked just once - by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for a zero-yard loss. Wilson completed 19 of 28 passes for 191 yards, two touchdowns and a 110.9 passer rating.
If the line can play that that, the Seahawks offense has the potential to a special unit as well this season.
2. Percy Harvin is just special.
It may sound like a broken record, but what Harvin can do on a football field is just amazing.
The Seahawks lined him up at receiver, in the slot and in the backfield. He returned kickoffs, took handoffs, played the decoy on fly sweeps and caught all seven passes thrown his direction.
Harvin changes the entire scope of Seattle's offense. He creates more room for every player on the field. He touched the ball 14 times and racked up 160 all-purpose yards for the Seahawks.
The attention diverted to Harvin helped create more room for Lynch in the running game as well. Lynch carried 20 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Even with some minor hiccups, the Seahawks offense looked extremely dangerous Thursday night. Harvin is a big reason for that.
3. Richard Sherman is going to get bored.
The Seahawks cornerback admitted this week that he would get bored at times last season when teams refused to throw his direction.
The Green Bay Packers didn't throw his way once on Thursday night.
Sherman effectively shut down the entire right side of the field for the Packers offense as Rodgers elected to pick on Byron Maxwell instead. However, Maxwell made him pay as well with an interception in the third quarter.
Maxwell knew he would get opportunities with teams not wanting to test the All-Pro on the other side of the field. He now has five interceptions in his last six regular season games since taking over as starter in place of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.
"All they doing is driving Maxwell's price up," defensive end Michael Bennett said. "You keep throwing at him, it's going to be a big payday for him in the offseason."
Meanwhile, Sherman might want to get comfortable with boredom.
4. Earl Thomas needs to learn how to fair catch.
Thomas muffed a punt in the first quarter that gifted the Packers prime field position and led to their first touchdown of the game.
Thomas caught the first punt of the game in traffic and attempted a return as well despite Packers coverage being pretty tight. The second punt of the game wasn't that lucky.
Sherman was blocking a Packers defender and Thomas attempted another catch in traffic that fell on the ground was recovered by Green Bay. The Packers then posted a 34-yard scoring drive with John Kuhn scoring a 2-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a 7-3 lead, their only lead of the game.
Thomas' ability in the open field in tantalizing, but he needs to know when to play it safe as well.
5. They didn't even play that great of a game.
The Seahawks blew out a team that is expected to win their division, expected to finish the season with double-digit victories and expected to compete for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
They beat the Packers by 20 points in a game that really wasn't even as close as the scoreboard indicated.
And yet, they didn't play a perfect game.
The Seahawks had several issues that they'll kick themselves for when studying the game this week. Thomas' muffed punt. Bobby Wagner's pass interference on Randall Cobb. Settling for a field goal after Maxwell's interception gave them 1st and Goal from the Packers 8-yard line.
The players I spoke to in the locker room agreed that they didn't play that great of a game tonight. They all said there is clear room for improvement and they'll look to correct those issues this week.
The team we saw tonight looked like it could be a near-unbeatable force this season. A team that could still be better than this? That's a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.