With so many key players injured and unavailable, any victory for the Seahawks at all against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday would have felt like a massive accomplishment.
Instead, the Seahawks coasted in a 37-27 romp over their NFC West divisional rival.
A 10-point margin of victory may not seem like a romp on the surface but Seattle was never in danger. They took a 30-7 lead early in the fourth quarter and, while they gave up yards and points in garbage time, kept the 49ers comfortably at arm's length.
Russell Wilson put the offense on his shoulders again with a large helping hand from D.K. Metcalf. Wilson completed 27 of 37 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns, which included two to Metcalf. Meanwhile, Metcalf set career-highs with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns as he physically manhandled 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.
The defense had its best showing of the year as a pair of turnovers led to two touchdown drives that put Seattle out front. They also frustrated Jimmy Garoppolo and shut down the 49ers rushing attack.
Any win would have been more than enough on Sunday. Losing two straight to division rivals would have been a tough stretch for a team that had been soaring heading into last week's loss in Arizona. Instead, the Seahawks will be very happy with their performance against the 49ers.
Here are the takeaways from the win over San Francisco:
-- Russell Wilson continues to carry the Seahawks to greater heights.
Russell Wilson needed to shine on Sunday as he was effectively without his top three running backs against the 49ers. Like he has so many times before, Wilson did just that.
Wilson's tossed four touchdown passes in a game for the fourth time this season. The first touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf on a 46-yard catch-and-run served as the 250th touchdown pass of Wilson's career. He became just the third quarterback in history to reach 250 touchdowns in just nine seasons, joining future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and actual Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
But Wilson wasn't done and he tossed three more scores to Metcalf, DeeJay Dallas and David Moore to carry the offense to victory. Seattle's running backs - Dallas, Travis Homer and Nick Bellore - combined for just 73 yards on 20 carries. Moore had two more rushes for 28 yards and Wilson's six runs pushed Seattle over the century mark with 101 yards on the ground. But the ground game was essentially ineffective and the game fell on Wilson's arm.
"Russell played terrific today," Carroll said. "He knew how this game was going to go. We were going to throw the ball quick and a lot of short stuff and all that and he'd have to work it. He did a great job throughout the day."
Wilson now has 26 touchdowns on the season already and leads the league in the category. He's on pace to break Peyton Manning's record of 55 touchdown passes in a season with the Denver Broncos in 2013, which is the year Seattle beat Denver to win their first Super Bowl. Wilson's personal career high in touchdown passes was 35 in 2018. At his current rate, Wilson will surpass that mark before the schedule turns to December.
-- D.K. Metcalf is showing he's clearly one of the league's best wide receivers
D.K. Metcalf was an absolutely freight train against the 49ers on Sunday.
Metcalf posted career-highs in both catches and yards gained with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the win over San Francisco. The 12 catches doubled his previous career-high of six.
"What a fantastic game he played," Carroll said. "Just so tough and so physical, just a dominant player out there today. A couple touchdowns. Just big plays one right after another."
The Seahawks used Metcalf's strength and speed to pick on 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley repeatedly. He boxed him out on slants, stiff-armed him to the ground of screens, run away from him in the open field, and beat him on deep passes downfield. Receivers that can carry size, speed and quickness all effectively are very difficult to find and they are a valued commodity. Metcalf fits the makeup perfectly.
Through seven games, Metcalf has 36 receptions for 680 yards and seven touchdowns. He's on pace for 82 catches, 1,554 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. The record for most receiving yards in a season in franchise history is the 1,287 yards accumulated by Hall of Famer Steve Largent in 1985. Metcalf's pace would obliterate that mark in just his second season in the NFL.
Last week, it was Tyler Lockett that starred with 15 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona. This week, it was Metcalf's turn to be the main attraction. Together, Metcalf and Lockett give Wilson a feast of options in the passing game that has helped Seattle to a 6-1 start to the season.
"Tyler actually told me on a field he was like 'man we got the best duo in the league.' We feed off each other very well," Metcalf said.
-- Best defensive performance of the season
The Seahawks defense has rightfully taken it's brunt of criticism this season. But Sunday was it's best showing of the year by far against and deserves it's recognition.
Despite being without Jamal Adams, Shaquill Griffin, Ugo Amadi, Benson Mayowa, Rasheem Green, Bruce Irvin and Marquise Blair, the unit rose to the occasion.
Seattle's defense forced two turnovers that led directly to offensive touchdowns. The 49ers managed just 117 yards of total offense through the the first three quarters of the game as the Seahawks built a 30-7 lead.
"The thing I like best about the game is the defensive play," Carroll said. "Up until like the fourth quarter they had 112 yards or something like that and run/pass all the whole thing we played really good ball today. Kenny call a great game. Guys played great Bobby Wagner was just everywhere on the field, as well as a bunch of other guys that played well. It was really important and we did our whole fourth quarter thing again and gave them a couple hundred yards in the fourth quarter or whatever. We're getting there and we're gonna keep getting better. And I know I keep saying that to you, but it's because it's gonna happen."
Garoppolo was confounded during his time under center before being forced from the game in the fourth quarter due to continued issues with his high-ankle sprain. Tevin Coleman also left the game after re-aggravating the knee injury that had him on injured reserve the last several weeks. Tight end George Kittle would also leave with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
Nick Mullens did come in and rack up stats during the fourth quarter but the Seahawks softened their coverages since they were carrying a large lead. The 49ers did put up 239 yards of offense in the final quarter with Mullens at quarterback. He accounted for all but Jerick McKinnon's 1-yard touchdown run through the air.
Mullens does enjoy playing in Seattle as he threw for 418 yards and two touchdowns two years ago for the 49ers.
But the 49ers never got within ten points of Seattle.
D.J. Reed's interception of Garoppolo led to D.K. Metcalf's first touchdown. Then Damontre Moore and Cody Barton combined to force a fumble from Dante Pettis on a kickoff in the third quarter that set up a 6-yard touchdown to Moore.
"I felt like we were a lot more aggressive. We were able to get in the backfield and get the quarterback off the spot. Obviously, we still have things to work on but I think it was a step in the right direction," linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
Wagner led the team with 11 tackles and had two of the three sacks of Garoppolo on the day. He had been frustrated with the play of the defense last week following the loss to the Cardinals and was glad to see the team make strides against the 49ers. It was the first time this season Seattle had held an opponent to fewer than 400 yards of total offense. San Francisco managed just 351 yards on Sunday. The 415 yards accumulated by the Miami Dolphins was the previous low output of the year.
-- The substitutes did their best to contribute to the cause.
With all of the absences across the board the Seahawks needed the replacements to make some contributions.
A handful of reserves did their part to answer the call.
"Really, really great day to day for us," Carroll said. "I'm really fired up about this game for a lot of reasons. They're a really good opponent and all of that, division opponent and all that stuff. But the way we entered this game, if you take a look at our inactive list today, you see all the guys that couldn't play and guys that had to step up and fill in and play first class football and guys did it in and came through in such a big way. I was inspired by it, inspired by their toughness and by their guts and really just the way they handled it throughout the whole week. They just stepped up and never even batted an eye about it."
Cornerback D.J. Reed had a very impressive debut with the Seahawks after being activated from the non-football injury list. He intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo in the first quarter and the ensuing drive resulted in the first touchdown of the game for Seattle. The play had come immediately after a fumble from JaMycal Hasty had seemingly been recovered by Seattle only for Ryan Neal to have touched the ball while out of bounds to keep possession with the 49ers.
Reed then helped force Garoppolo into a sack on a blitz in the second half as well. He finished with two tackles along with the interception but did a very nice job stepping up with Amadi sidelined.
"I've been really excited about him," Carroll said. "I really liked the film in evaluating him when we first acquired him and been hoping for him to be able to do some stuff because he's a really active football player. Great quickness really good instincts and all that. He had a chance for a sack and a couple other things too. He had some nice other plays as well. So I'm really not surprised that he played well."
Rookie running back DeeJay Dallas handled most of the rushing duty on the day with Carson and Hyde out and Homer limited. He ended up with 18 carries and wasn't particularly effective as a runner, but he did also catch a 2-yard touchdown from Wilson and added a closing 1-yard touchdown to cap the scoring on the day. It was the first touchdowns of his career in both categories.
"I was sick about the first one but I had guys like D.K. and Russ telling me it'll come back like it's gonna come back, and then it came back two-fold," Dallas said.
Rookie defensive end Alton Robinson got the start at defensive end with Mayowa out and managed to record his second sack of the season. He managed to clean up the sack that Reed pressured Garoppolo into during the third quarter. Robinson finished with three tackles and the sack.
"I can't wait to see the film because Alton was right in the face of a bunch of their wide running game. And he's playing against the best tight end in football and I was wondering what was gonna happen on this one," Carroll said.
Maybe one of the most surprising contributions was from rookie tight end/defensive end Stephen Sullivan, who saw several snaps as a pass rusher after being moved to the defensive side of the ball in recent weeks. Sullivan helped combine for a tackle for loss with Damontre Moore in the early stages of the game.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to to win honestly. I'm a team player so if coach Pete wants me to kick the ball, then I'll kick the ball," Sullivan said.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 01: DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a touchdown against Emmanuel Moseley #41 and Jimmie Ward #20 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on November 01, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)