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The Seattle Seahawks offense came alive Sunday in a 37-18 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. With the defense again playing well, this was Seattle’s most complete performance of the season, though an otherwise very positive result did come with an injury question mark, as quarterback Russell Wilson left the game with what head coach Pete Carroll called a sprained knee.
Aside from Wilson’s second-half exit, here are five things that stood out from a win that improved Seattle’s record to 2-1.
1. The offense took a big step forward.
The Seahawks managed to score just one touchdown in their first two games, but they had two touchdowns on their first two drives on Sunday. When it came to getting the offense on track, Carroll pointed to two things in particular—the team’s running game and its ability to convert on third down, and sure enough, the Seahawks took a big step forward in both areas on the way to their big victory Sunday.
Christine Michael, making his second start in three games, carried 20 times for 106 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career, and he helped jumpstart the offense with a 41-yard score on Seattle’s third play from scrimmage. As a team, the Seahawks rushed for 127 yards, not necessarily a huge total, but a sign of progress, particularly considering the absence of both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise.
On third down, the Seahawks went 9-for-14, a big improvement on last week’s 4-for-13 performance.
Prior to his injury, Wilson was also enjoying his best game of the season, completing 15-of-23 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown.
2. Doug Baldwin was unstoppable.
It should come as no surprise that when Trevone Boykin came into the game for Wilson, his favorite target became Doug Baldwin. Seattle’s top receiver had one of the best games of his NFL career Sunday, catching eight passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. With Baldwin catching nine passes for 92 yards and touchdown in Seattle’s opener, it’s clear he’s picking up where he left off late last season as one of the NFL’s top pass catchers.
3. Jimmy Graham was a big part of the offense.
Carroll said during the week that after returning to a full workload in last week’s game, Jimmy Graham would be a big part of the offense this week, and sure enough, Graham was very involved in the passing game. After catching four passes in Seattle’s first two games, Graham was targeted nine times and had six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, his second 100-yard game as a Seahawk.
4. The defense was impressive again, including a takeaway.
Through two games, the Seahawks had allowed the fewest points and yards in the NFL, but there was still one thing missing if you asked Carroll or any defense player—turnovers. But after going two games without a takeaway, the Seahawks finally got one against San Francisco thanks to a Bobby Wagner interception that set up a field goal.
The defense was strong overall as well, allowing 254 yards and 18 points, with both San Francisco touchdowns coming late in the game when Seattle was already comfortably ahead.
5. That was vintage Kam Chancellor.
Kam Chancellor finished the game with eight tackles and one pass defensed, but that stat line doesn’t show how well the Seahawks safety played on Sunday. Throughout the game, Chancellor was at his physical, intimidating best, laying huge hits on 49ers ball carriers and pass catchers. When Seattle’s defense is at its best, Chancellor is in the middle of everything, making opponents feel his presence—literally and figuratively—and that was the case all afternoon Sunday.
6. Boykin made some nice plays … and a rookie mistake.
Coming in for Wilson, Boykin showed some poise and for the most part played well, completing 7-of-9 passes for 65 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin. Boykin did, however, have a rookie moment, throwing a pass directly to 49ers linebacker Nick Bellore. Fortunately for Boykin and the Seahawks, Seattle was comfortably in the lead by the time that interception happened, and overall Boykin’s NFL debut was a success.