The Seahawks responded to their first loss of the season with what, for three quarters at least, was their most dominant performance of the year. The 49ers did get a few scores late to make the game a little bit closer, but the Seahawks sill were able to cruise to a 37-27 victory that improved their NFC West-leading record to 6-1.
Here are five rapid reactions to Sunday's win over the 49ers:
1. The much-maligned Seahawks defense responded in a big way.
The Seahawks came into Sunday's game having allowed the most yards, passing yards and first downs of any team in the NFL, and there was a lot of criticism of that unit after the Cardinals scored 37 points last weekend to hand Seattle its first loss of the season.
The Seahawks came into this game looking to begin to turn things around on defense, but they also did so pretty short-handed on defense. All-Pro safety Jamal Adams missed a fourth consecutive game with a groin injury, Pro-Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin was out with a concussion and hamstring injury, starting defensive end Benson Mayowa was out with an ankle injury, and nickel DB Ugo Amadi, who took over that role from an injured Marquise Blair, was out with a hamstring injury.
Yet despite missing all of those key players to injury, and despite all the issues in the first six games, the Seahawks defense had its best performance of the season, holding the 49ers to a single scoring drive through three-plus quarters until San Francisco managed to score three touchdowns after Seattle had established a 30-7 lead.
The Seahawks held San Francisco to just 116 yards and a 3.4 yards-per-play average in the first half, and the 49ers gained all of 1 yard on two third-quarter possessions. Through three quarters, the 49ers' offensive possessions went: punt, interception, touchdown, punt, end of half, punt, punt. And that one touchdown drive was aided by a debatable roughing-the-passer call, and also required a fourth-down conversion.
And yes, giving up three late scores to backup quarterback Nick Mullens was hardly ideal, but the Seahawks were playing pretty soft coverage with such a big lead, and what they did for three quarters holding San Francisco to a single score and 117 yards was a big step in the right direction.
The Seahawks used a lot pressure to make life difficult on Jimmy Garoppolo, particularly on third down, and sacked him three times, including two by Bobby Wagner.
*2. Bobby Wagner was a man possessed. *
Wagner was clearly upset with the defense's play following last week's game, and on a week when the defense challenged itself to be better, Seattle's defensive captain led the way.
Blitzing as much as he has all season, Wagner recorded a pair of sacks, four quarterback hits, and was his usual play-making self all over the field, recording a team-high 11 tackles including three tackles for loss.
3. Russell Wilson continues to play at an MVP level.
A week after a rare three-interception game, Russell Wilson was back to playing at an MVP level, and with a limited running game, the Seahawks needed it more than ever. Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde were both out with injuries, and while DeeJay Dallas filled in admirably, the running game just wasn't the same without Seattle's top two backs available.
So on a day when the Seahawks rushed for only 101 yards, with 23 of those coming on Wilson scrambles, Wilson completed 27 of 37 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a 128.3 passer rating. Wilson has now thrown a league-high 26 touchdown passes this season, and has thrown three or more in six of seven games.
Wilson also joined Peyton Manning and Dan Marino and the only three players to throw 250 or more touchdowns in their first nine seasons.
Wilson and the offense's big game were all the more impressive considering how shaky of a start Seattle got off to, netting a total of five yards and one first down on its first two possessions.
4. DK Metcalf had a monster game.
A week after Metcalf had a quiet game while Tyler Lockett went off for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 15 catches, it was Metcalf's turn for a huge game. Seattle's second-year receiver was a handful for multiple 49ers defensive backs, catching 12 passes for 161 yards, both career highs, and scoring two touchdowns, the first of which showed off his ridiculous speed as he took a short crossing route 46 yards for a score.
Lockett and Metcalf have now teamed up for more than 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this season, giving the Seahawks one of the best and most productive receiving duos in the NFL.
5. D.J. Reed and so many other stepped up.
As mentioned earlier, the Seahawks came into the game missing a lot of their top players, and while plenty of the players you'd expect stepped up like Wilson, Wagner and Metcalf, the Seahawks also won big because so many players stepped up in new or expanded roles.
Leading the way was D.J. Reed, who was activated off the non-football injury list a day earlier. Reed, who was waived by the 49ers with a non-football injury designation last summer, took over the nickel role from Amadi in his Seahawks debut, and came up with his first career interception against his former team while also recording six tackles and two passes defensed. Reed was also impressive as a blitzer, creating pressure that moved Garoppolo off his spot on both of Wagner's sacks.
Alton Robinson also had a sack starting in place of an injured Mayowa, former tight end Stephen Sullivan saw his first career snaps at defensive end and was in on a tackle for loss on his first play of the game, and as mentioned earlier, Dallas carried the load at running back with Carson and Hyde unavailable. Dallas' overall numbers weren't spectacular—he had 41 yards on 18 carries and 17 receiving yards on five catches—but he took care of the football and score the first two touchdowns of his career, one receiving and one rushing.
The best photos from Week 8's Seahawks-49ers game at CenturyLink Field. Fueled by Nesquik.