During pregame warmups, Bruce Irvin, back for a third stint with the Seahawks, exchanged hugs and pleasantries with a pair of former teammates and Seahawks Legends, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.
Then over the next three hours, Irvin and his teammates, many of them a decade or more younger than him, went about putting on a performance that would have made the Chancellor and Avril-era defenses proud.
With two Legends in the building and with Irvin serving as the bridge to the team's past, a Seahawks defense that was statistically one of the worst in the NFL five games into the season put forth a third consecutive dominant performance to help the Seahawks to a 27-13 win over the New York Giants.
The Seahawks forced three-and-outs on New York's first three possessions, not allowing a first down until the second quarter. They allowed only one touchdown, and that came after a turnover that gave the Giants the ball on the 2-yard line, they held the Giants to just 225 yards and a 3.5 yard-per-play average, and they sacked Daniel Jones five times, giving them 14 in the past three weeks. And most importantly, the Seahawks held a Giants rushing attack that averaged more than 170 yards per game to a total of 78 yards on 28 carries, including just 53 yards on 20 carries for Saquon Barkley, the league's No. 2 rusher coming into Week 8.
Oh, and that soon-to-be 35-year-old who started at outside linebacker and played 72 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps less than three weeks after signing to the practice squad? He was an absolute menace in New York's backfield, nearly sacking Jones multiple times, setting the edge to blow up running plays, and in a play that was equal parts hilarious and impressive, he "tackled" Barkley for a big loss on a toss play by shooting into the backfield and dropping a shoulder into Jones that was so forceful that it sent the Giants quarterback staggering back into the unsuspecting running back, sending Barkley tumbling to the Lumen Field turf.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll described Sunday's victory, which kept the Seahawks in first place of the NFC West at 5-3, as "a really satisfying win" because of how well the team played in all three phases of the game. It was the third week in a row that a much-maligned defense rose to the occasion, and the second straight game in which equally strong performances on offense and special teams led to a somewhat lopsided final score. With Geno Smith and his weapons in the passing game playing so well, and with Rashaad Penny and then Kenneth Walker III making big plays in the running game, the Seahawks offense has been good enough to keep the Seahawks in games regardless of what else was going on. But now that the defense has righted the ship, this Seahawks team is confident it can compete with any team in the league.
"It's really good to have him here," Carroll said of Irvin's return to the team. "He connects us with the history somewhat, and I don't want to make too much of that because these guys don't even know, but he does, and he knows the mentality and kind of just the hardness of how we approach stuff, and he is that. He always has been. I was talking to Kam and Ben (Obomanu) and Cliff before the game, and they know, they can see it, too, that he kind of gives that connection. Look how we're playing. We look like we used to look, and the stadium is rocking like it used to rock, and we're playing the kind of football that gives us a chance to win every time we go out."
Asked what he has seen out of the resurgent Seahawks defense, Irvin echoed his head coach's sentiment that there's a throwback feel to this group.
"Confidence and swagger," he said. "Guys are finally believing in themselves, are believing in one another, and if we have a messed up play, we don't dwell on it, we move onto the next play. If we are giving up yards, we hold them to three. If we hold them to threes, we have a good chance.
"We are starting to get that feeling. We are starting to get that 2012, 2013, 2014 feeling. Guys are confident and we went out here and did what we said we were going to do. We said we were going to stop the run and we were going to give our offense a chance. That's exactly what we did."
Seattle's defensive turnaround has been pretty comprehensive in all phases, from a run defense that was getting gashed less than a month ago to stuffing arguably the league's best running back for three hours on Sunday, to a pass defense that has drastically cut down on explosive plays, to a pass rush that has piled up 14 sacks in three weeks after recording eight in the first five games.
"I think guys are just comfortable with who we are now," said safety and defensive captain Quandre Diggs. "We're understanding things in the coverages, we understand what the weaknesses are in the run game; our big guys are going out, penetrating and doing their deal. I think we all just comfortable just being around each other and understanding everybody's strengths and understand what we do best. The coaches have been phenomenal also. They just kind of let us be ourselves and let us let us take it by the reins and let us figure it out."
With the defense now joining Geno Smith—who as Carroll noted Sunday is showing "he's the real deal"—and the offense in play at an elite level, there's nothing fluky about how the Seahawks are winning games, and this formula feels very sustainable, which is why the team is so confident midway through the season. Then again, this team has been confident from the beginning even if outside expectations didn't match what players and coaches felt like the team was capable of dating back to training camp.
"We've always believed from the jump," Diggs said. "It was never that we didn't believe that we were good, we knew we were good, we just had to put it together. After I talked to you guys after the first quarter of the season, I told you guys, it's just the first quarter, we got to bounce back. And since then, we've reeled off three in a row. So we just got to continue to stay humble. We get one (opportunity) a week, and we got to take advantage of those opps. And that's what we've been doing."
More than anything, this version of the Seahawks—one that has won three in a row behind an explosive and balanced offense, a suddenly dominant defense and great special teams play—has the makings of a first-place team that, more than proving any doubters wrong, is proving themselves right.
"This is really special," Carroll said. "This is a very special opportunity right now. It's been because of all of the hype and the circumstances and all that and the challenge of it and the doubting and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, I like this challenge. I like this whole thing, I've liked it from the start. We wouldn't be here. But the fact the guys are coming through, it's because of the way they've worked and how they're bringing themselves to work every day and how much they care about it. It's a coach's thrill, it really is. That's all we can hope for. I hate that we were crappy early in the year and we weren't doing stuff right, but we held on to it and we felt like we knew where we could go, and we're getting going. All the people that doubt, like you're losing it—we run the ball too much, you don't understand football and you can't stay up with the new game and all that kind of stuff, that's a bunch of crap, I'm telling you. Look, we're doing fine. We're all right. I don't mind proving it day in and day out."
Check out the best sights from the sideline and locker room following a 27-13 win over the New York Giants at Lumen Field.