The Seahawks comfortably dispatched the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 26-0. Granted, the Bears were playing without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but pitching a shutout in the NFL is an impressive feat regardless of the opponent.
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It was a tale of two halves for the Seattle offense. After scoring just 6 points and generally looking lost in the first half, they were spurned on by improved offensive line play in the second half on their way to putting up 20 more points on the day. There are still plenty of problems with the offense, namely the offensive line, but the second half provided plenty of encouraging moments.
The defense and special teams for the Seahawks, however, were dominant. Kris Richard's first shutout as a defensive coordinator became a reality thanks to strong performances on every level of the defense (and the Jimmy Clausen effect). Steven Hauschka was 4/4 on field goals (including two from 45+ yards out) and Tyler Lockett returned a kick for a touchdown and wrote his name in the Seahawks' history book in doing so.
All in all, there was a lot to be encouraged about in this one, as the Seahawks tallied their first win of 2015.
1. Tyler Lockett does the dang thing. Again.
Somehow, Tyler Lockett is already entering into Devin Hester territory, as the kind of guy who you just can't kick to if you want to win the day on special teams. With this 105 yard kick return, Lockett broke the franchise record which was previously held by "Neon" Leon Washington (101 yards, 2012). We need to enjoy every single Lockett return we get before teams just stop kicking to him altogether.
2. Jimmy Graham does Jimmy Graham things.
After Jimmy Graham's lack of targets/receptions against the Packers was discussed ad-nauseam all week, it was easy to see that there was a decided effort to get him the ball early and often in this one. On this play in particular, Graham reminded the league why he is one of the most dangerous pass-catching options around.
3. Russell Wilson is a magician.
While this one didn't have nearly as much impact on the game as our first two featured plays, it was still a nice reminder of what Russell Wilson is capable of, while also allowing the Seahawks to extend a drive and continuing eating up the clock. It's no secret that Russell looked a little out of sorts during the first two weeks of the season, but he came alive in the second half of this one. He looked like his true self as a passer, runner and escape artist.
Chicago Bears: 10 punts, 0 points
The Bears were not a great team with Jay Cutler. No team has ever been great with Jimmy Clausen (aside from Notre Dame). Put the two together, and you end up with something not great. However, not allowing a team to even attempt a field goal is something special, no matter the circumstances. The defense is still far from perfect right now (not being able to force a turnover against Chicago was disappointing), but they are still a dominant group who belongs among the NFL's best.
Thomas Rawls: 16 carries, 104 yards
To be clear, I don't think Thomas Rawls is nearly ready to be a starting NFL running back yet. However, it was hard not to be impressed and intrigued with his performance on Sunday. He ran hard, he kept his legs moving and he didn't give up on any plays. The amount of carries he received also speaks volumes about how the coaching staff feels about him. Do you think Christine Michael would have gotten 16 carries under the same conditions? I tend to think not, especially with Fred Jackson available.
Jimmy Graham: 8 targets, 7 catches, 83 receiving yards, 1 TD
As I mentioned above, there was a clear effort to force-feed Graham the ball on Sunday. Playing against the Bears and their very un-Chicago-like defense gave Bevell and Wilson an opportunity to test some things out with Jimmy, and he showed them what he can do. Take the hint, guys. Keep the targets coming.
--Record attendance on Sunday at the CLink. Of course, it was completely thanks to the new seating available in the South end zone, but still. Seattle fans continue to be the best in the NFL.
69,002 at CenturyLink Field. A #Seahawks record for a home game.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) September 27, 2015
--It seems like someone on the Seahawks throws a monster, gif-worthy block every week. On Sunday, the honors went to fullback Derrick Coleman.
--Marshawn Lynch was not long for this game, but he did provide two fun moments for Seahawks fans on Sunday.
First there was his entrance.
Then, there was this.
I'd say we'll hear more about his status soon. But it's Marshawn Lynch, so no, we won't.
--Remember that time the Bears punt-faked the Packers with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox (despite the phantom penalty)? Remember last year when the Rams punt-faked the Seahawks with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey?
Well, now the Seahawks mashed those two plays together, and punt-faked the Bears with Tyler Lockett and Richard Sherman! It all comes full circles, guys.
What it Means
With the win, the Seahawks move to 1-2 on the season. That puts them in a tie with the San Francisco 49ers and the Saint Louis Rams for last place in the NFC West. Should this worry you right now? Obviously not, silly. There's still so much football to play! Don't waste your time worrying yet!
On the other side, the Arizona Cardinals look quite good. Carson Palmer is slinging it, and the defense is ferocious, even without Todd Bowles. Barring something unforeseen, the Seahawks will almost certainly need to sweep Arizona this year to have a chance at the division title, and a little "Rams against the NFC West" magic wouldn't hurt either.
Up next, the Seahawks have Golden Tate and the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football in Seattle. Matt Stafford on the road? Should be a fun one.
(As always, all gifs are courtesy of gif-maker extraordinaire, Jose Rivera. Follow him on Twitter, now.)