Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks play like champs in opener, roll Packers, 36-16

Marshawn Lynch stomped into the end zone for another touchdown like someone had just stolen his favorite hoodie and turned off his stereo.

Michael Bennett threw down Aaron Rodgers for a safety like he was an old foam Cheesehead.

Percy Harvin? The Seahawks’ rejuvenated receiver/fly-sweep rusher/kick returner zoomed past Packers like they were telephone poles. He had 160 all-purpose yards, yet his coach said “there’s a bunch of other stuff that we’ll do.”

So this is what defending a Super Bowl championship looks like.

It looked plenty like how the Seahawks won it all last season.

“I thought it was a continuation,” coach Pete Carroll said following the defending champ’s 36-16 victory in the NFL opener Thursday night.

Lynch plowed a smaller, speedy Green Bay defense for 110 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. That and three huge plays by Seattle’s thudding defense in the second half turned a 10-10 game into yet another home-field party for the delirious announced crowd of 68,424 — the most for a regular-season game in CenturyLink Field history.

“I don’t know if this was a statement. This is just who we are,” Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said.

“There is greatness around us.”

After Soundgarden and Pharrell Williams rocked the sun-backed fans with a pregame concert in the stadium’s North Lot and the NFL championship banner was unveiled atop the west upper deck, the Seahawks rolled in their first game ever as a defending Super Bowl winner.

“Obviously, we were the more physical team offensively and defensively,” said Bennett, whose sack and an ensuing safety made it 22-10 in the third quarter, part of Seattle’s 19 unanswered points. “We saw some of the best players — supposedly some of the best players — in the league who didn’t want to tackle Marshawn Lynch.”

Seattle is now 16-1 at home since 2012. The average score of those parties is 30-13.

Russell Wilson completed 19 of his 28 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. The second one, with 2:31 left, was 15 yards in the flat to fullback Derrick Coleman on fourth-and-1. Two plays earlier, Coleman had to leave the game briefly because his helmet and hearing aid had been ripped off by a Packer.

In the end, all Coleman and his teammates could hear were the roars.

“What a great celebration,” Carroll said.

Byron Maxwell had been targeted throughout the game as Rodgers stayed away from Seahawks All-Pro Richard Sherman; that will be a theme all season. Rodgers threw 33 passes, none in Sherman’s direction.

That meant none of the other 10 Seahawks had to defend a third of the field. And 10 Seahawks manning just two-thirds of the field has proven to be a mismatch for offenses the last two seasons.

The Packers had just one touchdown in the first 3½ quarters and finished with only 255 total yards. Rodgers had but 189 yards passing while getting sacked three times and turning the ball over twice.

“This is the Seattle Seahawks — they are a great defense,” Rodgers said.

His first five passes at Maxwell netted Green Bay three first downs and a completion to the Seattle 2 before the Packers’ touchdown run. That made it 7-3 midway through the first quarter.

“That’s what it’s going to be all year long,” Maxwell said. “I don’t take it personally. I take it as an opportunity.”

Opportunity knocked on Rodgers’ sixth pass at Maxwell, with the Seahawks leading 17-10 in the third quarter. Slanting slot receiver Jordy Nelson had the wide pass attempt go off his hands. Maxwell picked off the deflection behind Nelson to set up Steven Hauschka’s 20-yard field goal to make it a two-score game.

That started Seattle’s run of 19 unanswered points.

On the next Packers drive, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril sped around right tackle Derek Sherrod, who was only in the game because starter Bryan Bulaga was knocked out in the second quarter with a knee injury. Avril’s clean sack of the helpless Rodgers gave the Seahawks a turnover on downs at midfield. That field position gain for Seattle resulted in Jon Ryan’s punt deep in Packers territory.

Then on first down Bennett took his turn beating fill-in Sherrod with a two-hand slap move. Bennett hit Rodgers from behind at the 2-yard line and knocked the ball free into the end zone. Sherrod landed on the ball for a safety and a 22-10 lead for Seattle.

By the time Lynch defiantly stomped around left end and into the end zone from 3 yards out for his second rushing touchdown, Seattle led 29-10 one play into the fourth quarter.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, often one of only two linebackers on the field as Seattle played primarily with five defensive backs until nickel back Jeremy Lane reinjured his groin in the third quarter, tied his career high with 14 tackles.

All in all, a night fit for a champion. And yet another party at CenturyLink Field.

“We’re so fortunate to play with a fan backing that is like this,” Carroll said. “It’s just a perfect match for a team that is ready to do some cool things.”


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