I don’t want to take anything away from the Seattle Seahawks. Their 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers was a big statement win , after the Niners had played so well in a Week 1 win over the Green Bay Packers. And beyond all the “statement” stuff that doesn’t mean much in Week 2, the Seahawks’ win had a big practical effect, in giving them the early lead in a division race that may settle homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs and ultimately who wins the Super Bowl.
My preface to this praise has led you to the correct conclusion that a “but” is coming, and that is this—my biggest takeaway from Sunday night’s game is more the sloppiness of play on both sides, not all of which can be blamed on the lightning storm that caused a long delay just prior to halftime.
The two teams combined for 22 penalties, and each got into double digits. The yardage lost from the yellow laundry neared the 200 point. The pass protection was not very good, with San Francisco getting four sacks and Seattle getting three. When you consider that the quarterbacks in question where Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, it makes you wonder how bad it might have been had a conventional slow dropback passer been in the game.
Finally, the deciding factor was San Francisco’s completely inability to take care of the ball. They lost two fumbles and Kaepernick threw three interceptions. While Seattle was no prize in this area, Wilson only threw one interception and no fumbles were lost. A 5-1 turnover margin is way too much in any game, much less a battle like this one.
Even though my biggest takeaway from this game is the poor quality of play, Seattle still made one very significant positive step—they ran the football. Marshawn Lynch ground out 98 yards on 28 carries and the team overall went for 172. While Lynch’s yards-per-rush wasn’t high, this is against a good run defense and it showed the Seahawk rush game hadn’t lost its mojo after a poor showing in Week 1.
San Francisco, on the other hand, has now failed to run the ball effectively in two straight games. While the quality of competition has been pretty high, the conventional wisdom says the Seahawks and Packers are the two teams Frisco needs to beat in order to get back in the Super Bowl. And after just missing a title in 2012, that’s the only goal that matters in northern California.
There is a long way to go, and we have to extremely careful about not rushing to broad-based conclusions in the excitement of the early weeks of the season. The long grind is still ahead. But it seems apparent that both Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have plenty to work on if their teams are going to meet expectations this season. At least Carroll is the one doing it at 2-0 and secure that his team held serve at home in the first a long, drawn-out fight.