Seattle shines even with key starters out
By TIM BOOTH
The Associated Press | September 17,2013
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushes for a touchdown during Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle.
RENTON, Wash. — Given a primetime stage, the Seattle Seahawks again excelled, getting the upper hand in the NFC West.
What’s scary for the rest of their division is just how many key parts the Seahawks expected to be significant contributors that were watching from the sideline on Sunday night when Seattle routed San Francisco 29-3.
The highly awaited showdown between division foes was completely one-sided in favor of Seattle. Marshawn Lynch’s running and a nasty defensive effort that made life miserable for Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin and the rest of San Francisco’s offense.
Seattle (2-0) has outscored San Francisco 71-16 in the past two meetings — both coming at noisy CenturyLink Field — and are in position to hold an advantage on its division rivals until they meet again in December.
“We put this game to rest today clearly I think and that’s why we have `Tell the Truth Monday’ so we all get out of here on the same page and know what is going on and on we go,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
Seattle’s dominating effort against San Francisco came with an array of expected starters out.
Chris Clemons, Seattle’s sack leader for the past three seasons, is just getting back into contact drills after suffering a major knee injury in the Seahawks playoff win at Washington last January.
Carroll said Monday that Clemons should be back in the next two weeks. Starting cornerback Brandon Browner missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
Linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin was out serving the second of a four-game suspension for using banned substances. And Percy Harvin is still rehabilitating from hip surgery in late July with the expectation of returning in the latter half of the season.
That list of absentees from Sunday’s win only amplifies the depth Carroll and general manager John Schneider have built.
Not only does Seattle have the fiercest home field advantage in football, they might be the deepest team in the NFL.
That depth will be put to the test again in the coming weeks with starting left tackle Russell Okung expected to miss at least Sunday’s game against Jacksonville after suffering a toe injury against the 49ers.
Carroll would not go into specifics of Okung’s injury on Monday, other than saying it was unlikely he’d be able to play against the Jaguars.
“There are some options that we’ll deal with here to try and figure it out,” Carroll said. “There is a little bit of a spectrum that could come to us with options. We need to wait and see.”
Even without Clemons or rookie Jordan Hill, and with Cliff Avril missing the opener, Seattle’s defensive line has been stout to begin the season.
They bottled up Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams in the opener at Carolina. Newton was never able to find running lanes outside the pocket and threw for only 125 yards, while Williams rushed for 86 yards but carried only 17 times.
The defensive front was good at causing havoc against the 49ers. Michael Bennett was notable for his ability to get an interior pass rush, something the Seahawks seriously lacked a season ago.
Avril was able to make an impact in his debut with a sack and forced fumble on Kaepernick. Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel were strong in the run game and not letting Frank Gore get going.
Gore finished with nine carries for 16 yards. But the lasting image from Seattle’s defensive line came in the third quarter when Red Bryant knocked All-Pro guard Mike Iupati on his backside and chased Kaepernick out of the pocket.
It was a snapshot of how much of an influence the Seahawks linemen had against the 49ers.
“We should’ve had a nine-sack night. But those things happen and you know we got to get better at that. But we pushed good tonight,” Bennett said.
Despite Seattle starting 2-0 for the first time since 2006, Carroll said he’s concerned about Seattle’s offensive execution. He believes there are yards being missed in the run game and concerned about penalties that have stalled a number of drives.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has not been at his best either. He missed on four of his first five passes to start the game in Carolina, then started just 2 of 10 against San Francisco.
“We’re just not as sharp as we need to be. I think we addressed it today in terms of details and just doing things right and we’re just not as clean as we want to be,” Carroll said. “There is a lot of potential there that we know is still ready to be shown. It’s not just the passing game. In general I think we can be cleaner.”
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