On Saturday, NCAA football powerhouse Ohio State humiliated Florida A&M 76-0, while the seventh-ranked Louisville Cardinals beat up on Florida International 72-0. On Sunday, it was the Seahawks turn to pummel a team from the sunshine state, as Seattle crushed the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-17 in a game that spotlighted the talent gap between arguably the NFL’s best and worst teams.
Russell Wilson tied a career high with four touchdown passes and finished the game 14 of 21 for 202 yards...with 3:54 left in the third quarter, when backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson came in as a mercy replacement (and added two more touchdowns). Meanwhile, Seattle’s defensive unit continued to look like the NFL’s best, picking off Jaguars QB Chad Henne twice, recovering a fumble, and holding the Jaguars to just 4 of 14 on third down conversions.
Wins like yesterday’s are measured differently than those against tough divisional opponents like the 49ers; it wasn’t so much whether the Seahawks would pull off the victory but by how much and in what way. Some Las Vegas casinos favored the Seahawks by as much as 20 points, “the biggest spread in Seahawks history [and] among the 10 largest in the NFL in the past 40 years,” according to the Seattle Times. The Seahawks blew past it, winning by 28.
“I’m fired up for us that we played up, just the way we should,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at his press conference after the win. “I know a lot of people expected and asked questions about letdowns and all that kind of stuff. We didn’t see it that way at all. And the guys really understood and demonstrated [that] by the week’s preparation.”
“The most important thing to report is we had four penalties,” Carroll said, omitting the crucial qualifier “only.” Excessive penalties had been the biggest of the team’s few problems in their first two victories. “That’s awesome, four penalties,” Carroll repeated to vigorous head nods among the 12th Man.
Offensive and defensive highlights were plentiful. Wilson’s second touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller came off of a dazzling pump-fake-spin move from the young quarterback, who is now 10-0 at home in his career. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner came up with an amazing interception on a deflected pass by tipping the ball to himself. And Doug Baldwin made a spectacular one-handed, 35-yard TD catch from Tavaris Jackson, who went 7 of 8 for 129 yards after subbing in for Wilson.
Sure, the fine-looking effort came at the expense of the consensus pick for worst team in football, the 0-3 Jaguars. But the Jaguars couldn’t do much of anything on offense or defense, despite the competitive advantage held by their head coach, former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. His team trailed 31-0 midway through the third quarter before finally tallying their first score on a Maurice Jones-Drew TD run that resulted from a Wilson interception deep in Seahawks territory.
Still, as the margin of victory indicates, this was a game that was won by Seattle far more than it was lost by Jacksonville. And with the rest of the NFC West all losing their games and falling to 1-2, a cushion could develop between the Seahawks and the rest of the division as the season wears on.
If yesterday’s game was any indication, don’t expect Seattle to sit on it.