Seahawks win first game in the Pete Carroll era
After looking lifeless to start the game, the Seahawks score 28 points in a seven-minute span to beat the 49ers 31-6
Seattle Times staff reporter
That was the path Pete Carroll chose after the first offensive play of this new chapter in Seahawks history wound up in San Francisco's lap. Matt Hasselbeck's first pass in Sunday's season opener was intercepted by 49ers cornerback Nate Clements, a hush descended over Seattle, and the coach opted to keep quiet when it came to his quarterback.
"I said absolutely nothing to him," Carroll said. "I did a great job of not talking to him."
Two quarters later, Qwest Field was again a stew of serious decibels. And it was the 49ers searching for a way to explain Seattle's 31-6 victory at Qwest Field, because its comeback was enough to leave plenty speechless.
Just not Carroll.
"We answered the opportunity," he said of his Seahawks.
Did they ever.
Seattle scored four touchdowns in a seven-minute span, reeled off 31 consecutive points and pulled off a turnaround was nothing short of remarkable.
For 20 minutes, Seattle looked hopelessly familiar. The offense was totally inert, failing to gain so much as a single first down. And while the defense kept the Seahawks in the game, that couldn't be expected to continue considering how much time the unit spent on the field.
New era, new coach, same old Seahawks.
"We couldn't have had a worse start," Carroll said.
Then something remarkable happened. The team that had caved in so dramatically last December found its resolve.
Hasselbeck — the quarterback who was picked off on his first pass attempt — completed 16 of his next 20 throws and rushed for his first touchdown since 2005, scoring on a 1-yard bootleg.
Jordan Babineaux — the safety who was cut last Monday, only to re-sign on Tuesday — corralled a deflection off 49ers reception Michael Crabtree in the final minutes of the first half and returned the interception to the San Francisco 13. The Seahawks scored on the next play.
Marcus Trufant — the cornerback who was never really himself last season — intercepted a pass in the first minute of the second half, returning it 32 yards for a touchdown.
When Deion Branch scored on a 3-yard pass less than four minutes later, it completed a comeback so sudden there was danger of whiplash.
"Those are games that you dream for," linebacker Aaron Curry said.
Curry was part of a defense that kept Seattle in the game as the offense ground its gears through the first third of the game — a stretch in which the Seahawks had 11 yards of total offense, committed a turnover and had no first downs, giving San Francisco a prohibitive edge in field position. The 49ers started two of their first three possessions in Seattle's half of the field, and reached the red zone on all three drives.
Yet all that produced a total of six points. The 49ers were held to a pair of 23-yard field goals sandwiched around a fourth-down stop at the Seattle 6. At the point of the second field goal, the 49ers had held the ball for 19 minutes, 58 seconds of the first 23:37 played.
"The defense hung in there and gave us a chance until we finally got something going," Carroll said.
The momentum built gradually. The Seahawks finally gained a first down, by way of a penalty, with five minutes left in the first half. Then tight end Cameron Morrah caught a pass from Hasselbeck for an 11-yard gain and another first down.
On second down, Hasselbeck pump-faked toward Mike Williams, getting 49ers cornerback Nate Clements to step forward. That left Williams wide open and he ran a double move, caught the ball, ran back inside and got all the way to the 1-yard line.
Hasselbeck scored on the next play, and Seattle never looked back. Babineaux's interception on the 49ers' next possession set up Seattle inside the red zone. Hasselbeck found Deon Butler for a 13-yard touchdown, the first of the receiver's career.
"We finally got something going and scored," Carroll said. "Then we scored again. Then before you know it, we're getting out there and putting a good game together."
The result was a turnaround that Seattle can only hope sets the tone for this next chapter in franchise history.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
|Until recently, Seahawks head coaches usually debuted with a defeat.|
|Pete Carroll||Sept. 12, 2010||49ers||W, 31-6|
|Jim Mora||Sept. 13, 2009||Rams||W, 28-0|
|Mike Holmgren||Sept. 12, 1999||Lions||L, 28-20|
|Dennis Erickson||Sept. 3, 1995||Chiefs||L, 34-10|
|Tom Flores||Sept. 6, 1992||Bengals||L, 21-3|
|Chuck Knox||Sept. 4, 1983||Chiefs||L, 17-13|
|Mike McCormack||Nov. 21, 1982||Broncos||W, 17-10|
|Jack Patera||Sept. 12, 1976||Cardinals||L, 30-24|