SEATTLE — A little thunder. A little lightning. A little delay to start. A whole lot of boom to finish.
Once the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers got moving after an hour delay for lightning and a sloppy first half, the host Seahawks warmed up and sent CenturyLink Field into a record-breaking tizzy with a 29-3 victory on Sunday night.
Seahawk fans got what they wanted for a heavily hyped Week 2 matchup of NFC West rivals. It is a Christmas-in-September to remember.
• The crowd screamed itself hoarse to set a Guinness Book of World Record for loudest sports stadium in the world. Guinness officials recorded 136.6 decibels in the third quarter to set the record, beating two soccer games in Turkey that registered 131.76 decibels in 2011.
• The defense took advantage of a cold Niners squad to limit them to just over 200 yards of net offense. And three interceptions of third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped the offense out as well. San Francisco finished with five turnovers, the most with head coach Jim Harbaugh at the helm. Four of those turnovers came from Kaepernick.
• Marshawn Lynch gave the home fans an image to savor and send to their Niner friends for the next several decades — nonchalantly stepping over the goal line for the second of his three touchdowns of the game in the third quarter. Lynch finished with 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns, plus three catches for 37 yards and one score. Skittles all around, Seattle.
• Seahawks fans will have more trash-talking ammo to throw at Niner fans for the next three months, until the two teams meet again in San Francisco in week 14 (Dec. 8). Seattle also took the overall series lead at 15-14, but that is just small potatoes in this new NFL flame war.
“It was a lot of fun to hear and see the fans lift themselves up and produce like they did,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “It was so much fun to be in that stadium. The guys felt it and played to it. They put it together tonight. It wasn’t clean; we have a lot of problems offensively, but the defense was so on tonight, it didn’t matter.”
The second half of this game doesn’t tell the complete story. For that, you have to look at a long, boring first half highlighted by an hour-long weather delay for thunder and lightning.
In fact, the delay was the best thing to happen to Seattle. And, it was the worst thing to happen to San Francisco.
Neither team was playing well, but the Seahawks were downright dreadful. Seattle had a punt blocked, possibly aided by a fan blowing a whistle. Quarterback Russell Wilson was picked off by Eric Reid when wide receiver Golden Tate fell down. A successful punt ended the Seahawks’ third drive of the game.
San Francisco had some offense in the first portion of the game, but no points to show for it. Good field position after the blocked punt was squandered when Kaepernick tried to thread a bullet pass to tight end Vernon Davis at the goal line. The tipped ball fell into the hands of free safety Earl Thomas.
Then, the lightning struck. The thunder rolled. The teams were told to go back to the locker rooms. The fans headed for the beer vendors. Media members covering the game became amateur meteorologists.
One hour later, the teams returned. The fans stumbled back into their seats. NBC stopped playing highlights of the earlier games and veteran play-by-play man Al Michaels stopped talking about the weather.
“Once that lightning strike hit and we were in the locker room for about an (hour), we revamped,” Wilson said.
The second-year QB was 0-for-7 in pass attempts before the delay and the offense had just 27 net yards of offense.
He finished 142 yards on 8-for-19 attempts, one score, one interception.
“Personally, I took a shower and restarted my mind,” Wilson added. “I treated it like it was a new game. I think we did a great job of that. Coach Carroll talked to us, made sure we were all on the same page and it was a new game, new opportunity.”
“Russell came out of the shower and looked like a bad man,” third-year cornerback Richard Sherman crowed. “So I knew we were all right after that. We listened to a lot of music. I partied with the defensive linemen a little bit. We did some dance moves and had a good time.”
“It was a great opportunity for us to make adjustments and we did; I believe they did, too,” Carroll said. “We coached throughout the time, except for when the music was playing too loud in the locker room.”
San Francisco fans can stop reading at this point. Seattle fans can tell you what happened verbatim.
The Niners went 3-and-out, gave up a safety on their second drive, saw Kaepernick lose a fumble on a sack/forced fumble by Cliff Avril and punted twice before halftime. The Niners’ play on both sides of the field was flat and never matched the intensity showed before the delay.
“I’m certainly not proud of the way that we played tonight or coached,” San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It was not our finest hour. I don’t think any of us are proud of our performance.”
The Seahawks got on track offensively with two long drives, but only got a 30-yard field goal from kicker Steven Hauschka for that historic 5-0 halftime lead. According to ESPN Stats, the game was the sixth in NFL history to finish halftime with a 5-0 score.
“We were going up against a very good football team in the Niners and we’re a good football team, too,” Wilson said. “We knew it would be like this. The team that could continue to fight and stay mentally strong and make the plays would win.”
Seattle hit big to start the second half. Wilson’s 51-yard deep fly to Doug Baldwin set up Lynch’s first touchdown of the night, a 15-yard “no 49ers players touched him” scoring run for a 12-0 lead.
San Francisco responded, but failed to truly capitalize on what turned into its last trip into Seattle’s red zone — a 21-yard field goal by kicker Phil Dawson. Kaepernick had one big run, a 28-yard scramble, and one big throw, to Vance McDonald for 19 yards, to pace the drive.
Then, Lynch took the game away from the Niners — on the scoreboard and psychologically. Early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks capped a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive when Wilson found Lynch wide open for a 7-yard touchdown pass play.
Well, it was more of a walk than a pass play. Lynch was so wide open, he hopped over the goal line under no pressure from a Niner defender. The stadium crowd exploded with delight.
“He told me he wanted to knock a few seconds off the clock,” Wilson added about Lynch’s walk-in touchdown.
The 19-3 score became Mount Rainier to San Francisco when Sherman picked off Kaepernick over his shoulder and above tight end Vernon Davis on the near sideline.
Sherman ran the ball back into Niners territory, then joined the Seahawks’ cheerleaders for an impromptu dance session to show off his moves. Hauschka nailed a 37-yard field goal minutes later.
Kam Chancellor got the third interception of the night for the defense late in the game and nearly made it a pick-6. He was stopped at the Niner 2-yard line. One play later, Lynch plunged in for the final score of the night.
Even before Lynch belly-flopped into the end zone, Seahawk fans in the stadium were serenading the 49ers and their fans with “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Good Bye” and “It’s All Over.” There were other chants, too, but this is a family newspaper.
In the end, the Seahawk fans got what they wanted. The Seahawks got what they wanted, too — the win, a 2-0 record and an early edge on their division rival.
“The guys are very prideful about this game, because of the team we were facing,” Carroll said. “We took this game very seriously, like a championship game. We’ll do that next week, regardless of who comes in here. (San Francisco is) a tremendous football team. They went to the Super Bowl last year. Jim has done a great job since he got there. We respect them tremendously. They’re going to win a bunch of games this year.”
So will the Seahawks this season, inside their now-certified world’s loudest sports stadium.
Rob Burns is a Daily World sports writer. He can by reached at (360) 537-3926 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Rob on Twitter at @RobRVR.