SEATTLE We learned on Sunday the Seahawks can get back their identity, after all.
They can run. They can run -- for 127 yards -- with Christine Michael, the reborn fill-in for injured lead back Thomas Rawls. They can run behind their new offensive line with new starters in four of the five positions, including fill-in right guard J’Marcus Webb.
And they can play defense. Of course, they’ve been doing that for five straight seasons now.
“We’re the best defense in the NFL,” Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett said Sunday.
The Seahawks can get back to their identify they’ve forged in seven seasons, two Super Bowls, an NFL title and four straight playoff appearances under coach Pete Carroll.
At least against San Francisco.
Seattle (2-1, tied atop the NFC West with Los Angeles) won its sixth straight against the 49ers on Sunday, 37-18 in a game that was 37-3 in the fourth quarter. That’s eight out of nine in the series with their division “rival.”
“I thought it was a game that we needed, after the first two weeks we had not really got on track,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We found that feeling about mixing the running game and converting on third down (five for their first six conversions, nine for 14 overall), and ride a defense that is playing terrific football.”
No, this looked and felt absolutely nothing like the opening, 12-10 escape past Miami and the dismal, 9-3 loss at Los Angeles the previous week.
This was the team that scored one touchdown in the first two games scoring two, by Michael -- the first two scores of his four-year career -- in the first quarter while rolling up 137 yards in two drives. This was the maligned line steamrolling the 49ers at the start. Michael looked Marshawn Lynch-like with decisive one cuts behind a collapsing defensive line.
Did this team really lose to the Rams 9-3? Did this 49ers team really beat the Rams 28-0 two weeks ago?
”If we can get big chunk plays like that and get explosive plays right off the bat, that’s huge,” Seahawks right tackle Garry Gilliam said. “It was a huge momentum shifter early.
”That past two games that we had, we’ve known that we’ve left a lot of plays out there and that we could do a lot more. Especially in the run game, which was our emphasis this week. Not that our plan was any different, but just having that pride to go out there and run the ball.
”We’re Seattle. That’s what we do; we run the ball.”
Now, can they do it this coming weekend at the New York Jets (1-2) in the New Jersey Meadowlands? They have a nasty defensive line led by rugged tackle Sheldon Richardson -- but just got whacked 24-3 Sunday at Kansas City.
The Seahawks need to keep running this way into the bye that follows the Jets game, because quarterback Russell Wilson is heading East with both legs injured -- a sprained right ankle and a sprained ligament in his left knee from the third quarter on Sunday.
“This was a really good day for us. We needed this -- badly,” Carroll said. “It really feels to me like we started. I’d like to build on this one and get going, and have another good, solid week next week.
“The first two weeks didn’t feel like we came out of the chutes the way we wanted to.”