SEATTLE — If you want a picture of how the Seahawks want to play, if you need a tangible explanation of their football philosophy, if you’re looking for a blueprint, check out the tape from Sunday’s dismantling of Dallas.
This is their identity, or at least the identity to which they aspire. This is how good the Seahawks can be, when the special teams are this opportunistic and the defense is this smack-happy and this smart, and the offense is this patient.
“Fast and physical and smart,” special teams leader and fullback Michael Robinson described his team. “That’s us.”
The Seahawks practically pitched a perfect game in their 27-7 home-opening victory over Dallas. It was a win that practically blew away the aberration that was last weekend’s loss in Arizona.
“We’re a smart team. A tough team and a team that plays together,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “We’re very stingy and stubborn and we don’t want to give up anything.”
This is how they do it:
Force mistakes, don’t make them. Hit harder. Play smarter. Be more efficient. Attack the ball on defense. Protect the ball on offense.
Get a lead. Take the heat off rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Put the ball in Marshawn Lynch’s hands and pound it.
Do the little things, like Robert Turbin’s block on one pass play. And Golden Tate’s seismic, crackback on another.
Keep the offense out of third-and-longs. Even better, do as the Seahawks did on their 90-yard, third-quarter touchdown march, where they never had a third down.
And prepare so well that nothing the opposition does comes as a surprise.
“We knew exactly what they were going to be doing out there and we were ready for them,” said cornerback Brandon Browner, who picked off a first-quarter pass from Tony Romo. “We have one more year of experience under our belt now. Our coaches are good at showing us what guys like to do and we tend to take that away.”
This is how they do it:
Robinson forced a fumble from Felix Jones on the opening kickoff, leading to a Steven Hauschka field goal ... 3-0 Seahawks. Four minutes later, Malcom Smith blocked a punt that Jeron Johnson returned for a touchdown ... 10-0 Hawks.
“My first touchdown since high school, the 2005 season,” Johnson said. “My last touchdown was a shanked punt return. I was the short man. I took it 50 yards to the house. I thought there’d be a lot more where that came from. But not until today and this one was better. This was a great moment.
“And this is who we are. We always emphasize the ball. It’s about the ball, getting the ball and protecting the ball. And on defense and special teams, we want to score.”
In the second half, the Hawks’ offense eroded the will of the Cowboys with touchdown marches of 90 and 88 yards, marches that were conservatively and expertly engineered by Wilson. Those two drives swallowed a total of 12 minutes.
“We are the more physical team. That’s who we want to be,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “The corners always are in bump-and-run, press coverage. The safeties are going to be down. They’re going to be hitting.
“Kam Chancellor is going to be enforcing and punishing people. (Safety) Earl Thomas is going to be ballhawking. Linebackers are going to come up and stop the run. D-line is going to stuff the run. And in the pass game, we’re going to bring pressure and we’re going to pop ‘em.”
This was a win that was all wallops and welts. The Seahawks made Dallas look like Portland State. They were more aggressive, more energetic.
“This is the way we’d like to do it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We took care of the football all day. Special teams jumped on it and got something started in beautiful fashion for us. And then we just started pounding away.”
The Seahawks played as if their season depended on it.
“It was something we had to have,” Robinson said. “I called it before the game. It was a must-win for us.”
And on a day this good, it felt like everything was possible for the Hawks. It was one day where promise looked like reality.
“We’re always looking to raise the bar,” said Marcus Trufant, who was part of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season. “And now, man, the sky’s the limit.”