They clapped. They roared. They slapped high-fives. Some used cellphone cameras to take panoramic photos of the scene.
Football-hungry Seahawks fans started doing all these well before Friday night’s exhibition game even began, and they got plenty more opportunities to display their delight as the home team downed the San Diego Chargers 41-14 before a sellout crowd of 67,615 at CenturyLink Field.
“We’re talking Super Bowl, baby. We’re going back,” pronounced Jeff Breisacher, a 10-year Seahawks season-ticket holder who had been counting the weeks to this, the Seahawks’ first home game of the exhibition season. “We’ve got the team.”
By the time the outcome was no longer in doubt, the Seahawks had not only satisfied their regular patrons, but inspired some newer ones as well.
“It was everything I thought it would be,” said Julie Vaughn of Snoqualmie, attending her first Seahawks game. “I love the fans, I loved the energy ... I’ll be back any chance I can get.”
Vaughn moved from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003 and has plenty of relatives whose wrath she is incurring by becoming a Hawks fan. She found the seats to Friday’s game offered on a Facebook page of Richard Sherman fans.
Fans arriving early Friday soaked up the atmosphere in the venue where the Seahawks have lost only one regular-season game in the past two seasons.
“It’s just incredible to be here,” said Anthonie Barnes, 26, of Spokane, who sports a Seahawks tattoo on his left arm. He managed to lean over a rail and get Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll to autograph his hat before the game. “I’m going to have to build a case to put this in,” Barnes said.
The delight of Seahawks fans heightened as they got to see some of the team’s marquee players do what they do best: Russell Wilson scrambling into the end zone. Robert Turbin running it up the middle. Percy Harvin catching passes. The defense thwarting Chargers efforts.
“This is pretty much what I expected, and it’s great to see,” said Kevin Cure of Bremerton, who was taking his mother, Kristy Cure of Yakima, to her first Seahawks game.
Her verdict: “The energy level is just amazing,” she said. “It’s fantastic.”
Fan after fan interviewed at Friday’s game said any win would be better than a loss, but that there’s a more important task at hand — determining which of these players can best help return the Seahawks to a Super Bowl berth.
“Some of these guys will never set foot on an NFL field again. It’s just great to see what they can do when they get their shot,” said Matthew Reeves of Seabeck, Kitsap County.
The numbers back him up: The 90-man force that lined the Seahawks’ sideline Friday night must be cut to 53 by Aug. 30, less than a week before the regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle Sept. 4.
Reeves’ brother, Luke, foresees the Seahawks surviving a bumpy season ahead, going 10-6 in the regular season, but earning a return trip to the Super Bowl.
“And I’m saying they’ll be undefeated at home,” Luke Reeves said.
Some fans noted the high energy level at Friday night’s game stemmed from the fact that this was their first chance to see the team play in person since the NFC Championship Game in January, when the Seahawks held off a late drive to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17.
That victory sent the Seahawks to their second Super Bowl, where they demolished the Denver Broncos, 43-8.
“I was ecstatic,” said Linda German, of Lake Tapps, a longtime Seahawks season-ticket holder who was at the NFC Championship Game.
The key play, in which Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a 49ers pass into the hands of teammate Malcolm Smith for an interception, happened right in front of her.
“It was like it was happening in slow motion,” she said. “Just amazing.”
Not only is she anticipating more amazement in the upcoming season, German has already arranged for a place to stay next February in Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX.