Russell Wilson was, well, cookin'.
Debuting Jamal Adams was All-Pro-ing.
And the Seahawks soared to just their second season-opening win on the road of the Pete Carroll era.
Wilson completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdown passes, two of them to Atlanta area-native Chris Carson in the first quarter when Seattle raced to a 14-3 lead.
The multiple moves Seattle made this offseason to remake a defense that finished 26th in the NFL last season worked. For the biggest moments it needed to, anyway. The newcomers created a faster unit with bigger plays in the Seahawks' 38-25 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in an opener like no other at empty, artificially noised Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Wilson says week one of his ninth NFL season as Seattle’s starting quarterback is an indication that "we’re going to be a tough football team to beat.
“We are going to score a lot of points.”
Seattle scored its most points in the first road game of a season in 17 years, since September 2003. It was a 38-0 win that year at Arizona.
Carroll and Wilson credited the effectiveness of Seattle’s remote, online Zoom calls for playbook installation.
“Russ was in total command of the game,” Carroll said.
"He had his best throwing day, numbers-wise, just about that you could have. ...
"It’s a sign of how we looked all offseason and preseason, the coach said, reiterating the quality of the first-of-its-kind remote playbook installation all spring into summer because of the coronavirus pandemic shutting NFL team facilities.
"Defensively, you couldn’t help but watch Jamal Adams. I mean, he’s all over the place. He’s an extraordinary football player...he’s got so much fire. He’s an incredible player.
“Does it rub off? Yes.”
Atlanta scored two touchdowns in garbage time late, after Seattle led 31-12 with 10 minutes left.
Asked what keeps him from blitzing Adams every play, as effective as those charges into the backfield were Sunday and in his previous three years starring for the New York Jets before his trade to Seattle in July, Carroll laughed.
“I don’t know,” the coach said. “Maybe we should do that.”
The COVID-19 virus kept all fans from attending but not the Seahawks' offense from rolling.
“It was definitely weird at first,” Adams said, “I’m not going to lie.”
Seattle won for only the second time in seven season openers played on the road in Carroll’s 11 years leading the team. The other time: 2003, 12-7 at Carolina.
Wilson was nearly perfect. If Seahawks' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer continues to call plays as aggressively and throw as often as he did Sunday — 21 throws in the first 35 plays — Wilson might finally get his first career vote for NFL most valuable player.
Heck, he might win it.
Of his four incompletions, only one was truly poorly thrown. DK Metcalf dropped one. One was knocked down at the line of scrimmage. One was low near Metcalf’s feet on third down while Wilson was getting pressured.
The new speed was noticeable on defense, including by Adams all over the field and by end Benson Mayowa. Mayowa, signed this offseason to help offset the loss of departed Pro Bowl veteran Jadeveon Clowney from the pass rush, made two huge stops on two fourth downs with the Falcons threatening to score inside the red zone.
Those were half of Seattle’s four stops of Atlanta on fourth downs. Marquise Blair forced a fumble by the Falcons' blocking back during a fake while the Falcons were in punt formation. Rookie wide receiver Freddie Swain on special teams recovered at the Atlanta 36-yard line in the third quarter.
That set up Wilson’s touchdown pass of seven yards to Greg Olsen, the 35-year-old tight end’s first Seattle score after signing for one year and $7 million in January. That made it 28-12 Seahawks late in the third.
The most dramatic of Wilson’s four TD throws came on fourth down. Metcalf got an inside release on pressing Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver and easily blew past him. Wilson’s pass met Metcalf in stride for a 38-yard score.
Metcalf finished with four catches on eight targets for 95 yards.
Twenty minutes before kickoff, all Seahawks and Falcons players lined up across each of their goal lines and faced each other, arms interlocked. On the giant overhead video board, a recorded, piano rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” played, a song renowned during the Civil Rights Movement and one often called the Black National Anthem.
There were other scenes for the movement demanding racial equality and justice.
Metcalf was among the Seahawks wearing black shirts that read “WE WANT JUSTICE” during pregame warmups.
During the national anthem Quandre Diggs, Marquise Blair, Neiko Thorpe, Shaquill Griffin, Rasheem Green and Jarran Reed sat on the Seahawks bench. Michael Dickson, Ben Burr-Kirven, K.J. Wright took a knee alongside a team athletic trainer.
Adams raised his fist toward the stadium’s open roof.
""I wanted to not only stand strong," Adams said, “but I wanted to show I’m Black and I’m proud to be Black.”
Wide receivers Metcalf and David Moore were among about a half-dozen players who stayed inside the tunnel leading from the locker room to the field during the anthem. They took the field to join their teammates after the anthem ended.
Wilson completed his first 12 passes, five short of the franchise record for consecutive completions in a game. Eight of Seattle’s first 11 plays were throws. Four of those were to Carson.
Carson answered Atlanta’s field goal on the season’s opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown in the right flat on a swing pass from Wilson. That was after Tyler Lockett (eight catches, 92 yards) acted his way into a 41-yard pass-interference foul on Atlanta safety Ricardo Allen — on a third and 23 at midfield. Lockett didn’t even go for Wilson’s jump-ball pass. He just jumped into Allen then threw up his hands to draw the iffy PI penalty. It gave Seattle a first down at the Falcons' 10-yard line.
Carson’s touchdown catch and run came two plays later.
Wilson’s completion to Carson on a screen pass — what used to be a rarity in Seattle’s offense — and Carson’s 19-yard run behind a convoy of blockers gave Seattle a 14-3 late in a breathtakingly paced opening quarter.
The two touchdown receptions for Carson in the quarter equaled the number the running back had in the entire 2019 season.
Then, after Adams stormed in from his roving-safety position to stop Falcons and former Rams running back Todd Gurley for no gain on third and 2, Mayowa ran down Ryan from behind on fourth down for his first sack for Seattle.
Carroll raised both fists toward the round, open hole in the huge, empty stadium’s roof and yelled, “Yeah, baby!” after Mayoway’s sack so loudly you could hear it over the ambient-sound crowd noise the Falcons had pumping into the building’s speakers throughout the game.
Adams blitzed three times in the first half, as Seattle’s defense got pressure with extra pass rushers but struggled to hold down Ryan and the Falcons when it didn’t blitz.
Asked about his blitzing compared to his days with the Jets, Adams had a dig at New York defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams had said after Adams' trade to Seattle that the All-Pro would be “bored” in the Seahawks' relatively basic defense.
Adams couldn’t wait to answer that Sunday.
“I wasn’t bored,” he said, smiling.
“I had fun.”
So did Ryan—at least about as much as a quarterback can in a loss. He completed 37 of 54 passes for 450 of the 506 yards Seattle allowed Atlanta to roll up on offense.
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