ATLANTA — So tension-free were the last few minutes, Marshawn Lynch stood on the sideline with his shoes off, jersey pulled up and helmet on top of a water cooler.
The damage done while Lynch was sealed into his highlighter green cleats was the main reason he was at peace well before the game was over.
Seattle’s most complete win since a Week 2 dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers came in Atlanta on Sunday. Lynch ran for a season-high 145 yards in the 33-10 bludgeoning of the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
“I thought we played a complete football game with great intensity throughout,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Lynch seemed to shove aside tacklers the way the Seahawks pushed away the inconsistency of the past few weeks.
“We’ve been frustrated by it,” Carroll said. “We have not been pleased with the way the games have gone. We haven’t been able to start and finish a game the way we have been capable. I thought today, we did.”
That started with football purity. The Seahawks continue to cling to a run-first approach in the wide-open aerial world of the NFL.
The Seahawks ran the ball 42 times. That was their second-most carries this season trailing the 47 against San Francisco in Week 2. Those two weeks also have the highest carry totals for Lynch this season, 28 against the 49ers and 24 Sunday.
Lynch continues to progress with force. Several times, especially early against the Falcons, Lynch turned poor blocking into positive gains. He bullied with stiff-arms and dragged defenders with churning legs.
Sealed behind his black visor, it’s impossible to tell if Lynch’s
eyes light up when he’s about to crash into a defender. His teammates’ pleasure is visible, however.
“If he’s dominating the game, then, we’ll just go ahead and let him dominate the game,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
Lynch ran for more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week to help the Seahawks to their fifth road victory of the season, tying the franchise record for regular-season road wins set in 2005.
He even received the ball at the goal line against Atlanta, scoring from 3 yards out, sparing offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell another week of questions about why Lynch didn’t get the ball in goal-to-go situations.
The Seahawks finished with 490 yards. Golden Tate had 106 receiving yards, including a spectacular one-handed catch in the back corner of the end zone.
Doug Baldwin had 76 receiving yards on five catches. Jermaine Kearse had 75 yards and a touchdown on three catches, with one coming against his former Washington teammate Desmond Trufant. The two exchanged jerseys postgame.
The Seahawks led, 23-3, by halftime and never trailed. Steven Hauschka hit four field goals in four tries. The defense easily handled the league’s worst rushing offense, allowing just 64 ground yards. The Falcons had a mere 226 total yards. Their only touchdown drive of the day was aided by 35 penalty yards – including two personal fouls – on the Seahawks.
“I think this is our best game all around,” safety Earl Thomas said. “You want to be a championship team, you’ve got to dominate, especially when you get up on teams. You can’t let them back in the game.
“I think early on in the season, when we played the Colts, we kind of let guys back in the game. We did a great job of keeping them down when we had them.”
At 9-1, the Seahawks extended the best start in franchise history. They have the best record in the NFC. And, for one week, leave the field with a panic-free win.