Seattle Seahawks

Graham scores, Chancellor returns in Seahawks’ shutout of Bears

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates with tight end Jimmy Graham, left, after Graham caught a pass from Wilson for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates with tight end Jimmy Graham, left, after Graham caught a pass from Wilson for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Seattle. AP

Jimmy Graham’s grin seemed almost as wide as he is tall.

The 6-foot-7 tight end was beaming as he reached the Seattle Seahawks’ sideline. And for the first time all season, strong safety Kam Chancellor was there.

The team leader, fresh out of his self-imposed, two-month exile, then chest-bumped Graham to celebrate the star tight end’s touchdown catch and run.

Graham’s score finished another Seahawks third-quarter uprising that Tyler Lockett started with his franchise-record, 105-yard kickoff return, untouched. Unlike last week’s loss at Green Bay, the surge was way more than what was needed to subdue the wounded, woeful Chicago Bears.

That’s how the Seahawks overcame both themselves and an injured Marshawn Lynch — who missed the first 12 minutes and then the final two quarters — to manhandle Chicago, 26-0, on Sunday before a team-record crowd of 69,002 in the home opener at expanded CenturyLink Field.

“Rage. Calm rage,” Chancellor said after playing 36 of the 46 defensive snaps in Seattle’s first win of the season, just four days after ending his 54-day holdout. “It’s a dark place.”

Sure was for the Bears.

“You can just see: He makes us whole,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Before the Seahawks (1-2) looked forward to their next test, at home against Detroit on Oct. 5, they dumped Gatorade on new defensive coordinator Kris Richard. That was for both the season’s first victory and for finishing Seattle’s first shutout since December 2013.

It was the first time Chicago had been blanked in 13 years.

“We had some fun with it,” Carroll said. “Took us a while.”

Yes, it was far from the Seahawks’ sharpest day.

The only reason it was so lopsided was because they were playing the Bears.

Chicago (0-3) almost comically malfunctioned, with backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen making his second start in four years, subbing for an injured Jay Cutler. The Bears crossed midfield exactly one time, and had exactly one first down in the game’s final 35:53. They punted a whopping 10 times, the most against the Seahawks in 66 games dating to November 2011.

Sherman said Chancellor’s immediate impact was better communication and continuity within a Seattle defense that had missed assignments and tackles in the first two games.

Carroll said that unit was “excited and comfortable” having its three-time Pro Bowl hitter back.

“He had a special impact,” Carroll said. “And what more can you do? We shut them out.”

After sputtering behind more shoddy pass protection in the first half, Seattle’s Russell Wilson completed all five of his passes for 110 yards in the third quarter, with the 30-yard touchdown pass to Graham. Wilson finished 20 for 30 passing for 235 yards and a touchdown. He got sacked four times.

Graham followed his one-catch night against the Packers with a season-high seven catches for 83 yards against the toothless Bears. But he, like his coach, wasn’t fully satisfied.

“Early in the game, we’ve got to get our tempo right,” Graham said. “We have a lot to learn from this game. Maybe at the end the score doesn’t seem that way, but early we’ve got to correct all that stuff.”

Undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries, playing in place of Lynch, who had been questionable because of a listed calf injury.

“He just told me to hold it down for him,” Rawls said. “And I told him, ‘I’m going to hold it down for you.’ 

Consider it held down. Rawls became the first Seahawks rookie to rush for 100 yards in a game since Robert Turbin’s 108 yards against Arizona on Dec. 9, 2012.

Lynch emerged from the locker room onto the field midway through the first quarter, wearing a cape with its hood up over his helmet and full pads. He looked like a blue phantom.

His first run, for eight yards, came with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter. He ran five times for 14 yards in all, and caught a pass for nine yards and a first down late in the half. Then he left for the rest of the day with a hamstring injury.

Lynch complained of neck pain during the loss last week. So the hamstring was his third injury in eight days.

“He just couldn’t get ready,” Carroll said, noting that Lynch has a “protocol” he follows in the locker room and, as happened last season at Arizona, that process took longer than usual past kickoff.

“Nothing to be alarmed by,” the coach added.

This was: The Seahawks failed to convert on any of their first seven third downs. Ten of Seattle’s first 13 points were directly off of special teams.

Between Sherman’s 64-yard punt return off a misdirection fake that set up the first of Steven Hauschka’s four field goals and Lockett’s record-setting sprint to begin the third quarter, the Seahawks’ offense gained 51 yards on 15 plays while huddling. Seattle more than doubled its total yardage in the first half by then going to a no-huddle scheme for the first time.

“We got the tempo going,” Wilson said.

That 12-play, 77-yard drive ended at the Bears 3 with three consecutive incomplete throws and another field goal by Hauschka. Some in the sun-splashed home crowd booed the 6-0 halftime lead.

Starting with that no-huddle drive, the Seahawks outgained the Bears 320-38 and outscored them 23-0. The final yardage total was Seattle 371, the Bears 146.

“You want to suffocate a team,” Chancellor said. “It sends a statement.”

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com;

@gbellseattle.

MONDAY, Oct. 5: Detroit (0-3) at Seattle (1-2), 5:30 p.m., ESPN, 710-AM, 97.3-FM

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