The last time a defending Super Bowl champ won a playoff game the next season was the 2005 New England Patriots, coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the two seasons prior to that. Which is a really roundabout way to say that the Seattle Seahawks are who we thought they were, or at least they look like it after opening the season with a 36-16 blowout win over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
I should remind you that Green Bay was also a pretty popular Super Bowl pick just a few days ago. Not as popular as Seattle, though, and this game is a pretty good reminder why that's the case.
Alright, we'll hold off giving the Seahawks another Lombardi Trophy. It's only the first game of the season. But don't say we didn't warn you.
Week 1, Packers vs. Seahawks
1a. Seattle's offense looks like a force. Yes, there was THAT PLAY (more on that in a minute), but even without it the Seahawks offense was a regular rolling thunder review. The most notable difference was Percy Harvin, who only saw action in part of one game last year. Darrell Bevell made the jet sweep positively lethal with Harvin's speed, and he finished the game with 41 rushing yards on four attempts and caught seven passes for 59 yards.
Was anyone legitimately concerned that Marshawn Lynch's holdout could be a problem? It looked like the time off did him some good. He played exactly like we're used to seeing him play (you may have thought that I was going to say "Beast Mode," but Lynch explained here why that nickname's about more than just the way he runs on the field). Green Bay's defense didn't need any help missing tackles, but Lynch was kind enough to give them some anyway. 110 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns is a nice way to start the season.
I should've written my MVP prediction in pencil, because I'd like to erase Aaron Rodgers' name and write in Russell Wilson.
And, hey, remember when everyone was worried about Seattle's offensive line?
1b. THAT PLAY
The informed football consumer recognizes that play as a pop pass, mastered by Gus Malzahn's Auburn offense and profiled in-depth here. There are other names for it, but, please, just don't call it this ...
Gimmick— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) September 5, 2014
It's not a gimmick. You'll see this more, albeit gradually because so much of the NFL is weary of innovation. Not Pete Carroll's Seahawks, which is a handy reminder about why they're the defending Super Bowl champs and a popular pick to be the defending Super Bowl champs again this time next year.
The pop pass also had Dom Capers' defense thoroughly confused, a recurring theme since Green Bay won Super Bowl XLV in Jan. 2011. And it wasn't even the first time rookie safety HaHa Clinton-Dix has seen it.
2. Speaking of Green Bay's defense ... There wasn't much to like if you're a Packers fan. Green Bay's defense was supposed to be better after a good draft and a marquee free agent signing in Julius Peppers. He and Clay Matthews teamed up for a sack that was negated because of a penalty.
Cornerback Sam Shields was re-signed for to a four-year, $39 million deal. He wasn't awful, except for when the Seahawks offense caught him peeking into the backfield or when he was missing tackles. But other than that, he was fine.
Speaking of missed tackles, I know what the Packers are going to be practicing this week.
Ted Thompson's face pretty much says it all.
3. Earl Thomas & Richard Sherman on punt return team -- WHY? I can't believe Seattle invested about a $104 million in a pair of guys for their punt return team. No wait, that's safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman, two of the best defensive backs in the NFL today and a big part of why Seattle is so good in the first place ... because of their play on defense, not on special teams. Even Al Michaels' robust new toupee knows that using these two on the special teams unit is, at best, a questionable decision.
Green Bay got hit hard by the injury bug. Bryan Bulaga left early in the third quarter with a knee injury, the same knee in which a torn ACL put him on the shelf last season. That's a big concern for the Packers. A healthy Bulaga anchoring the right side of the line is being counted on as a key ingredient to a especially potent Packers offense. We'll see how serious it is. Losing Bulaga for an extended period of time won't necessary torpedo Aaron Rodgers and that offense , but it is a trouble spot for a team that a lot of people picked to come out on top of a tough NFC race.
Worse, Eddie Lacy left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. If he does in fact have a concussion, he'll be out of the lineup indefinitely, until he can get through the league's concussion protocol.
Tight end Richard Rodgers left with a sting on the same play where Bulaga got hurt.
Nickel corner Jeremy Lane injured his groin early in the third quarter and did not return.