By Danny O'Neil
ATLANTA – The ball wobbled.
That didn't make Marshawn Lynch's throw any less effective. But if we're being honest, he didn't manage anything resembling a spiral on the trick play that turned out to be the most spectacularly unexpected moment in the most straightforward victory of this Seahawks season.
Lynch took the pitch, ran to his right only to stop and throw the ball back to Russell Wilson. Seattle's quarterback caught the backward pass, pivoted like any great second baseman and threw downfield to Jermaine Kearse, who outjumped the man defending him for a 43-yard touchdown.
But about that throw from Lynch?
"He threw a strike, I will say that," Wilson said. "I wouldn't call it a ball. It was a strike, but a little wobbly."
And that was as close as you could come to criticizing Lynch, the trick play that produced Seattle's first touchdown against the Falcons or anything else Seattle did in this 33-10 victory over Atlanta.
"Our most complete game of the year," coach Pete Carroll said. "One that we have been waiting for."
No questions about this one. No caveats. No last-minute escape like in St. Louis when the Seahawks held the Rams off at the 1-yard line. No 21-point deficit like Seattle had to overcome last week at home against the winless Bucs.
After struggling to stop the run the past two weeks, Seattle held Steven Jackson and the Falcons to 64 yards rushing. (AP)
After two weeks of nailbiting, the Seahawks traveled across the country and just hammered an Atlanta team that had bounced Seattle out of the playoffs 10 months earlier.
That trick play may have been a headline from the game, but it wasn't the story. Not even close. This was about a team rediscovering its steel-toed toughness up front on both sides of the ball as the Seahawks rushed for 211 yards and allowed only one sack while holding the Falcons to 64 yards rushing.
"The most important thing is what's happening at the line of scrimmage," Carroll said.
Lynch has rushed for 270 yards over the past two games, the highest two-week total in his career. Yep, that's right. Seattle has never ran the ball better with Lynch than it has these past two games, which serves as a fairly convincing answer to any questions about this team's identity on offense.
"Marshawn always sets the tempo for us," Carroll said. "He has been playing so consistently, so aggressively."
Seattle rushed for 211 yards in Atlanta even while playing without three starting offensive linemen, all of whom may be back as soon as this week.
The Seahawks punted only twice while their defense didn't allow Atlanta to get inside Seattle's 20 until the second half of the third quarter, and that happened only after a series of suspect penalties. Even the special teams chipped in with four field goals – including a season-long kick of 53 yards – and a 32-yard punt return by Golden Tate.
The Falcons gained more yards off Seahawks penalties (80) than their from own running game (64). They completed just two passes of more than 15 yards and trailed by more than 20 points by the time receiver Roddy White caught his first pass.
For two weeks, the Seahawks made everyone hold their breath. This was a chance to not only exhale but shout about a team that is 9-1, atop the NFC and playing four of its final six regular-season games at home.
"They really – across the board – made a statement today," Carroll said, "about how hard they can play from the first minute to the last minute."
And in doing so, Seattle showed just how tough it will be to face this team going forward.