SEATTLE — Golden Tate circled back around and lined up Sean Lee with a crushing block that sent the burly Dallas linebacker flat to his back with his cleats in the air.
The Seattle Seahawks didn’t just beat the Cowboys on Sunday. They physically knocked them around.
Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Seattle’s special teams came up with two huge first-quarter plays that led to 10 points, and the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-7 on Sunday.
Lynch might be the personification of the style the Seahawks want to play with. And he fit the bill, running for 104 yards in the second half and finishing with 26 carries. But that physicality stretched beyond just Lynch. Dallas tight end Jason Witten, while gallantly catching passes across the middle, was knocked around like a pinball from the likes of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker K.J. Wright.
Then there was Tate. The slight receiver who missed last week’s opener at Arizona with a knee injury knocked Lee flat with a block that didn’t draw a flag but very well might lead to a fine.
Still, the point was made: These Seahawks aren’t soft.
“You hit a guy long enough, they’ll start feeling it,” Wright said. “They’ll start turning their head around and dropping passes, so we did a good job of that.”
Before Seattle could start making big hits, it was staked to a 10-0 lead in less than 5 minutes. Michael Robinson forced Felix Jones to fumble on the opening kickoff that led to a short field goal, and Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones’ punt which Jeron Johnson returned for a touchdown to give Seattle (1-1) the early advantage.
Turned out those 10 points were all the Seahawks needed.
“We played well. We prepared well. We knew exactly what they were going to be doing out there and we were ready for it,” cornerback Brandon Browner said.
Rookie Russell Wilson threw for 151 yards in his first NFL victory, directing a 90-yard scoring drive in the third quarter capped by a 22-yard touchdown strike to Anthony McCoy to give Seattle a 20-7 lead. Wilson was 15 of 20 passing, including 6 of 8 in the second half, and a passer rating of 112.7. Steven Hauschka kicked field goals of 21 and 25 yards for the Seahawks, who rebounded from a disappointing season-opening loss at Arizona where Seattle failed to score in the closing seconds.
Lynch had just 22 yards at halftime, but Seattle dominated possession in the second half, running 38 plays compared to just 19 for the Cowboys. His dynamic 36-yard run in the third quarter included Lynch carrying tacklers in the open field and helped setup Wilson’s strike to McCoy.
“We stuck with our game plan: Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and eventually they’re going to get tired,” Tate said. “Our motto is play longer and harder than they can and then it started opening up in the pass game.”
From the opening kickoff, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and the Cowboys were playing from behind. Jones’ fumble was recovered by Earl Thomas at the Dallas 29. The Seahawks drove to the 3, but Wilson’s third-down pass for Sidney Rice was nearly intercepted by Bruce Carter and Seattle settled for the first of two short field goals from Hauschka.
Dallas (1-1) went three-and-out on its first possession with the drive stalling after Witten dropped a third-down pass. The Cowboys’ punt barely left Jones’ foot as Smith reached out with his right hand to block the kick, which one-hopped perfectly into the hands Johnson, who strolled in for the Seahawks’ second blocked punt return for a touchdown in their last six games dating to last season.
Romo finished 23 of 40 for 251 yards and one touchdown to Miles Austin, but was able to direct only one scoring drive despite having extra time to prepare for the Seahawks. Dallas was trying to open the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2008, but now heads home to face Tampa Bay wondering if they’re more like the team that knocked off the New York Giants in the season opener or the one that flopped in Seattle.
Romo was also unable to get rid of the demons from his last visit to Seattle — the 2006 NFC wild-card game in which Romo bobbled the snap of a potential winning field goal in the final minutes then was tripped up on his way to the end zone short of the winning score.
“We had a lot of opportunities to do some things in the game, whether it was, like I said, either a mental breakdown or a physical error,” Romo said. “And that’s everybody, it wasn’t one guy and it’s not just the offense, but also special teams, we obviously made some mistakes and we just got to be better in all capacities.”
Dallas had 112 total yards in the first quarter and just 184 over the final three quarters — 51 of those coming in the final minute of the game. DeMarco Murray, who ran for 139 yards last year against Seattle, was held to just 44 yards on 12 carries.
“When he comes through that hole, you’ve got to make him feel you. Every time you touch him, you’ve got to make him feel you,” Chancellor said. “You do that a lot and it gets in his head. ... That’s how I think he felt. I think we wore him out.”
Notes: McCoy finished with a career-high five receptions and is the first Seahawks tight end to catch a TD pass since John Carlson in the 2010 playoffs against New Orleans. ... Both Seattle and Dallas had five penalties after each was flagged 13 times in Week 1. ... Dallas had one drive of more than 10 plays. Seattle had four.