SEATTLE — Richard Sherman celebrated by dancing with cheerleaders, Marshawn Lynch cut, plowed and strolled his way to three touchdowns, and Pete Carroll got one rousing birthday gift.
The awaited NFC West showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers was a one-sided rout.
Lynch scored on touchdown runs of 14 and two yards, and added a seven-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter, and the Seahawks dominated in a 29-3 win Sunday night.
“Every game we feel like we should dominate, and we did,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
The game was delayed 60 minutes late in the first quarter when thunderstorms blew through the area. The highly anticipated matchup was sloppy as opposed to sensational, but Lynch more than did his part.
Lynch finished with 135 total yards, including 98 yards rushing, to make up for quarterback Russell Wilson hitting on just two of his first 10 throws and Seattle’s receivers struggling to get open. His TD run on the first drive of the second half gave the Seahawks a 12-0 lead. His TD catch pushed the advantage to 19-3 early in the fourth quarter.
“We are dedicated to running the ball and we are going to keep working until we really own it, and we don’t own the running right now like we can. We’ll get better at it,” Carroll said.
This won’t be a game noted for efficiency or execution by either side. There were careless turnovers and untimely penalties. But that was expected between these nasty rivals and the favorites not just in their division but as potential NFC representatives in the Super Bowl.
And it was the Seahawks getting an early, important advantage over the 49ers.
“We did what we expected to. I think you guys expected something different. I think you guys expected something a little more Kaepernick-y,” Sherman said. “We didn’t expect any of that. We expect guys to play discipline ball.”
Kaepernick failed to get anything going in the passing game, unable to break down Seattle’s stellar secondary. He was intercepted in the end zone in the first quarter when Earl Thomas hauled in a deflected pass intended for Vernon Davis. That was the only time the 49ers threatened to score a touchdown. Kam Chancellor intercepted Kaepernick midway through the fourth quarter, returning the pick to the San Francisco 2 and leading to Lynch’s third TD.
Then there was Sherman, Seattle’s ultra-confident All-Pro, who intercepted Kaepernick’s deep sideline pass for Davis with about 13 minutes remaining.
He celebrated his first interception of the season by dancing with the Seahawks cheer squad.
Steven Hauschka kicked a 37-yard field goal, and the Seahawks’ lead was 22-3 with 11:31 left.
“He should probably stay at cornerback,” Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate joked about Sherman. “I don’t see a future in that.”
And just because Carroll can’t stop competing, he challenged and won the Seahawks another turnover following a kickoff fumble with 4:15 left and the Seahawks leading by 26.
Wilson finished 8 of 19 passing for 142 yards, one of the worst games in his young career. Kaepernick was 13 of 28 for 127 yards passing, and he ran for another 87 yards. His three interceptions matched his entire season total from 2012.
Frank Gore was held to just 16 yards on nine carries, and Anquan Boldin, who tortured Green Bay last week for 13 catches and 208 yards, was targeted just once in the first three quarters. His only catch came with 9:40 remaining.
Boldin was shadowed most of the night by Sherman. It was a request Sherman made following Boldin’s big day a week ago and with the Seahawks minus their other starting cornerback Brandon Browner.
“I asked Coach for the challenge,” Sherman said. “I wanted to follow him. There were a lot of things said this week.”
The 49ers finished with five turnovers and no TDs in a game for the third time since the start of 1979 season.
“I don’t think any of us are proud of our performance,” San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Leading 5-0 at halftime after a wacky first half of delays and points coming via safety and a field goal, Seattle started the second half going to Lynch. He carried on the first four plays, and when Seattle faced third-and-12, Wilson scrambled and bought time for Doug Baldwin to get open downfield for a 51-yard reception to the 20. After a penalty backed up the Seahawks to the 14, Lynch took an inside handoff and darted nearly untouched for his first touchdown of the season.
Seattle extended the lead later in the half thanks to a careless personal foul penalty from Aldon Smith, slapping the helmet of Seattle’s Breno Giacomini behind the play after Zach Miller and the Seahawks were stopped short on third-and-28. Given another chance, Wilson stayed in the pocket against blitzing safety Craig Dahl on third-and-4 to find Lynch wide open in the left flat.
Lynch took a few steps toward the end zone, stopped and waited, and finally crossed the goal line, pushing the lead to 22-3.
“He was saying he just took a couple of seconds off the clock,” Wilson said.
Broncos 41, Giants 23
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Peyton Manning again beat younger brother Eli, throwing two touchdown passes in leading Denver past the New York Giants.
The older Manning is 3-0 in the NFL against his sibling, with the other two victories coming when Peyton was with the Colts. He got this win with a huge boost from Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for two touchdowns and 93 yards. Denver (2-0), which has won 13 straight regular-season games, rushed for 109 yards altogether.
Peyton Manning didn’t need to match his record-tying seven touchdown passes from the Broncos’ season-opening victory. Not with the Giants (0-2) being charitable again with three more turnovers after they had six in last’s week loss. They also allowed Trindon Holliday’s spectacular 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first such score in the league this season.
PACKERS 38, REDSKINS 20
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 480 yards and four touchdowns and Green Bay used a big first half to win its home opener.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for 320 yards and three second-half touchdowns. Pierre Garcon had 143 yards receiving and a touchdown.
But it was too little, too late after Washington (0-2) fell short again after being outplayed early for a second straight week.
James Jones had a career-high 11 catches for 178 yards. James Starks ran for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Green Bay (1-1) built a 24-0 lead by halftime and never looked back.
CHARGERS 33, EAGLES 30
PHILADELPHIA — Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes to Eddie Royal, and Nick Novak kicked a 46-yard field goal with 7 seconds left, spoiling Chip Kelly’s home debut.
Michael Vick threw for a career-best 428 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score. But a porous Eagles defense couldn’t stop Rivers all day.
He finished 36 of 47 for 419 yards, and the Chargers punted only once. They fumbled twice inside Philadelphia’s 10 in the first half.
The teams combined for 1,150 total yards, including 539 for San Diego.
BEARS 31, VIKINGS 30
CHICAGO — Jay Cutler threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left.
Minnesota’s Blair Walsh had just kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:15 remaining when Chicago took over at its 34. Cutler, who led the Bears back from an 11-point deficit in a season-opening win over Cincinnati, struck again.
A 23-yard pass to Bennett along the sideline put the ball on the 16. Cutler then spiked the ball before connecting with Bennett in the front corner of the end zone. Chicago remained unbeaten under new coach Marc Trestman despite committing four turnovers.
Cutler completed 28 of 39 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. But he was also intercepted twice and got stripped by Jared Allen on a sack, leading to a 61-yard touchdown return for Brian Robison in the second quarter.
CHIEFS 17, COWBOYS 16
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Smith threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and the Kansas City defense held when it needed to in the fourth quarter.
Jamaal Charles ran for 55 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the Chiefs, who made new coach Andy Reid a winner in his home debut. The Chiefs also matched their victory total from all of last season by starting 2-0 for just the second time since 2005.
Dwayne Bowe’s touchdown catch in the third quarter and Ryan Succop’s 40-yard field goal early in the fourth gave the Chiefs a 17-13 lead. The Cowboys (1-1) answered with a deep march into Kansas City territory but had to settle for Dan Bailey’s 53-yard field goal with 3:55 left.
The Chiefs offense never gave the Cowboys a chance to mount a winning drive.
TEXANS 30, TITANS 24, OT
HOUSTON — Rookie DeAndre Hopkins caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in overtime to cap Houston’s comeback win.
With Andre Johnson out after being shaken up in the fourth quarter, Hopkins reached above Jason McCourty and pulled in the pass from Matt Schaub to give Houston the victory.
The Texans (2-0) needed a franchise-record 21-point comeback to win their opener at San Diego 31-28.
On Sunday, they charged back from an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit against the Titans (1-1).
Arian Foster’s 1-yard touchdown and 2-point conversion tied it at 24-24 with less than two minutes left.
Houston forced a punt and got within field goal range after that. But Randy Bullock’s 46-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright to force overtime. It was his third miss of the day.
BILLS 24, PANTHERS 23
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rookie EJ Manuel hit Stevie Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left.
The touchdown capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive in which the first-round draft pick completed 6 of 8 attempts for 51 yards.
Manuel also got help on third-and-6 from Carolina’s 29, when Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was penalized for pass interference with 14 seconds left.
Two plays later, Manuel found Johnson alone in the left corner as Buffalo (1-1) bounced back from a 23-21 season-opening loss to New England.
The Panthers (0-2) lost yet another close game.
They were coming off a 12-7 loss to Seattle last week and have now dropped to 2-14 in games decided by 7 points or less in two-plus seasons under coach Ron Rivera.
DOLPHINS 24, COLTS 20
INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Tannehill threw for 319 yards and one touchdown, and the Dolphins defense held off yet another Colts comeback bid.
Charles Clay gave Miami the lead for good with a 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter. The Dolphins are 2-0 for only the second time since 2004.
Indianapolis (1-1) lost at home for the first time in 12 months and only the second time in Andrew Luck’s brief NFL career.
Luck had the Colts positioned to rally yet again after reaching the Miami 23-yard line with 1:45 left in the game.
But this time, Luck threw three straight incompletions and then could not evade the Dolphins pass rush on fourth down, allowing Miami to run out the clock.
Tannehill finished 23 of 34.
Luck was 25 of 43 for 321 yards with one TD and one interception.
SAINTS 16, BUCS 14
TAMPA, Fla. — Garrett Hartley kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give New Orleans a weather-delayed victory over Tampa Bay.
Drew Brees shrugged off throwing an interception that was returned to touchdown to give Tampa Bay the lead to complete three straight passes for 54 yards to lead the Saints (2-0) into position to win.
He finished 26 of 46 for 322 yards, but was sacked four times and intercepted twice.
The game was delayed 69 minutes by lightning in the first quarter.
The Bucs (0-2) lost on a field goal in the closing seconds for the second straight week.
Linebacker Mason Foster scored on an 85-yard interception return for a 14-13 lead, however Rian Lindell missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with just over a minute later, giving Brees one more chance to bring the Saints back.
Brees led his team into scoring position with completions of 15 yards to Jimmy Graham, 8 yards to Darren Sproles and 31 yards to Marques Colston.
FALCONS 31, RAMS 24
ATLANTA — Julio Jones hauled in 11 passes for 182 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown, and Atlanta held on for its first win of the season.
Matt Ryan threw for 374 yards and two scores despite taking quite a beating behind the Falcons’ shaky offense line. Jason Snelling clinched it for the Falcons (1-1) with an 11-yard touchdown run with 6:18 remaining — Atlanta’s longest play of the day on the ground.
The Rams (1-1) fell behind 21-0 when Osi Umenyiora returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Atlanta led 24-3 at halftime before St Louis fought back on a pair of short touchdown passes by Sam Bradford.
Bradford finished with 352 yards and three TDs.
CARDINALS 25, LIONS 21
GLENDALE, Ariz. — A pass interference penalty against Bill Bentley set up Rashard Mendenhall’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:59 to play in Bruce Arians’ home debut as Cardinals coach.
Jay Feely kicked four field goals and Carson Palmer threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to rookie Andre Ellington for Arizona (1-1). Ellington also had a 16-yard catch to start the deciding drive.
Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson on touchdown plays of 72 and 3 yards, and DeAndre Levy returned an interception 66 yards for a score for Detroit (1-1), which led 21-13 midway through the third quarter.
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald played despite a sore hamstring but was unable to finish the contest.
Detroit’s Reggie Bush injured his left knee in the first half and played only briefly in the second.
RAVENS 14, BROWNS 6
BALTIMORE —Baltimore sacked Brandon Weeden five times before finally knocking him out of the game in the fourth quarter.
After yielding 49 points in a season-opening loss at Denver, Baltimore’s defense came up with a redemptive performance against the Browns (0-2). Cleveland failed to score in the second half and managed only 85 yards over the final 30 minutes.
Weeden left with a thumb injury with just over three minutes left and was replaced by Jason Campbell, who could not move the team.
Down 6-0 at halftime, the Ravens (1-1) took the lead on a 5-yard run by Bernard Pierce with 5:13 left in the third quarter. Baltimore added a touchdown with 8:77 remaining on a 5-yard pass from Joe Flacco to rookie Marlon Brown.
Ravens running back Ray Rice left early in the fourth quarter with an apparent hip injury.
RAIDERS 19, JAGUARS 9
OAKLAND, Calif. — Darren McFadden ran for 129 yards and Oakland’s defense held Jacksonville out of the end zone until the closing minutes, as the Raiders won their home opener.
Terrelle Pryor ran for 50 yards and threw for 126 in his first home start for the Raiders (1-1), and Marcel Reece scored on an 11-yard run to help Oakland bounce back from last week’s late loss in Indianapolis.
Sebastian Janikowski added four field goals.
Playing the depleted Jaguars offense sure helped the cause. Jacksonville (0-2) came within 2:53 of becoming the first team since the 2006 Raiders and Buccaneers to fail to score a touchdown in the first two games.