ATLANTA -- Remember that potential Super Bowl team, the one so many expected from the Seattle Seahawks but hadn't really seen?
Now you've seen it.
“Wow, what a game,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “This was a terrific statement across the board. It was rock solid. It's really the best game we've played.”
The Seahawks have been saying all season they haven't played a complete game. Just wait, they've been saying. It'll happen, they've been saying.
They were right. This was scary good, and the timing of such a dominant game says a lot.
On a day when news broke that receiver Percy Harvin likely would return next weekend against the Vikings, Seattle receivers showed they're pretty good without him.
Golden Tate had six catches for 106 yards and a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone, keeping both feet in bounds.
“It's going to be exciting to get Percy out there,'' Tate said. “He will add another dimension to our game. But this game shows what we're capable of. Now it's about consistency and stepping up every week. If we do that, we can be a very dangerous team.”
The potential always has been there for the Seahawks, who are 9-1 overall and 5-1 on the road. But having it and showing it are two different things. Seattle showed it this time.
Let's count the ways:
Seattle had 490 yards of offense, including 211 yards rushing. Marshawn Lynch had 145 yards on 24 carries. He even had an assist on the 43-yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to Kearse, a gadget play when Lynch pitched it back to Wilson.
At one stretch late in the first half, Seattle had gains of 37, 43 and 46 yards on three consecutive offensive plays.
After two consecutive games allowing at least 200 yards rushing, the defense held the Falcons to only 64 yards on the ground.
Atlanta's only touchdown came late in the third quarter after Seattle built a 26-3 lead.
Kicker Steven Hauschka was 4-for-4 on field goals, including a 53-yarder. His shortest field goal was 39 yards.
Wilson completed 19 of 26 throws for 287 yards and two TDs for a 134.6 quarterback rating. He was sacked only once, but actually had more time to throw than a week ago, when he wasn't sacked.
The patchwork offensive line, minus three starters Sunday, had its best game of the season. Undrafted rookie Alvin Bailey proved he can play in the league, knocking people off the line of scrimmage and keeping rushers off Wilson while playing left tackle and right guard. He rotated in and out all game.
“I thought we were phenomenal today,” Wilson said. “We did a great job in all phases of the game. We were really locked in. All week at practice, everybody was really tuned in.”
And here's my full disclosure: For the first time this season, I picked the Seahawks to lose. Judging by how poorly they had played in escaping with victories the past few weeks, I thought it would catch up with them Sunday.
And I wasn't alone. The betting line started the week with Seattle a 6˝-point favorite. By kickoff on Sunday, it was down to 3˝.
The bettors were dead wrong, and so was I. Considering how well the Seahawks played, maybe I should pick them to lose every week.
They have made it through the toughest part of their schedule with only one loss. Now they close out the regular season with four of their six games at home.
After hosting the Vikings, Seattle has its bye week and a 15-day break before one of the most important games of the season -- Monday night at home against the New Orleans Saints. Then the Seahawks play at San Francisco, finishing off back-to-back games that likely will decide home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
“This one feels good," cornerback Richard Sherman said. “But we still haven't played our best ball. I think we'll get Percy out there next week, and we'll get both our tackles back. We'll see how far they can take us. We still have room to grow."
With Harvin's coming-out party about to arrive next week against his former team, and the offensive line about to get healthy, the Seahawks could be headed toward something special.
"The sky's the limit for us,'' linebacker K.J. Wright said. “And as good as this one was, we still haven't reached the clouds.”