SEATTLE -- A one-hour lightning show, about as rare around these parts as a bad cup of coffee or cheap salmon, delayed the inevitable in the showdown of NFC West powers.
The game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers -- bitter West Coast rivals and possibly the two best teams in the NFL -- was a 0-0 standoff when the thunderstorms halted play late in the first quarter.
Almost four hours later, it was a decisive 29-3 Seahawks victory, an early-season thumping in the battle for bragging rights in the NFC.
“A lot of pundits and ignorant idiots thought we were gonna lose this game,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said in a postgame NBC interview. “Don’t doubt us.”
It’s only Week 2 in a long NFL season, but the Seahawks sent a clear message Sunday night after the downpour that they are the team to beat in the NFC.
Well, for anyone who stayed up to see it. The game ended close to 1 a.m. on the East Coast.
The Seahawks didn’t exactly stress out about things during the weather delay. They might as well have gone to a spa.
“I took a shower,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I decided I wanted to start fresh and clear my mind when we came back out.”
“I listened to some music, hung out with the defensive linemen and did some dance moves,” Sherman said. “I had a good time.”
When the lightning stopped and the teams returned to the field, the loudest crowd around was ready and waiting. Who knows what the Guinness World Records folks need to make an official entry, but unofficially, the record crowd of 68,338 spectators set a sound record for an outdoor stadium at 136.6 decibels.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time, but I’ve never heard a crowd like that,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "What an amazing night. It was unbelievable for the crowd to elevate things and sustain it like that. It was so much fun to be in the stadium. Our guys felt it.”
The 49ers may not have felt it, but they certainly heard it.
“It’s very, very loud,” 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said. “But I’m not going to make that the reason we lost the game.”
San Francisco lost the game because of the relentless Seattle defense that forced five 49ers turnovers and held one of the best offenses in the NFL out of the end zone one week after San Francisco scored 34 points on Green Bay.
Receiver Anquan Boldin, who had 13 catches for 208 yards a week ago, had one reception for 7 yards Sunday night. Sherman made Boldin his special project of the night.
“I asked [Carroll] to give me the challenge,” Sherman said of covering Boldin. “I wanted to follow him. I studied film of him all week. The key is being physical with him. He’s a great player, so I wanted to contain him.”
Sherman had one of two fourth-quarter interceptions for the Seahawks. After his return down the sideline, he danced with the SeaGals, the Seattle cheerleaders.
“It was just a little tryout for me,” Sherman said.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick failed in this tryout against the Seattle defense. He threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns last week, but went 13-for-28 for 127 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns Sunday night.
The Seahawks have taken up where they left off last year when the defense allowed the fewest points in the league. Seattle has given up a total of 10 points in the first two games.
You can win a lot of games that way, even when the offense sputters. Wilson started the game 1-for-9 passing but completed seven of his final 10 throws, including a 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin.
“I missed a couple of throws early that I don’t normally miss,” Wilson said. “But we just keep plugging away, one play at a time.”
Wilson got plenty of help this time from running back Marshawn Lynch. After rushing for only 43 yards on 17 carries last week at Carolina, Lynch was back to Beast Mode, rushing for 98 yards on 28 carries. Lynch had two touchdowns on the ground and one on a 7-yard reception when he tiptoed into the end zone.
At times, this game was as ugly as the weather, with lots of penalties on both sides and lots of sloppy play.
“It was not clean and we had our problems, but it didn’t matter tonight,” Carroll said. “The defense was on it. We did everything we needed to do on defense.”
It helped having defensive end Cliff Avril on the field for the first time. He forced a Kaepernick fumble on a sack.
And it didn’t seem to matter that cornerback Brandon Browner was out for the second consecutive game. Walter Thurmond, his replacement, deflected a pass near the goal line in the first quarter that Earl Thomas intercepted.
Seattle now has outscored the 49ers 71-16 in the past two meetings. That won’t mean much when the two teams meet again in San Francisco on Dec. 8, but what does Sunday's convincing win say about the Seahawks right now?
“We have a chance to do something great,” Thomas said. “That’s all it says. If we stay humble and keep preparing like were doing, we’ll be fine.”