Micah Rice is The Columbian's Sports Editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @col_mrice.
Seahawks vs. 49ers, Sept. 15, 2013
The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers 29-3 on Sept. 15, 2013.
SEATTLE — Lightning rarely happens without thunder.
The Seattle Seahawks weren't flashy Sunday. But their defensive dominance over San Francisco could have deep reverberations in the team's Super Bowl quest.
It wasn't just that Seattle bolted to an early-season lead on their NFC West rival. What could echo throughout this season was the manner in which the Seahawks won.
With all the sizzle about hurry-up offenses and mobile quarterbacks, a stingy defense and physical running game are the steak that continue to fuel championship teams in the NFL.
Seattle has the weapons to score in bunches. But when that arsenal misfires, as it often has through two games this season, can the Seahawks grind out the ugly wins that they couldn't last year?
So far the answer is yes. And that's why it's not premature to think this is a team that could catch lightning in a bottle beyond that which flashed above CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
"We kept our cool throughout the night and played like a championship group out there," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "That was the key to the whole night."
The Seahawks also may have found the key to bottling up 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was 13 of 28 for 127 yards, three interceptions and a quarterback rating lower than the speed limit on a residential street. San Francisco has scored a combined 16 points in the two games the dynamic quarterback has played against Seattle.
The acquisition of Percy Harvin was supposed to turbo-charge an offense as hot as any during last season's second half. But Seattle has allowed 10 points through two games this season. That will allow a team to survive injuries and inconsistency that are bound to happen.
"It was not clean," Carroll said. "We had a lot of problems on offense and just getting out of our own way. But the defense was so on tonight that it didn't matter."
And the defense could just get better. Cliff Avril missed the season opener, but was still a factor in his first game as a Seahawk. Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons will rejoin the team soon.
That will also allow a team to win away from home. And it is on the road where it will be determined if the path to the Super Bowl will lead through Seattle in the playoffs.
The Seahawks will be favorites in their seven remaining home games. Grind out four more road wins, and you've probably got home-field advantage through the playoffs.
And with a stadium that set a world record for loudest crowd noise on Sunday, you've got to love their chances.