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Lowell Cohn: Message from Seattle is loud and clear

  • Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch (24) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

SEATTLE -- There was nothing pretty about that game between the 49ers and Seahawks, you know the marquee game of the day, the jewel in the crown of the NFL's second week the Seahawks won 29-3.

The first half told the whole story, not a pretty story. It ended with the Seahawks leading 5-0. That's not a football score. That's baseball or soccer.

The battle between quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, the so-called battle of an eyebrow, was no battle at all. Neither quarterback looked special or even good, if you want to be honest. Wilson looked better over the course of the game, but neither was Johnny Unitas.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

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Although both defenses played well — Seattle's played better — the offenses for both teams were skittish and nervous and simply not up to the occasion — and it was an occasion, a happening, an event.

But here's the strange thing. Despite the lack of offensive design, despite the lack of intricate plays or even thrilling plays, the game was good in its way. Yes, it was. It was a throwback to football as it used to be, to the core and heart of football. Football is a game about imposing your will on the other guys, and that's what both defenses did for a while. There is beauty in a game like that — call it rough beauty.

The Seahawks were saying to the 49ers and the 49ers were saying to the Seahawks, "Can you play rough? Do you want to play rough? Do you have the stomach for this? Do you have the will for this?

The stomach and will involved rain and thunder and lightning — it's like it involved the wrath of God. And after an hour delay, the teams played some more and the best team, the Seahawks, survived.

They survived by being basic and insistent and tough. If you look at the play by play, the Seahawks' game plan basically went Marshawn Lynch, Marshawn Lynch, Marshawn Lynch and more Marshawn Lynch. They were daring the 49ers to stop Lynch if they could. The 49ers couldn't.

There is something to be said for this kind of guts-and-glory, sweat-and-muscle, hurt-and-be-hurt football where every inch gained requires a battle, every first down is an enormous victory, every point feels like riches. Rough football is beautiful, if you just can see it.

But the 49ers were not rough enough. You couldn't help noticing some of their players were missing in action. This tended to hurt the overall effort.


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