The Seattle Seahawks didn't need a "Fail Mary" to beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
They sure didn't do anything to lose their spot atop the AP Pro32 rankings.
The Seahawks ran roughshod over the Packers in a 36-16 rout Thursday night to open the season, showcasing the same dominant defense that led them to the Super Bowl a year ago while also opening up an offense that could leave a lot of teams wondering what hit them.
The beat-down persuaded everybody in the 12-member media panel that regularly covers the league to put Seattle on top. Denver had received one first-place vote in the preseason poll.
"No complacency for the defending champs, who pick up right where they left off with a dominating performance on both sides of the ball," said Bob Glauber of Newsday.
The Seahawks held Aaron Rodgers to just 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two scores without a pick. The Seahawks finished with nearly 400 yards of offense, putting the game away with 19 straight points spanning halftime.
"You've been warned," said Ira Kauffman of The Tampa Tribune. "The Seahawks are prying open their offensive playbook."
The Broncos were the clear-cut second choice, garnering all but one second-place vote. The San Francisco 49ers were third, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals — a big mover after their win at Baltimore — and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Denver raced out to a 24-7 halftime lead against Indianapolis on Sunday, and then had to hold on after a frantic Colts comeback. The Broncos wound up winning 31-24.
"Little concerning that the defense gave up some late points," said former NFL coach Herm Edwards, now with ESPN, "but that offense looks in postseason form."
The 49ers rolled to a 28-17 victory in Dallas, getting a near-flawless performance from quarterback Colin Kaepernick and balance from running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde.
"The best news out of the 49ers win was that its defense didn't play like a unit missing key players due to injuries and suspensions," Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas said.
Cincinnati moved from a tie for 10th into fourth place after its own road win, while the Eagles rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit with 34 unanswered points against Jacksonville. The performance left the Eagles with some mixed reviews.
Kauffman, who had them fourth on his ballot, wrote that "Darren Sproles and Chip Kelly constitute a marriage made in NFL heaven," while Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News had them sixth, pointing out that "Nick Foles is on pace to get sacked 95 times this season."
The Packers and New Orleans Saints were tied for sixth, followed by the New England Patriots and the Colts. The Arizona Cardinals rounded out the top 10, getting plenty of love after scoring 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to steal an 18-17 win over San Diego.
"I like the way this team fought through adversity," said ESPN's Herm Edwards.
The Kansas City Chiefs, who made the playoffs last season, tumbled all the way to No. 24 after getting blown out by Tennessee. The Washington Redskins were No. 28, followed by the New York Giants, the Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams.
St. Louis lost quarterback Sam Bradford to injury before the season, and fill-in Shaun Hill during the first half of a 34-6 home loss to Minnesota. Aaron Davis finished out the game.
"No Sam Bradford. No Shaun Hill," Glauber wrote. "No chance of anything except a high draft pick in 2015."
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