SEATTLE — Pete Carroll's reminder of how close the Seattle Seahawks were to being average last season usually gets ignored.
So when victories now don't come with ease and efficiency, like Sunday's 30-24 win over the winless Oakland Raiders, it's not a surprise for the coach.
"We could have been 8-8 just like that last year and people forget that," Carroll said. "I've harped on that more than I should have with our team so they realize how tough it is. ... I know you all would like it easier and smoother and cleaner and all that, but it's a battle. Suck it up."
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they still have Marshawn Lynch to lean on. Lynch scored a pair of first-half touchdowns and Bruce Irvin returned an interception 35 yards for another score as the Seahawks (5-3) jumped to a 24-3 lead then held on through a sloppy second half.
Lynch carried tacklers and teammates into the end zone in the first quarter on his 3-yard scoring run, but was an important option for Russell Wilson as a pass catcher. Lynch finished with 67 yards rushing and another 76 receiving, and his day could have been far more productive if not for gains of 43, 20 and 11 yards on either runs or passes called back by penalties. His 5-yard run at the end of the first half gave the Seahawks a 21-point lead that seemed plenty comfortable at the time.
"I think maybe six of them was my own team, so it's all good," Lynch said of his first TD.
Not all was perfect for Seattle. Wilson struggled through one of his worst passing games and the Seahawks failed to capitalize on numerous chances to rout the winless Raiders. It made for an uncomfortable final minutes as Derek Carr's second TD pass to Mychal Rivera with 1:52 left pulled the Raiders within six.
Sebastian Janikowski's onside kick was misplayed by Seattle's Cooper Helfet, but Jermaine Kearse fell on the loose ball and Seattle ran out the clock to hand the Raiders (0-8) their 14th straight loss dating to last season.
"I don't think I played well at all for whatever reason," said Wilson, who finished 17 of 35 for 179 yards. "Usually I know why something was off ... but I just felt like I was in it and whatever I was trying to do didn't work."
Part of Wilson's problem was the continued shuffling on Seattle's offensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung was inactive. Patrick Lewis made his first start at center with Max Unger and Stephen Schilling injured. Left guard James Carpenter suffered an ankle injury in the second half and undrafted rookie Garry Gilliam — a tackle — was his replacement.
Injuries were an issue for Seattle's defense, but clearly not as much of a factor. Linebacker Brock Coyle and safety DeShawn Shead made their first career starts, but Seattle still allowed only 226 total yards.
Seattle also got turnovers to bounce its way. Irvin tipped Carr's pass intended for James Jones, located to the ball in the air then beat Carr to the pylon for his first career touchdown. Later in the first half, Richard Sherman got his first interception of the season, getting better position than Andre Holmes on a back-shoulder pass and pulling in the pick with his left hand. T.J. Carrie also fumbled a kickoff that kicker Steven Hauschka recovered.
Sherman held the ball on his way out of the locker room to add to his collection.
"Just waiting. There hasn't been a year yet I haven't got one," Sherman said. "I knew eventually; if you're out there long enough and you're in position and you're playing the game the way you are supposed to, the football Gods will get what you need."
Denico Autry blocked Jon Ryan's punt on the first possession of the second half and Brice Butler recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to spark Oakland. It was the first punt block for a touchdown against Seattle since 2003 and the second for Oakland in the past two seasons.
Carrie later had a 27-yard punt return to set up Carr's first TD toss to Rivera late in the third quarter. Carr, who finished 24 of 41 for 194 yards, gave the Raiders a chance late with his second TD toss.
"This thing is starting to turn," interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano said. "We're playing better and better here as we go on. We've just got to get all phases to play better, so that we can get the feeling of what it's like to be in their locker room right now."
NOTES: Seattle paid tribute to the recent school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School with a moment of silence before the game and "MP" decals on the Seahawks helmets. DE Greg Scruggs also ran out of the tunnel during pregame intros carrying an "MP" flag. ... Oakland is off to its worst start since 1962. ... Hall of Fame LT Walter Jones was inducted into the Seahawks' Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.