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Originally published September 26, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Page modified September 27, 2010 at 9:35 AM

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Steve Kelley

These Seahawks are sensing success

Count on big things from these Seahawks because they're proving they can make the big play at the right time.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Clear out your Sunday calendar. Put off those weekend plans to paint the den. Don't sweat the leaves that soon will be clogging your gutters. Cancel that drive into the Cascades to see the fall colors.

There's something happening here.

"You're seeing a different kind of hitting out there this year," said Lawyer Milloy, the Seahawks' 15-year veteran safety. "We're bringing a different kind of nastiness."

Change is happening.

Against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the Seahawks surrendered 518 yards.

Didn't matter.

They botched a possession at the end of the half that cost them three points. They squandered a 17-point third-quarter lead.

So what?

They kept their defense on the field seemingly all of the last 30 minutes. They committed the kind of penalties before the snap of the ball that shouldn't happen at home.

They survived.

Deion Branch lost a touchdown when he fumbled inches before he crossed the goal line and the ball rolled harmlessly out of the end zone.

And still the Seahawks won.

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They gave their crowd the whole package. The good. The bad. The OMG. They showed us how far they've come. And how far they still can go.

"I'm excited about the win," wide receiver Branch said, "but I think we can do a whole lot better. This is great, don't get me wrong. It's hard to win even one game in the NFL, but I think we're way better than what we put out on the football field today."

Inside a re-awakened Qwest Field, the Seahawks did what they always used to do. They made plays. They navigated through their mistakes and they beat the very good Chargers in an improbable golden delicious 27-20 day.

Good things are happening again inside Qwest.

Kickoffs are getting returned for touchdowns. Quarterbacks, even ones as good as San Diego's Philip Rivers, are getting harassed by swarms of defensive linemen. Opponents are dropping the football as if the outsides were lined with eel.

"We have something going here," safety and special teams leader Roy Lewis said. "Nobody else knows what's going on inside this team. There's still a lot of naysayers out there, but we don't worry about that. It's about the 53 guys in this room. We believe."

This team is buying all of the "hoo-ha" that new coach Pete Carroll is selling. All week long they quote him like so many preachers reciting Bible verses.

"We're a reflection of him," Milloy said of Carroll. "Guys are definitely gravitating toward him, listening to him and playing very hard for him."

All of this college rah-rah in Renton is working. Maybe ESPN should bring "Game Day" to Seattle's Sundays. All that's missing here are Friday night bonfires.

Sure it's early and so much can go wrong, but the Seahawks, 2-1, should win the NFC West. After three weeks, they clearly are the most dangerous team with the greatest potential for growth.

"Through OTAs, through training camp, I saw the way this team was coming together," said safety Jordan Babineaux, who was released, then re-signed, the week leading up to the opener. "I had a sense that we had a great chance to be good. We got younger, but we're talented and we know that.

"This is my seventh year here and the thing is that even when they released me I still felt like I was part of the team. I didn't understand what they were doing, certainly, but I still felt like I was part of this secondary."

Why can't the Seahawks resurrect, while they rebuild?

This is the very winnable West. Look at San Francisco. All of the 0-3 Niners' summer optimism has melted like so much Ghirardelli chocolate.

Sure, the Seahawks make mistakes, but they also make plays.

Not one, but two kick returns for touchdowns from Leon Washington. Not one, but two picks from rookie safety Earl Thomas, including the game-clincher on Rivers' final fourth-down attempt at a miracle.

There was David Hawthorne's lethal hit that caused Mike Tolbert's fumble. And Kam Chancellor's crunch that caused Darren Sproles to cough up the ball on a kickoff near the end of the half.

"It's like we find out something new about ourselves every day," running back Justin Forsett said. "Today was a great example of us being put in a situation where we needed someone to make a play and someone did. Guys showed up. That's the resilience we have around here now."

The season has just begun and, as they proved a week ago in Denver, the Hawks, if they turn the ball over, still can lose to anybody, even the Rams next Sunday in St. Louis.

But there is something going on here. A team is starting to believe big.

Why can't the Seahawks win the West?

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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