Seattle Six years later, Matt Cassel got a chance to show Pete Carroll firsthand how good he can be as a starter.
With the help of Dwayne Bowe and Kansas City’s run game, Cassel and the Chiefs made it look easy.
Cassel tied his career high with four touchdown passes, three of them to Bowe, and the Chiefs stayed on top of the AFC West with an impressive 42-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Cassel finished 22-of-33 for 233 yards, finding Bowe 13 times to match his career-best set just two weeks ago against Denver. Bowe had 170 yards receiving and caught touchdowns of 7, 36 and 9 yards.
Jamaal Charles ran for 173 yards on 22 carries, topping 1,000 yards for the season, and added a three-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter that gave the Chiefs a 28-17 lead.
Bowe extended his streak of at least one TD catch to seven straight games.
Cassel’s 129.3 passer rating on Sunday was the third best of his pro career. Not too shabby for someone who was Carroll’s backup at USC.
“I knew that this was a big game for the Kansas City Chiefs and this by no means was about Coach Carroll and myself,” Cassel said. “I played for him six years ago. I’ve had some time to move on from there. At this point, I’m just really proud of how our team came out and played today.”
If Cassel’s passing wasn’t enough of a problem for Seattle’s defense, there was the Chiefs running game that backed up their ranking as the best in the NFL.
Charles’ effort was part of the 270 yards rushing from Kansas City that included 68 from Thomas Jones and a scrambling 28 yards from Cassel, more than Seattle’s total of 20 yards rushing as a team.
Backup defensive tackle Shaun Smith added a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter and Kansas City won its second straight overall and ninth consecutive game against NFC West opponents.
More importantly, the Chiefs (7-4) remained on top of the division.
“We just know we have a good offense and we just need to keep it up,” Charles said. “It comes from practice. If you don’t work hard in practice, don’t show up on Sundays.”
Cassel was the kid Carroll didn’t pick to be the starter at USC when Carson Palmer left. Carroll instead went with Matt Leinart, who was part of the most dominant run in college football in recent history. Cassel was the backup that barely saw mop-up duty.
Leinart is now the third string QB in Houston and Cassel is quickly growing into a star.
So too is Bowe, who has 32 receptions for 465 yards and seven touchdowns the past three games.
“I don’t keep count until Monday. I don’t want to know my stats until Monday,” Bowe said.
When told what they were, Bowe said, “Not yet, I’ve still got more to go.”
Cassel completed 15 of 20 in the first half, picking apart Seattle’s pass defense, connecting with Bowe in the first quarter, then on a 36-yard TD in the second when Seattle secondary blew coverage.
The pair hooked up one more time in the fourth quarter when Cassel threw a quick slant to Bowe for a 9-yard TD, sending much of Qwest Field to the exits.
“I’m just impressed each and every week. ... I find myself looking for him more and more and more,” Cassel said.
And if his day wasn’t complete, Cassel added a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Tony Moeaki late in the fourth quarter. It was the final indignity for a Seattle defense that was shredded for more than 500 total yards for the third time this season.
“I would say just football wise that is the worst anyone could play on defense, 200 yards on the ground alone, that’s just the worst game ever,” Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry said.
Seattle (5-6) still has the benefit of playing in the mediocre NFC West, but even that margin of error is closing. Seattle dropped its fourth in the past five games after a 4-2 start to fall into a tie with St. Louis, and was booed in the closing moments for a second straight home game.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice. Ben Obomanu had five catches for 159 yards.
And for one half, the Seahawks were completely inept. Seattle managed just 71 yards in the first half, the fourth time this season they were limited to under 100 yards in the first half. They didn’t get a first down until midway through the second quarter.
Their only touchdown in the first half came when Kennard Cox went untouched to block Dustin Colquitt’s punt and rookie Earl Thomas returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.
Seattle did cut the Chiefs lead to 21-17 after Hasselbeck hit Chris Baker for a touchdown on the first drive of the second half. But that was as close as Seattle got. Hasselbeck added an 87-yard touchdown pass to Obomanu early in the fourth quarter.
“We played like garbage out there,” Carroll said. “That’s what it is.”
Notes: Seattle’s leading receiver Mike Williams (foot) was inactive. Carroll said Williams couldn’t cut properly during his pregame workout. ... Seattle CB Marcus Trufant left in the first quarter with an ankle injury. It was initially announced Trufant was out, but he returned in the second quarter and played the rest of the game. ... Cassel has three games this season with a passer rating above 120.