The Seahawks 2011 NFL season got off to a pretty disheartening start with left tackle Russell Okung going out with an injured left ankle on the 5th play. Okung had a lot of trouble with his ankle last season, missing 6 games, and Seahawks fans around the world are holding their breath in hopes it's nothing serious or the sign that he's developing a chronic ankle problem. The good news is that the x-rays came back negative, meaning no bone fractures. The bad news is two-fold: obviously that he sprained his ankle, but also that he seems to be very injury prone, particularly with his ankles. Disconcerting to say the least.
Other than that, the Seahawks looked more or less how I expected them to.
Notes from the 1st Quarter:
Both sides of the football got off to a slow start. The Hawks picked up a couple of quick first downs on their first possession -- the first one coming on a 7-yard pass from Tarvaris Jackson to rookie WR Doug Baldwin on a crossing route, the second coming on a 3rd and short situation where Leon Washington took a handoff up the middle for 4 yards. The Seahawks offense then sputtered and was forced to punt from their own 49 yard line.
The first-team defense did not look particularly good. After taking over on their own 11 yard line, the Chargers marched up the field for 89 yards on 10 plays, including a 48-yard bomb from Philip Rivers to none other than Vincent Jackson (who was being marked by none other than Kelly Jennings, of course). The drive was capped by an 8-yard touchdown catch and run by Mike Tolbert to put the Chargers up 7-0. Frankly, the Chargers made it look easy.
Don't worry, it's just the preseason.
On the next Hawks possession, Tarvaris Jackson showcased his pocket escapability with a nifty little scramble on 3rd and 4 for the first down. That was the last notable play of the quarter. A couple runs here, a couple sacks taken there. End of the 1st.
Score at End of 1st: 7-0 Chargers
Notes from the 2nd and 3rd Quarters:
I'll be honest. The 2nd quarter was fairly boring, even by preseason standards. Want a scoring summary? Nate Kaeding hit a field goal with 2:26 left in the quarter.
I thought the Hawks defense looked better in the 2nd Quarter than in the 1st. They settled in a bit, with a starter or two sprinkled in, and made some stops. Brandon Browner had a few passes defensed, though I admit both looked like borderline pass interference. This is about what I would have expected -- his reputation in the CFL was for his physicality and his penchant for drawing penalties.
Jimmy Wilkerson showed up with a big sack of Billy Volek on 2nd down that led to a 3rd and long situation. The Chargers were forced to punt a play later.
Score at Half: 10-0 Chargers
On the offensive side, I came away pretty impressed with Charlie Whitehurst. He played large portions of the 2nd and 3rd Quarters -- five series. I realize that this is the preseason and he was facing the B-squad defense, but his general disposition and body language looked better than I remember from last season. He stood tall in the pocket, threw some good balls, and worked through his progressions on a few occasions. He scrambled 8 yards for a first down on one play and demonstrated good mobility on a few others. He wasn't perfect, but he looked good. I'll take it, preseason or not.
In the Hawks opening series of the 3rd Quarter, the Whitehurst-led offense went like this: 8 yard pass to Doug Baldwin, 6-yard pass to Baldwin, 29 yard bomb to Dominique Byrd, (Clayton run left for -1 yard), Charlie scrambles for 4 yards, 8-yard pass to Tate. That series of plays set up, with the help of a few SD penalties, a 1-yard touchdown run by Leon Washington.
Later in the quarter, Brandon Coutu hit a 28 yard field goal. Too bad he can't kick it out of the endzone, because the ensuing kickoff return was taken to the house by San Diego's Bryan Walters (103 yards).
Score at end of 3rd Q: 17-10 Chargers
Notes for the 4th Quarter:
Let's see, Jameson Konz got a pretty gnarly sack.
Josh Portis throws a pretty ball. He started out BAD, severely overthrowing his receivers and he generally looked nervous. He settled in though, completing consecutive passes to Dominique Byrd for 23 yards and Ricardo Lockette for 16 yards, then a few plays later connecting with Anthony McCoy for 16 more yards. Two plays later, he hooked up with McCoy again in the back of the endzone on a play he extended nicely outside the pocket.
The Hawks kicked off to the Chargers and on the ensuing play from scrimmage, DE Pierre Allen had a monster sack that caused QB Scott Tolzien to cough up the ball. It was recovered by Seahawk Pep Levingston. The Hawks took over and RB Thomas Clayton went off left tackle for 25 yards and a touchdown to take the lead at 24-17.
The Hawks defense managed to hold the Chargers final drive, and came up with a big stop on 4th and goal with 0:55 to go in the game for the victory.
Final Score: Seahawks 24, Chargers 17.
Tarvaris Jackson - 3/5, 13 yards, 0/0 (TD/INT)
Charlie Whitehurst - 14/20 for 115 yards, 0/0 (TD/INT)
Josh Portis - 5/9 for 69 yards 1/0 (TD/INT)
That's what I got right now; you can expect many, many more looks at tonight's game in the next week, but I have to dig in to the tape for a better look.