In their first game in front of the 12th Man since last season’s NFC Championship Game, the Seattle Seahawks regained their form in a 41-14 win over the San Diego Chargers.
It was the quarterbacks who stole the show, but not in the way you might think. Russell Wilson, Terelle Pryor and BJ Daniels combined for four rushing touchdowns on the night, leading the Seahawks to a big win in front of the home crowd at CenturyLink Field.
Unlike the previous week, the Seahawks had no trouble moving the ball early. On the game’s opening drive, Russell Wilson found Percy Harvin twice on the first three plays, one being a screen pass and the other a nice third down conversion. Getting Percy Harvin the ball will be important in the preseason as he’ll have to step up into a bigger role this year with Sidney Rice now gone.
Later in the drive, Wilson took his first shot at the end zone, but a pass intended for Doug Baldwin sailed over his head. Fortunately for Seattle, Flowers was called for defensive pass interference, giving the Seahawks a first and goal at the 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, Robert Turbin punched it in to cap off a 9-play, 74-yard opening drive to give Seattle an early 7-0 lead. On the 7-yard line, Turbin broke free for a 47-yard run into San Diego territory to get the Seahawks out of some bad field position.
Two plays later, Wilson broke free from the pocket for his first run, a 12-yard gain. A bubble screen pass to Harvin fell short of the first down, but Steven Hauschka was able to convert on a 38-yard field goal to give the Seahawks a 10-0 lead with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
During the first quarter, the Seahawks ran for 94 yards, or if you remember, the same amount of yards they rushed for all game against Denver last week. Yes, that number was a little inflated by Turbin’s big run, but both Turbin and Christine Michael seemed to be getting some good runs in early on.
On Seattle’s first drive of the 2nd quarter, Wilson found Zach Miller wide open in the middle of the field for a 37-yard gain. On 3rd down at the 1-yard line, Wilson read the blitz to perfection and had no problem running right to the end zone. San Diego’s blitz failed terribly, leaving the right side of the field wide open with only Manti Te’o to beat.
Seattle also did a good job keeping the penalties down early. It took until the 9:17 mark for the Seahawks to get flagged for the first time, but had no trouble recovering, forcing another 3-and-out. This included a "false start" against the Chargers, which actually should have been a flag against Seattle as Cliff Avril jumped across the line first.
In a move that surprised me personally, the Seahawks offensive starters came back in for their fourth series of the night. Yeah, you have to get as many reps as you can without risking injury, but with a 17-0 lead, I thought we’d seen plenty from the starters. Wilson was able to break off another nice run as the Chargers once again left the middle of the field completely open.
During this possession, the Seahawks upped the tempo as they went to a hurry-up offense. On a 1st and Goal play from the 13-yard line, Wilson was able to dodge a blitz from Jerry Attaochu, lobbing a pass to Doug Baldwin in the back of the end zone. Unfortunately, Baldwin took a big shot coming down and was a little slow to get up. Adding salt to the wound, Baldwin’s left foot never came down before he got rocked, so the call was overturned as a result. Had he not taken the hit, it probably would have been a touchdown.
Understandably enough, Baldwin had a little chat with the ref, saying, "I got the s%!* knocked out of me!" Wilson did his best to make up for it, rushing for his second straight touchdown on the night to give Seattle a 24-0 lead.
Wilson finished his night completing 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards, adding two rushing touchdowns of his own. Wilson ran the ball four times for 31 yards.
During the first half, the Seahawks defense had no problem putting pressure on the Chargers, including O’Brien Schofield who had a few QB hits in the first half. Even just looking at this photo of one of his shots hurts.
San Diego finally got on the board with 44 seconds left in the first half. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Phillip Adams flipped sides at the last moment, leaving Keenan Allen wide open in the back of the end zone.
The Seahawks went into recess with a 24-7 lead after posting 260 total yards of offense, 144 of those yards coming on the ground. Aside from Wilson’s accuracy, I liked the gritty effort from Robert Turbin, who carried the ball 12 times for 81 yards and one touchdown in the first half. Christine Michael had a couple nice carries, but Turbin was the real workhorse of the first half. Christine Michael also got eight carries for 45 yards.
Kellen Clemons continued to get roughed up early in the second half as Mike Morgan and Jordan Hill sandwiched Clemons, forcing a punt, a punt which Bryan Walters nearly ran all the way back.
Steven Hauschka got some extra work for his seemingly robotic leg on the ensuing drive, booting a 55-yard field goal through the uprights to extend Seattle’s lead to 20 points. For what its worth, Hauschka’s longest field goal of 2013 was 53 yards.
Late in the third quarter, Tharold Simon nearly came up with an interception as he read the pass and turned his body perfectly, but just couldn’t maintain possession as he came down to the ground. Obviously, he looked quite frustrated with himself immediately after, knowing he missed out on a big chance to get some recognition. Apparently for the entire commercial break afterwards, Richard Sherman was yapping in Simon’s ear non-stop. Good teams have veterans that hold the younger guys accountable, so it’s good to see Sherman isn’t afraid to get in the ear of Simon and hopefully motivate him a little more.
Immediately after, we saw another illegal contact flag. This time, it nullified a 105-yard interception return for a touchdown for Tharold Simon. Watch the replay in GIF format, and you can see how this call will probably get a little out of hand this year.
Stop touching receivers at all! http://t.co/g5buLYqfLK— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) August 16, 2014
It looked as though Simon was able to shake it off pretty well. As a matter of fact, Simon and Sherman watched the replay on the board together laughing about it. So instead of a 34-7 lead, Clemmens found Jake Byrne for the touchdown to make it a 27-14 game. I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll see this type of thing happen a lot this year. A huge, momentum-swinging or nail-in-the-coffin play called back for illegal contact with the offense taking advantage of the break like the Chargers did here.
In another great candid moment you can only get in preseason football, Earl Thomas was asked what he thought of the illegal contact call against Simon. "It’s just the Legion of Boom rule," he replied.
In one of the more impressive plays of the night, Terrelle Pryor ran a bootleg play to perfection, breaking free down the field 44 yards for the touchdown. Pete Carroll wasted no time rushing over to Pryor to congratulate him on the sidelines. I really like what I’ve seen from Pryor so far these first couple weeks. Sure, he’s never made a big impact in the NFL, but with his athleticism, I would love to see him in that backup role behind Wilson.
Not only to see him play in the occasional blowout, but to see how he would handle being Wilson’s backup knowing that will always be his role in Seattle. He’s talked about how excited he is to learn from Wilson and Carroll, but is that just the early season excitement of being with a winning team, or is that same positive attitude going to hold steady as the year goes on with him staying on the sidelines?
Capping off the night was a 6-yard touchdown run by BJ Daniels, putting the icing on the cake as the Seahawks cruised to their first win of the preseason. In one of my favorite tweets of the night, it was revealed that Terelle Pryor and BJ Daniels were trending on Twitter at the same time. Because, you know, preseason football.
One of the biggest takeaways in my opinion was Seattle’s ability to score almost every time they got the ball. This part of football isn’t rocket science. You get the ball and you want to score every time. Obviously, that won’t always happen, but the Seahawks came pretty close to doing that in this game. Seattle’s one-play drive to run out the clock at the end of the first half, and the final few plays to wrap things up were their only drives where they didn’t score. So essentially, when the Seahawks wanted to score, they did.
Seattle will stay at home as they prepare to face the Chicago Bears next Friday at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm PT.