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A costly victory
SAN DIEGO – The last thing coach Pete Carroll wanted in the Seahawks’ preseason opener was one of the first things he got: An injury to a pivotal player.
The Seahawks rallied impressively in the second half to pull out a 24-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers in a nationally televised game at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night, but they also lost left tackle Russell Okung to a sprained left ankle on the first series.
“It was non-contact. He just felt a pop in there,” Carroll said after the game, adding that X-rays showed no structural damage. “He’s real disappointed, obviously.”
But Carroll was just as obviously pleased with the effort of his younger player in the second half. In the team meeting on Wednesday night, Carroll dedicated the game to the them and they responded by scoring 24 second-half points after the Chargers had taken a 10-0 lead at the half.
“It was really great to see them finish the game,” Carroll said after they had done just that. “They won on defense and knocked the winning touchdown in with the third group in there and all those young pups in there.
“So it was really exciting to see that happen.”
What happened was this:
Rookie QB Josh Porter threw a 6-yard TD pass to second-year tight end Anthony McCoy with 4 minutes left to tie the score at 17. The score capped a 10-play, 84-yard drive that was highlighted by Portis passing 23 yards to third-year tight end Dominique Byrd on third-and-1, 16 yards to rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette and 16 yards to McCoy on third-and-6.
On the Chargers’ next play, rookie defensive end Pierre Allen came up with a fumble-forcing sack of Chargers QB Scott Tolizen and rookie defensive tackle Pep Levingston recovered the ball at the Chargers’ 22-yard line.
Two plays later, third-year running back Thomas Clayton scored on a 25-yard run to make it 24-17 with 3 minutes to play.
“The offensive line did a wonderful. I definitely credit them for the score,” Clayton said.
That line was comprised of – from left tackle to right – Will Robinson, Brent Osborne, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Zach Hurt and Breno Giacomini. Not a household name in the bunch, but they brought Clayton and the Seahawks home on that play.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Clayton said.
This one wasn’t over just yet, however, as Tolizen drove the Chargers to the Seahawks’ 5-yard line. But when rookie safety Jeron Johnson tipped away a fourth-down pass intended for Travon Peterson in the end zone, the Seahawks had their hard-fought – if somewhat costly – victory.
“It was fun,” Johnson said. “I felt I should have picked it. But I had fun out there tonight. Last night, coach (Carroll) had the older guys talk to us, calm our nerves a little bit so we could just go out there and play football.”
Okung, a first-round draft choice last year, suffered a high sprain of his right ankle in the second preseason game of his rookie season. He then got a high sprain of his left ankle during the regular season. Carroll said the latest injury is “in that area.”
“He was setting up and just pushing off it,” Carroll said. “That’s encouraging that it wasn’t somebody fell on it or he got all twisted.
“We’ll see. We’ve got to do some stuff to check it out further.”
But Carroll also was upbeat after the game – and even pumped along sideline during it – because of the way the second- and third-units played in the second half.
Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst, who was obtained in a trade with the Chargers last year, completed 14 of 20 passes for 115 yards in leading a nine-play, 62-yard drive to a 1-yard TD run by Leon Washington and a 13-play, 47-yard drive to a 28-yard field goal by Brandon Coutu in the third quarter.
Portis was 5 of 9 for 69 yards in directing the two late scores that won the game.
The Seahawks needed it all after the Chargers put together a 10-play, 89-yard TD drive on their first possession and also got a 103-yard kickoff return for a score by Bryan Walters in the third quarter.
But they also got it all, and from their “young pups.”
“We talked so much about finishing, and that’s what we did tonight,” Carroll said. “We shut them out on defense in the second half. We scored 24 points on offense in the second half. That’s cool stuff.”