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From the Sidelines: Seahawks at Chargers
SAN DIEGO — In terms of first steps, Thursday night’s preseason opener might be more than a baby step, but definitely not a leap.
No matter how you look at the 24-17 win at San Diego, it was progress, positive momentum in the right direction for the Seahawks.
Kicking off the 2011 preseason against the Chargers, the Seahawks started slow but ended fast to capture the nationally-televised victory — and move forward with a notable stride toward the regular season and their defense of the NFC West championship.
“This win was so much fun,” Coach Pete Carroll told his players in the Qualcomm Stadium visitors’ locker room after the game. “This was a good first step to getting our football team together.”
It all started in the same location about three hours earlier, when the players gathered together in the locker room just before taking the field. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had a simple set of inquiries for his teammates.
“The question is — are we ready to play?” Mebane yelled out to all the players encircling him. “Are we ready to hit them in the mouth?”
Carroll echoed those sentiments in his pregame address, signaling the official start to a new season and a new journey toward a familiar goal — to “own the NFC West,” as the head coach has declared.
“The time has finally come,” Carroll exclaimed to his team. “Hold nothing back!”
By the time the clock hit triple-zero in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had racked up a string of accomplishments. The team didn’t allow a turnover all night, the defense pitched a shutout in the second half and the offense charged to 24 points after halftime.
Then add to the list of team-wide achievements all the personal gains, and the Seahawks are looking at a very successful first night of football in 2011. Charlie Whitehurst (14-for-20 for 115 yards) and Josh Portis (5-for-9 for 69 yards) played extremely well in backup duty, tailback Thomas Clayton ran for 62 yards and a touchdown and linebacker K.J. Wright recorded a team-high eight tackles in the win.
But perhaps what the Seahawks will take most from the preseason opener are what the coaches refer to as “teachable moments.” Thursday night’s win featured a bevy of them, including penalties, sloppy play and missed chances on both sides of the ball. The relapses give the players and coaches fodder for improvement over the three remaining preseason games, while also giving them a glimpse into their potential for the regular season.
A work in progress, yet moving in the right direction — one step at a time.
“We’ve got a ton of work to do,” Carroll told his team after the win, “but I love this first step.”