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Taua of power
Coach Pete Carroll wanted to take a long look at some of his younger players in Thursday night’s preseason finale.
And those young players certainly provided a lot to look at in a 21-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field that allowed the Seahawks to finish the preseason undefeated.
Leading the way was second-year running back Vai Taua, who played running back as well as fullback and took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Taua accounted for 54 yards on a second-quarter touchdown drive that ended with his 2-yard scoring run.
But this one wasn’t all Taua all the time. Far from it.
The defense scored again – for the third time in four preseason games – as rookie defensive lineman Jaye Howard simply ran over 300-pound center Colin Miller stuff running back Mike Goodson for a loss in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks’ other TD came on Matt Flynn’s 4-yard pass to rookie tight end Cooper Helfet in the third quarter. Rookies Bruce Irvin and Jeremy Lane contributed a fumble-forcing hit and an interception to setup a pair of field goals by Steve Hauschka in the first half.
The victory allowed the Seahawks to go undefeated in the preseason for only the second time in franchise history. They also went 4-0 in 2009, Jim Mora’s only season as coach.
The Seahawks open their 37th regular season on Sept. 9 in Arizona against the Cardinals. But first, the coaches must trim their 75-man roster to 53 players on Friday, and the performances of several young players only complicated the decisions that must be made.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson will start the opener, and he also started Thursday night. Wilson completed 5 of 11 passes for 72 yards in the quarter before Matt Flynn took over and hit 11 of 13 for 102 yards.
Irvin forced a fumble on a punt return that was recovered by rookie Bobby Wagner at the Raiders’ 38 to setup Hauschka’s 25-yard field goal in the first quarter.
After not finding his way onto the stat sheet in the first three games, Irvin, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice, had quite a finale with 1.5 sacks and the fumble-forcing hit.
The Seahawks ran their lead to 13-0 in the second quarter, as Hauschka kicked a 29-yard field goal with 9:32 left in the half and Taua scored on a 2-yard run with 1:11 remaining. Taua touched the ball on the first four plays of the drive, gaining nine, five, nine and four yards. He also touched it on the final three plays, gaining six, 13 and the final two yards for the score.
It was Lane’s interception of a Matt Leinart pass that went off receiver Brandon Carswell that setup Hauschka’s second field goal.
After taking over for Wilson, Flynn directed a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that ended with his scoring pass to Helfet with 4:29 left in the third quarter. Flynn was 5-of-5, to four different receivers, for 48 yards on the TD drive.
Irvin also had an impact in the quarter. The rookie combined with cornerback Byron Maxwell for a sack on the first play of the Raiders’ first possession of the half. He then forced an incompletion by hitting Pryor as he was throwing.
After Howard produced a safety to slap an exclamation point on the final quarter of the finale, the Raiders averted the shutout with a 30-yard field goal with 15 seconds to play.