Seahawks rally behind their rookies

Posted Aug 9, 2013

After spotting the San Diego Chargers a 3-0 lead, the Seahawks turned things over to their younger players and ripped off 31 points in rolling to a victory in their preseason opener.

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – Pete Carroll dedicated the Seahawks’ preseason opener to the rookies on the team.

The Seahawks’ fourth-year head coach made the gesture for the obvious reason: They were playing their first NFL game on Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. And don’t even think about suggesting to those first-game players that this game didn’t really count.

Better yet, the rookies came up with dedicated efforts in helping the Seahawks to an impressive 31-10 victory. Including a couple of veterans who felt like rookies in this one, and played with that kind of fervor – quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and wide receiver Stephen Jackson, who spent last season with the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals.

“It was a cool night for the rookies, getting their first shot to play,” Carroll said. “We kind of dedicated this game to them in our meetings at the end of the week. It was the first time they’ve ever played NFL football and they did a good job.

“They got out there and got a win and finished really well. Played like Seahawks.”

Then there was Jackson, the Seahawks’ starter in 2011 who was traded to the Bills last summer after rookie Russell Wilson had won the starting job. Jackson never appeared in a game for the Bills and was released this offseason, despite being signed to a new contract.

Thursday night, he was nearly perfect while fashioning a 158.3 passer rating. Jackson completed 8 of 9 passes for 128 yards after taking over in the third quarter for Brady Quinn, who had taken over in the second quarter for Wilson. Jackson and Williams hooked up on a beautiful 42-yard TD pass, and also a 41-yarder to setup a 6-yard TD run by rookie running back Spencer Ware.

“That was my first game, really, since 2011 against the Arizona Cardinals in the last game of the season,” Jackson said. “It’s been a long time, so it was just fun being out there.”

Then there was Williams, the 6-foot-5, 208-pounder who the Cardinals gave up on. He also was out there with Jackson, and they definitely seemed to be having fun. Each of Williams’ big plays came on go- routes, and he does know how to go. 

“You can’t teach size and speed,” Jackson said of Williams. “He can run. He can catch the ball. He’s a big guy so you can just throw it up to him.”

On his TD catch, the defender was giving Williams ample cushion. “The guy was 8, 9 yards off him and he ate his cushion up in a couple of steps and ran past him,” Jackson said.

Offered Williams, “Just getting back in the swing of things. Last year, I missed the majority of the season with an Achilles injury, so being in a game I kind of felt like a rookie all over again.”

But this one was far from a two-man show.

Running back Christine Michael, the team’s top pick in April’s NFL Draft, carried 16 times for 89 yards. Defensive end Benson Mayowa, who was signed after being given a tryout at the rookie minicamp in May, collected 1.5 sacks. Defensive end Ty Powell, a seventh-round pick, had six solo tackles. John Lotulelei, another rookie free agent, had a tackle for a loss among his three solo stops. Rookie tight end Luke Willson started the game and had a 15-yard reception on a third-and-7 play.

But wait, there’s more – from more.

Second-year wide receiver Jermaine Kearse caught an 11-yard TD pass from Quinn for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. In their search to find a punt returner to replace Leon Washington, the coaches saw three capable of breaking big returns as Walter Thurmond had a 46-yarder to setup a field goal; Perez Ashford had a 27-yarder to setup a TD; and Will Blackmon had a 19-yarder to setup a TD.

But wait, there’s still more – again, from others who are competing to show they deserve a role on this team, or at the least a spot on the 53-man roster.

Third-year cornerback Byron Maxwell had an interception and 28-yard return, as did backup safety Chris Maragos.

There were things for Carroll and his staff to teach to as the players prepare for next Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field. Like eight penalties. Some missed tackles. And a few missed assignments.

But all in all, Carroll emerged from the opener pleased.

“What I thought I saw in this game tonight was the guys who have been doing stuff in practice did it in the game,” he said.