SEATTLE—A quick glance at the stat sheet would seemingly show that the Seattle Seahawks had pass protection issues in Thursday's 18-11 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings. After all, Russell Wilson was sacked four times in the first half alone before the first-team offense gave way to backups in the second half.
But despite those sacks, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Wilson both felt good about the work done by the offensive line. Instead of blaming the line for sacks, Carroll noted that two of them were the result of Wilson not getting rid of the ball quickly enough when the Vikings had good coverage, while another was the offense failing to pick up a blitz despite Wilson recognizing it before the snap.
"It didn't have anything to do with the offensive line," Carroll said. "We all missed a blitz that one time… That was the one time we got into trouble. And then two other times, he just held onto the football because they covered us up. He hung in there and just waited and tried to make it happen, and then he took off and he got caught. Against a really good rushing front. You saw Everson Griffen come out like a shot to get him from behind. That often doesn't happen. That's a good group. I was really happy with the way we ran the football. Christine (Michael) ran for 50-something yards in the first half, we were averaging over 5 yards-per-carry and we rushed for a lot of yards tonight, that's a really good sign. We can really see we can clean some stuff up and get a lot better. I have a lot of respect for this team. It's a good team, just like Kansas City last week. When you make mistakes, it makes it really hard to beat them."
Carroll understands why people might see that sack total and assume it was a bad day for the line, but that's simply not what he saw Thursday night.
"I think it was fine," he said of the pass protection. "I really did. You may think I'm nuts when you look at sacks, but if you look at sacks and you don't know what you're looking at, I think you can see it differently."
For Wilson, a big part of his game has been the ability to escape pressure and make things happen after extending the play with his legs, but he also understands that sometimes the best play can be an incomplete pass. And like his coach, Wilson liked what he saw from the line despite the sack total.
"I think the line did a good job," Wilson said. "The first two sacks, they were kind of coverage sacks, (the Vikings) did a good job. It was the right call for them at the right time for the defense. And I'm trying to make a play sometimes, that's going to happen every once in a while. The other two I take the blame for. We'll just get better."
Yet even if both Wilson and Carroll made sure to point out that the line wasn't completely, or even mostly at fault, the linemen themselves still think they can and should do better.
"Our quarterback should never get touched," right tackle Garry Gilliam said. "Whether he holds the ball or it is one of us getting beat, it shouldn't physically matter. Our job is to protect him no matter what is going on, so we should take full responsibility for that stuff and get better. That's exactly what we'll do."
And no matter who's to blame for sacks, everyone involved sees plenty of room for growth between now and the regular season.
"You could look at it two ways," center Justin Britt said. "You can look at it in a bad way, or you can look at it as something to improve. That's why we do preseason, not only to build momentum for the regular season, but also to really work on your craft and get your reps so you're prepared for the regular season. Obviously we never want Russell to get hit, we take pride in that… I still feel like we're on track to do what we plan to do this year."
Check out some photos from Preseason Week 2: Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field.