Everything set up right for Julius Jones to have a big game in his Qwest Field debut for the Seattle Seahawks.
His two best games with the Dallas Cowboys had been here, he was getting his first start Sunday afternoon, and he wouldn't be sharing snaps with Maurice Morris, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
So when Jones bolted around left tackle on a draw play for a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter, it figured to be the pretext of a dream game.
Only it wasn't.
Sure, Jones carried the ball 26 times for a game-high 127 yards, but it came in the belly of a 33-30 overtime defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, and it left him with a hollow feeling in his gut.
"Any time you lose, it doesn't matter what you do individually," said Jones, who signed a free agent contract with the Seahawks in March. "You can fight hard and lose at the end like that … it's tough to swallow. Obviously we have more work to do."
Still, it was the fifth highest rushing total of his career, and added some credibility to the running game after they amassed 169 yards and touchdowns as a group – nearly double the 85 yards produced in the Week 1 loss at Buffalo. And keep in mind this was done with Floyd Womack replacing Rob Sims (torn pectoral) at right guard and Ray Willis subbing for Sean Locklear (knee) at right tackle.
So if anything good came out of the loss, it was establishing the ground game.
"We moved the ball better," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We got behind and the guys did a nice job of catching up and then going ahead."
It didn't last though. And that was the tough part. The preternatural loss of receivers Deion Branch, Doug Baldwin and Nate Burleson, coupled with both Seneca Wallace and Logan Payne knocked out indefinitely Sunday has put the entire offense on notice.
It helped immensely that Jones responded with his big game. But the reality is he's only one part of the offensive equation. The key is to take it to another level and dominate the game running the football to remove pressure from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the Hawks receiving corp.
"We are definitely going to try and build on that," Jones said. "Like I said, we still have some things to work on. We didn't really finish like we do in practice and things like that. We just have some work to do and I am really disappointed. Everybody fought hard and I am proud of everybody. But we just didn't finish like we wanted to."
And yet, his touchdown run on the draw play was a thing of beauty. It set up as pass protection, and then Hasselbeck slipped the ball to Jones. He slipped a tackle at the line and bounced outside of left tackle - outracing the Niners to the end zone. T.J. Duckett had the other touchdown on a 1-yard plunge, plus fullback Leonard Weaver had a solid game averaging 5.4 yards on 5 carries.
"It was really good blocking up front," Jones said. "I forget who the receiver was who was blocking wide, but I was able to make a move and break one or two tackles and get that in.
"It felt great, but we got an 'L,' so that taints it a little bit. But if felt great to get into a rhythm and have as many carries as I got. The timing with the offensive linemen felt good. They did really good job of opening up holes for me and Leonard and T.J. It was a great team effort."
Another good one for the rook
Offensively, the only positive in the loss at Buffalo in Week 1 seemed to be rookie tight end John Carlson with four receptions which gave him 52 yards on the day. But Sunday he took it to another level with 78 yards on 6 catches.
"John Carlson is definitely a bright spot," Hasselbeck said. "I think our tight ends in general this year have been doing a nice job. We've still have to work to do. I don't know how many catches he had. He probably had a bunch and he could have had 3-5 more than that. We'll get there. We might get there quicker because of the (wide receiver) situation. He's done a nice job."
Carlson, the second round draft choice from Notre Dame wasn't about to get carried away with himself either after the game. He has no illusions about what he accomplished nor what tasks are ahead.
"First and foremost we're here to win games," Carlson said. "And we didn't win today. That's disappointing. I had some opportunities to make plays and I made a few catches. But for me, it's the pays you leave on the field, the players you don't make. The plays you should've made, that stick with me. So those are the things I'm thinking about right now."
Not just another Bump in the road
After getting released on the final cut of preseason, former Washington State receiver Michael Bumpus had no idea what kind of opportunity the Seahawks would give him from the practice squad.
But in the wake of Nate Burleson going down for the season last Sunday with a knee injury, the Seahawks opted to sign Bumpus to the 53-man roster on Saturday. And when both Seneca Wallace (calf) and Logan Payne (knee) went down indefinitely with injuries Sunday, that opened the door for Bumpus.
He responded with two receptions and also impressively averaged 15.3 yards on three punt returns – including a big 30-yarder in the second half.
"It's been a crazy year so far," Bumpus said. "We're only two games in and we've got a lot of guys down. But you know, you've got to persevere. This game is about adversity and who handles it best. Being with these guys for a few months, I feel we'll be all right. We'll be ready for St. Louis next week."
The sack brigade
The Seahawks defense accounted for 8.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Rookie defensive end Lawrence Jackson and Patrick Kerney had 2.0 sacks apiece, with Howard Green, Julian Peterson, Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane each contributing 1.0.
Kerney led the team in tackles with six and also had two quarterback hurries.
But coach Mike Holmgren wasn't particularly thrilled with the way young 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan frequently escaped the rush and burned the Seahawks secondary. Veteran Isaac Bruce, who spent a career in St. Louis hurting the Seahawks, averaged 38.9 on 4 receptions Sunday in his 49ers debut in Seattle.
"They made a couple of plays when he broke the pocket and we missed a couple of tackles on the quarterback that we should have had. He should have been sacked more in my opinion. You let him run around back there too much, or don't get pressure on any quarterback, you secondary is vulnerable."