After the NFL’s big announcement Thursday that it would be $675 million lighter after settling the concussion litigation with former players, it stands to reason that the league would be out to increase revenues.
Hint: Don’t bet on the Oakland Raiders. In fact, suspend the Raiders’ season and save the salaries.
Losing to the Seahawks Thursday night 22-6, the Raiders were so dreadful that it was difficult to discern much value beyond exercise at the sold-out Clink, other than to affirm that the Raiders will be lucky to finish the season 0-16.
The Seahawks’ offensive starters played the first series, went 80 yards in six plays for a touchdown to win the game right then, finishing the preseason 4-0 with their ninth consecutive exhibition win.
CB Walter Thurmond had a 29-yard punt return and an interception, QB Tarvaris Jackson led three drives to field goals, PK Stephen Hauschka kicked five field goals (three beyond 50 yards), and the second-string defense held the hapless Raiders without a touchdown, helped by four sacks, two turnovers and the absence of a starting-caliber quarterback (Matt Flynn, the ex-Seahawks QB, sat out with a sore arm).
“We wanted to have a solid progression through the preseason and we did that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re ready to go.
“We have some important decisions to make (the cut from 75 to 53 players is Saturday), and I’m really happy with how seriously we took the preseason. We got the most out of it. It’s important to me that our guys understood what we wanted. They did.”
After another turnover-free game, Carroll was particularly proud that the Seahawks had only two turnovers in preseason.
“And one was a tipped ball,” he said. “We did a fantastic job taking care of the ball. We were plus-eight in turnovers. That’s our formula: Play tough on offense, defense and special teams and take care of the ball. If we do that, we’ll win a lot of games.”
The prodigy from Idaho, defensive end Benson Mayowa, had a fourth-quarter sack and forced fumble. That made for 3.5 preseason sacks and a fine statement about keeping a place on the 53-man roster, especially with so many injuries along the defensive line. Said Carroll: “He did a good job for himself.”
Relieving Wilson after the first series and playing the rest of the first half, Jackson was 12 for 17 for 109 yards. As impressive were two dashes from the pocket that produced first downs over 12 yards. He appears to have made the choice easy. The other candidate, Brady Quinn, was 8 of 15 for 110 yards and was the victim of some drops. But Jackson has been the superior player throughout, and is a popular teammate from his earlier stint in Seattle.
CB Walter Thurmond had two big plays: A 29-yard punt return and a one-handed, lefty interception on a Terrelle Pryor sideline bomb. He’s another bubble player in a loaded secondary, but showed his value on multiple fronts.
“It’s the first time we’ve had him through the off-season and preseason,” Carroll said, referring to Thurmond’s injury history. “It’s been a long time since he felt that continuity. He had a great preseason. You’ll see him and Golden (Tate) on returns. They both can do it.”
Two players on the roster bubble, WR Bryan Walters and TE Cooper Helfet, each had a pair of drops. Another wideout, rookie draftee Chris Harper, had plenty of time in the end zone in the second quarter to watch a 40-yard pass from Jackson settle into his hands, but dropped the TD pass for no reason. echo Even the Clink fireworks operator thought it was a lock, setting off noisemakers an instant too soon.
“That was really unfortunate for him,” Carroll. “He got behind the defense and the ball took forever to get there, and it got away from him.”
Bringing the Haus-chka
Not only was Hauschka five for five in field goals, four of his six kickoffs were touchbacks. His longest field goal was 56 yards, better than his career-long of 54 set in 2008.
“Long kicks were a weakness last year, and I think I addressed that,” Hauschka said of his off-season conditioning. “I think I lost power in the second half of games.”
Said Carroll: “He has gained confidence in (his longer kicks). The preseason couldn’t have gone any better for him.”
On the game’s second scrimmage play, QB Russell Wilson launched a 50-yarder to Stephen Williams, who did what he’s done all preseason — use his height and hops to haul in a pass. But he hit the the turf hard on his head and back. He left the game for the locker room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
“He had kind of a whiplash thing as he hit the ground,” Carroll said. “We have 10 days (until the regular season opener at Carolina) and we think he’ll be all right.”
Rookie OT Michael Bowie “took a pretty good hit” to his right shoulder and had to leave the game, but Carroll had no information on severity.
“We didn’t run the ball with the second group like we should have,” said Carroll of the Seahawks’ biggest shortcoming. The second unit offensive line that played most of the game had little success against the Raiders’ front. The Seahawks gained 52 yards on the ground in 35 carries, with no gain longer than 11 yards. RB Christine Michael had only 15 yards in 13 carries.
Held out of the game for various reasons were RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Sidney Rice, FB Michael Robinson, DE Cliff Avril, DE Michael Bennett, DE Chris Clemons, DT Brandon Mebane, DT Jordan Hill, DT Tony McDaniel.
It’s going to be a lot of John (Schneider) and Pete time,” Carroll said of the 53-man roster. “This is the most competitive depth we’ve ever had. We’ve been working awhile to get to this point. It’s a difficult time because a lot of these kids deserve to make this team. We just don’t have enough spots.”