If you skipped the Seahawks’ first exhibition game because, well, you don’t do training wheels, you missed a little something Sunday night: Scores on the first six possessions, 458 yards of offense, four spectacular catches from hard-luck WR Kasen Williams, four defensive turnovers and modest amounts of their own turnovers (one) and penalties (five).
Sure, the 48-17 win (box) was against the relocated Chargers, who played for the first time in their new, substandard home of 30,000-seat Stubhub Field in Carson, CA., as if the playbook was still packed in a crate in a San Diego warehouse.
But they are registered as an NFL team, and the Seahawks dominated in all phases. Coach Pete Carroll saw some validation for his training-camp contention that he may have his deepest team since the Super Bowl champions.
“We showed we were able to do a lot of stuff in all phases with the twos and threes,” he said. “I kind of expected we could be pretty good with those guys. It was a good first game to give us an indication we’re on it with depth, as we’ve been talking about with the roster competition.”
The position the Seahawks seemed most shallow, the backup job behind QB Russell Wilson, suddenly looked robust. Trevone Boykin, who was having a mediocre-at-best camp, was 12 of 15 passing for 189 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 31 yards in four carries, including a four-yard touchdown scramble following what appeared to be a broken pass play.
“He had big night,” Carroll said. “He did beautifully. Threw well, moved well, made some really big plays. Just really good command of what was going on. A really good night for Tre.”
No. 3 QB Austin Davis also looked better than he had in training camp, completing seven of nine passes for 108 yards and rushing for 18 yards in three carries. It’s one game, but if the Seahawks didn’t see significant upticks from Davis and Boykin, the possibility grew stronger that they would seek a veteran QB as soon as after the second exhibition game, at home Friday against Minnesota.
A position that was considered deep, wide receiver, nearly went dry Sunday, at least temporarily. Williams, the former University of Washington star from Skyline High in Sammamish who’s been on and off the Seahawks roster for four years, took advantage.
Sitting out were Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse and rookie draftee Amara Darboh (sternum). Then Paul Richardson left the game in the second quarter. After making a spectacular one-handed catch for 28 yards, he fell hard on his right shoulder and sprained it, according to Carroll: “It’s gonna be a little bit,” he said.
Boykin connected four times with Williams, all sideline routes with a lot of air under the ball, which gave Williams time to position his 6-5 frame for leaping grabs.
“I loved his game tonight,” Carroll said. “He lit up our sideline. Four big, substantial plays. He had three great plays, then had a better play when he took the ball away from the defender. He showed what he was all about. That was really impressive.
“Some guys are given opportunities, whether they seize them or not — he did tonight.”
The performance may have been Williams’ breakthrough moment.
“I’ve always been dedicated to practice and preparation, hoping it would click for me.,” he told Channel 13 Fox Sports. “Tonight was that night. I never stopped believing in myself. I tried to persevere through the hard times. As long as I had a Seahawks logo on my chest, I was going to have an opportunity. Going against (Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor) every day for the past two years prepared me for this moment.”
The time spent with Boykin as backups helped.
“Trevone was running the practice squad last year,” he said. “We had a lot of reps together. He’s seen what I can do. Tonight he trusted me, and it paid off.”
The Seattle defense had one score — newcomer LB Terence Garvin picked a tipped ball and ran it in from 37 yards — and nearly another when an even fresher face, LB Christian French, signed Thursday, scooped up a fumble and ran 19 yards before being tackled at the 1-yard line.
But the first-team defense had a weak showing on the game’s first series against veteran QB Philip Rivers, who moved the Chargers 75 yards, the last four on a touchdown pass to Seahawks nemesis TE Antonio Gates.
“It just didn’t look great,” Carroll said. “Rivers looked great, we made a couple of errors, and they took advantage of it.”
Another breakdown came in the late in the quarter when WR Travis Benjamin hauled in a Kellen Clemens pass for a 74-yard score. Garvin appeared to lose track/expected help from rookie safety Tedric Thompson.
“We misplayed the play,” Carroll said.
It wouldn’t be a Seahawks game without a little side drama. DE Michael Bennett supplied it during the national anthem when he chose to sit rather than join the Seahawks custom, adopted last year, of linking arms.
Bennett told reporters that he plans to continue the protest in pursuit of social justice, partly inspired by the attacks by white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA., on counter-protesters that left three dead.
“Seeing everything in Virginia and stuff that is going on I just wanted to be able to use my platform to continuously speak out on injustice,” Bennett said.
Carroll said he was unaware of Bennett’s action.
“I haven’t had a chance to think about it,” he said. “I’ll let you know later.”
Given Bennett’s sincere political activism, the gesture was little surprise.
The surprises were confined to the field, where Boykin, Williams and others had early breakthroughs that suggested the preseason may be worth opening at least one eyelid, at least half way.