And you thought the drama in the home opener was in watching the Seahawks season go down the drain with a second consecutive touchdown-free game. Behind the scenes, in the first quarter, the real drama was in the locker room when the escape from the infernal abyss began to come together.
“He’s bleeding, the bone comes out of his skin,” said Doug Baldwin of fellow wide receiver Paul Richardson. “Goes in the locker room, sews it up and catches the game-winning touchdown. I couldn’t be more proud.”
“Proud” is perhaps not the concluding sentiment most Seahawks fans have regarding the dismal proceedings at the Clink Sunday. The 12-9 outcome over the lately decrepit San Francisco 49ers (0-2) met the minimum dictionary definition of a win.
Since Baldwin was unwilling to BS anyone, he came up with another expression for the game itself:
“Ugly as hell.”
That also could have described the ring finger of Richardson’s right hand. On the first series, a ball skipped hard off the wet surface and broke and dislocated the digit, tearing open the skin.
He left the field for the locker room, where the finger was X-rayed, re-set and stitched. Good to go.
“I wasn’t trying to get out there, like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s tough — he’s finishing the game,'” he said. “I wanted to go make a difference.”
Mission accomplished. With seven minutes left, he and QB Russell Wilson combined on a street-ball scramble for the Seahawks’ first and only touchdown this season, a seven-yard pass that should have been stopped by the 49ers at several moments.
But the only reason it was in place to work was because Wilson earlier in the drive took over most of the running chores as well as the throwing chores. His four carries for 27 yards, on scrambles and option keepers, were difference-makers in going 82 yards for that fancy six-pointer thing.
Was running first his specific intent?
“At the time, yeah,” said Wilson, as always expressing no consternation over the relative lameness of his teammates in running the ball. “Honestly, I don’t try to predetermine. That’s what the game gave me there at the end.”
The drive, and the one that followed to close out the game, may represent the fig leaf with which the offense uses to cover itself after a second consecutive embarrassment. Although after last season’s injuries, any solution that includes significant use of Wilson running the ball scares the hell out of many fans.
Right now, the Seahawks have no choice. Against a respectable 49ers front seven, the offensive line sputtered and stammered as it did in Green Bay, abetted this time by drops from the normally sure-handed receiving corps.
Two came in the end zone, one by RB C.J. Prosise and one by WR Tanner McEvoy. Those potential 14 points were reduced to two field goals that helped keep the inept 49ers offense thinking it had a chance. Wilson was also uncharacteristically inaccurate — 23 for 39 for 198 yards and a QB rating of 80.9.
“I think (Wilson’s passing game) was a little bit rough, but I think that’s caused by the misses that we had,” said coach Pete Carroll. “But more than all that, the way he competed down the stretch (made for) a beautifully played ballgame for us.”
It would seem Carroll and Baldwin have differing views, but it’s possible both are right. The ugliness was plain to all in the crowd of 68,729, many of whom expressed themselves angrily as a punt-fest developed.
But after a 49ers’ four-and-out possession following the TD drive, the offense took the ball with 4:47 left and ran out the clock. Rookie RB Chris Carson carried five times in a row for 41 yards before it was kneel-down time.
“In the locker room, we’re talking about how the offensive line finished,” Carroll said. “(Run) blocking, and protecting to get the touchdown drive, then to take 4:47 off the clock and kill the game.
“In was a solid performance in some ways — with a lot of room for improvement.”
It looks as if the improvement will come with Carson as the starter, although Carroll was loathe to say so. Before the game, the Seahawks surprised with the decision to keep RB Eddie Lacy inactive. That left Carson and Thomas Rawls, who opened but carried five times for four yards. Carson carried 20 times for 93 yards.
“We’re not going to over-work him,” Carroll said of Rawls in his first game back after a broken leg last season and a sprained ankle in preseason. “I just wanted to see how it went, just him playing football again.”
Of Lacy, Carroll said, “You only have so many spots. I hate that he wasn’t out there. I love Eddie, and he wanted to be part of it. But in this match-up with the guys that were healthy, this was the way we had to go.”
But there’s no doubt that Carson, the seventh-round draftee, has created an impression.
“I’ve been telling you all since training camp, he’s the real deal,” Baldwin said. “There’s an aspect to him mentally that’s very hard to find in football players. He has it. He’s going to be a phenomenal running back in this league, for as long as he wants.
“Don’t tell him I said that — keep him humble. He has all the tools in the toolbag.”
Ugly or beautiful, Carson and his buddies up front came in late and low in the fourth quarter, but they made it. A fig leaf, but it beats the hell out of the nakedness of 0-2.