Playing “clean” and taking care of the ball better were the Seattle Seahawks’ goals for this second exhibition.
Finding a consistently effective set of five offensive linemen remains their task for the regular season.
Russell Wilson completed nine of 15 passes and connected three times with new tight end Jimmy Graham on the best drive of the starters’ full first half. That was also the drive new starting right tackle Garry Gilliam stonewalled exquisite Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston twice, allowing Wilson his only time of the night to find Graham down the field.
And that — plus middle linebacker Bobby Wagner making one of his All-Pro plays with a reaching interception and 21-yard jog to the end zone for Seattle’s only touchdown, a feat he had told Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith before the game he was going to do — were the high points of the Seahawks’ 14-13 loss to the Chiefs at half-full Arrowhead Stadium.
Graham finished with three catches for 39 yards in his half. End Michael Bennett up front and fill-in cornerback DeShawn Shead in the back stood out on defense as starters on both sides of the ball played the entire first half. That ended with the Seahawks leading 10-7, thanks to Wagner’s pick-six.
His strolling return after first foreshadowing, then fooling, then intercepting Smith in the short zone was the easiest run Wagner’s made since his trip to the bank after an
$8 million signing bonus this month. The recently enriched, $43 million linebacker read the pass before Smith even looked toward Chiefs wide receiver Jason Avant.
“I just sat back and read his eyes,” Wagner said. “I just stared at (Smith) because I told him I was going to do that before the game.”
Smith’s response to the pregame woofing?
“He just laughed,” Wagner said. “He said some other things, but I can’t repeat that.
“I’ve never scored a touchdown (on defense). Never. In my life. Well in high school, when I was a tight end, yeah. But I’ve never had a pick-six in my life. Felt amazing.”
The same can’t be said for the rest of Seattle’s second of four dry runs before the games get real Sept. 13 at St. Louis.
Wilson didn’t get sacked, after losing a fumble on one on the preseason’s second play against Denver last week and getting dumped the drive after that, too. Those were two of the Broncos’ seven sacks last week. But Kansas City continually stuffed running lanes that Seattle’s linemen often couldn’t open or, worse, sometimes ran past on missed assignments.
Seattle managed just 36 yards on its first 18 rushing plays. Sure, that’s with the NFL’s rushing leader since 2011, Marshawn Lynch, on his annual August game hiatus. But still.
“No, I didn’t think we got the spacing that we need for what we ran,” Carroll said, adding the team only ran about a third of the running plays it will run in a regular-season game. “We wanted to see us come off the ball and play good, fundamental football and not make it too difficult for the guys up front as we get going here.
“We just didn’t get the kind of movement that we need. … We got knocked around a little bit.”
On the best-looking drive for the Seahawks’ offense, Wilson used a bootleg rollout right for a completion to Graham for a first down. He’ll be rolling out or throwing quickly often this month until this shuffling offensive line settles.
That play was after Gilliam allowed Houston to speed around him and force a Wilson throwaway. Gilliam rebounded to stymie Houston on a rare straight dropback by Wilson. That allowed the QB to find Graham sprinting down the left hashmark for a 21-yard gain into the red zone.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable will likely enjoy the film of that 14-play, 59-yard drive to Steven Hauschka’s first field goal, for 39 yards. But not much else.
Alvin Bailey, who began the month as the presumed starter at left guard but entered in the third quarter Friday as the backup left tackle, blocked no one on a third-and-goal run by Robert Turbin off left tackle from the Chiefs 3 in the third quarter. Kansas City dumped Turbin for a 6-yard loss, and the Seahawks had to settle for Hauschka’s second field.
The defense, though, flew around and tackled at regular-season speed. Especially Wagner and outside linebacker K.J. Wright. Wright finished with six tackles in one half.
Seattle allowed 124 yards on Kansas City’s 34 plays in the first two quarters when both teams’ starters played. The Chiefs’ only touchdown came on a 14-play, 83-yard drive aided by a face-mask foul on Steven Terrell, the free safety filling in while All-Pro Earl Thomas recuperates from February shoulder surgery. Terrell’s foul came while he was getting driven into the sideline, turning a second-and-21 mess for the Chiefs in their own end into a first down near midfield.
Carroll bemoaned Seattle’s 11 penalties for 105 lost yards.
Wright said his defense played with a larger chip on its shoulder than usual for a preseason game. That’s because the Seahawks still remember the Chiefs’ physically pounding, 24-20 loss here last November.
“We really tried to redeem ourselves,” Wright said, “because the last time we played the Chiefs we got embarrassed.”
The second-team defense entered and, partly because of a roughing-the-passer foul on emerging-but-now-injured defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith, allowed the Chiefs to score the go-ahead touchdown. Kansas City backup Chase Daniels’ pass to tight end James O’Shaugnessy went right past Wagner’s backup, Brock Coyle, for a 1-yard score on third down.
“I was pleased with the intensity, the running and hitting, across the board, with the first-through-third strings,” Carroll said.
“We’re used to running the ball a whole more significantly than we are through two games. So that continues to be an issue for us to work at. That might change when 24 gets in there.
“But we need to block better, in general.”