After slumbering through the first three exhibition games, Seattle Seahawks first-round pick Bruce Irvin finally erupted in the 21-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night, the final preseason game for both teams.
Irvin, the No. 15 overall pick out of West Virginia, notched his first sacks of his career, twice bringing down Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the second half.
Irvin also had a forced fumble on a punt return and had a handful of quarterback pressures, giving fans at CenturyLink Field a glimpse of what Seattle coach Pete Carroll hopes is in store from the defensive end.
“It will get better,” Irvin said. “I just got to keep working, and everything will start coming along.”
While Irvin soared, the focus of Seattle’s final exhibition game was on fringe players attempting to make the team’s final 53-man roster.
The Seahawks have to cut down from 75 players to 53 by 6 p.m. today.
Running back Vai Taua is one of those players who stood out Thursday. The University of Nevada product served as a tackling dummy most of 2011, working as the scout squad running back for Seattle while spending most of the season on the practice squad.
But Taua finally got a chance to dish out some punishment Thursday.
Taua finished with 49 yards on nine carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. Taua also had five catches for 39 yards as he attempts to lock up a spot on Seattle’s 53-man roster.
Taua offers some versatility because he can play both tailback and fullback, along with playing on special teams.
However, Taua suffered a knee injury and did not play in the fourth quarter.
“He did a really good job tonight,” Carroll said. “Gosh, he ran the ball well.”
With Taua banged up and reserve running back Leon Washington unavailable after suffering an eye injury at practice this week, Seattle was low on running backs.
So former University of Washington and Lake High receiver Jermaine Kearse got a few carries in the final quarter, finishing with 9 yards on three carries.
“Not too many people get to play just a random position like that, especially in the NFL” Kearse said. “So it’s definitely a blessing to be able to do that.”
Kregg Lumpkin led Seattle with 20 carries for 71 yards.
With the win, the Seahawks finished 4-0 in exhibition play for the first time since 2009.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson played the first quarter, going 5-for-11 passing for 72 yards.
Reserve quarterback Matt Flynn played impressively in the second and third quarters, finishing 11-for-13 passing for 102 yards.
Flynn also led his first touchdown scoring drive with Seattle, connecting with rookie tight end Cooper Helfet in the flat for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 4 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“I thought he was a solid as a rock tonight,” Carroll said about Flynn’s performance. “He hit almost everything.”
Wilson led Seattle on a nine-play, 38-yard drive that set up a 25-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka, giving Seattle a 3-0 lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
The drive was set up when Irvin stripped the ball from Oakland punt returner Roscoe Parrish.
Bobby Wagner, Seattle’s second-round pick out of Utah State, recovered the fumble.
Seattle’s defense forced an impressive 10 turnovers in exhibition play, including two against the Raiders on Thursday. The Seahawks allowed a league-low 11 points a contest during exhibition play, and held the Raiders (1-3) to 101 total yards.
The Seahawks’ impressive defensive effort included rookie defensive tackle Jaye Howard tackling Oakland running back Mike Goodson in the end zone for a safety in the final quarter.
In the second quarter, Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane corralled an interception on an overthrow by Oakland quarterback Matt Leinart intended for receiver Brandon Carswell.
The Seahawks took over at Oakland’s 39-yard line, and settled for a Hauschka’s 29-yard field goal to grab a 6-0 lead with 9:32 left in the half.
Seattle did not escape without any injuries to frontline players, however.
Receiver Golden Tate twisted his knee in the second half, and will have to be evaluated.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams