SAN DIEGO — Minus several weapons, the Seattle Seahawks’ starting offense struggled to move the ball in the opening quarter against the San Diego Chargers’ starters in the exhibition opener for both teams.
Following a lackluster offensive performance in an intrasquad scrimmage last week, Seattle’s Russell Wilson-led offense was held scoreless in two possessions during the first quarter of Seattle’s 31-10 win on Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium.
“We kind of staggered our way though the first couple series,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t get much done right off the bat. But that’s early in the game, and I’m not worried about it.”
Wilson finished 2-of-6 passing for 23 yards, and the second-year pro was under pressure and had to scramble around for most of the opening quarter.
“That’s the first preseason game, so you wish you were in there longer,” Wilson said. “But the great thing is, the offense kept clicking. Brady (Quinn) and Tarvaris (Jackson) did a tremendous job of getting us going and making some big-time plays.”
It didn’t help that Wilson played without his starting receiving group of Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and tight end Zach Miller — all sidelined by injuries.
But backup quarterback Brady Quinn found Jermaine Kearse for a go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter, and former starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and receiver Stephen Williams picked up the slack offensively in the second half.
Jackson and Williams twice connected on deep passing plays — a 41-yard connection that set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Spencer Ware, and a 42-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter — to help the Seahawks run away with the game.
With Marshawn Lynch relegated to watching from the sideline most of the evening, second-round draft choice Christine Michael bulled his way to 89 yards rushing on 16 attempts.
The Chargers got on the scoreboard first, taking the opening drive and marching 74 yards on 13 plays before stalling inside Seattle’s 20-yard line. The Chargers settled for Nick Novak’s 28-yard field goal.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers finished 5 of 6 on the drive for 45yards.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers went 5-of-6 for 45 yards on the drive.
And that would be it for Rivers. He gave way to former Seahawks signal-caller Charlie Whitehurst, who returned to the Chargers after two seasons in Seattle.
The Seahawks answered with a score of their own late in the second quarter. Seattle got great field position after cornerback Byron Maxwell intercepted a Whitehurst pass and returned it 28 yards to San Diego’s 14.
Three plays later, Quinn found a wide-open Kearse over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown pass, giving Seattle a 7-3 lead.
“I seen it was a man coverage and I just tried to win — tried to compete,” said Kearse, the former Lakes High School and University of Washington standout.
Kearse finished with two receptions for 31 yards, and Quinn went 6-of-11 for 59 yards.
Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka almost added another three points, but his 61-yard field goal attempt bounced off the crossbar and back into the field of play to end the first half.
The Seahawks went up 10-3 on Carson Wiggs’ 22-yard field goal, which was set up by a 46-yard punt return by Walter Thurmond.
Ware’s 6-yard run gave Seattle a 17-3 advantage, and the Jackson-to-Willams 42-yard connection made it 24-3 with 14:52 remaining in the game.
The Chargers cut Seattle’s lead to 24-10 on Brad Sorenson’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Ladarius Green.
But Jackson completed the scoring when he found fullback Derrick Coleman in the flat for 6-yard touchdown pass.
Jackson finished 8-of-9 for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Williams’ only catches were the long balls from Jackson, giving him two grabs for 83 yards.
Undrafted rookie free agent Benson Mayowa was one of the defensive stars for the Seahawks, finishing with two sacks.
“It felt amazing,” Mayowa said. “I’m out here working hard every day. And for me to come out here and do that, that’s a great step.”
Middle linebacker Allen Bradford led Seattle in tackles with a combined eight, including seven solo stops.