Christine Michael made the very most of his first opportunity with Marshawn Lynch retired and Thomas Rawls still recuperating.
The offensive line needs plenty more work -- still. As expected.
Undrafted rookie Tyvis Powell made a huge, first splash in trying to make this team.
Tharold Simon still has issues with penalties at cornerback.
And Trevone Boykin sure likes the 2-minute drill.
Those were the early takeaways from the Seahawks’ preseason opener at Kansas City on Saturday. The Chiefs led 13-3 at halftime and 16-9 with 1:07 left and Seattle at its own 12. But Boykin, the undrafted rookie from TCU trying to win the No. 2 job behind franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, needed only four plays to go 88 yards. All were completions, the last a jump ball Tanner McEvoy leaped and caught in the end zone with no time remaining.
The Chiefs got called for too many men on the field before the two-point conversion. Then rookie Troymaine Pope ran the ball in on the conversion to end the Seahawks’ 17-16 win in their preseason opener Saturday in a one-third full Arrowhead Stadium on a sunny, 88-degree afternoon.
Boykin joyously ran all over the field and the Seahawks sprinted off the sideline onto the turf to celebrate the finish as if this was a real game.
“Pretty awesome,” Wilson said after playing just one series and ending it with a goal-line interception. “Just to see our team’s camaraderie, to see how much everyone cares. We love winning.”
Wilson moved Seattle from its 25 to Chiefs 14 in the first quarter. The biggest play in that span was Michael’s churning, 16-yard run. It came behind rookie right guard Germain Ifedi. The Seahawks’ first-round pick drove his man 4 yards off the ball and into the center, springing Michael’s romp off the right side.
“Oh, yes sir. Tremendous block by Germain,” the appreciative Michael said.
But from the 14 Wilson held on to the ball too long moving to his right and looking at Jermaine Kearse at the goal line. By the time the pass got to the previously-open Kearse, another former Washington Husky closed to the ball. Last season’s Chiefs rookie star Marcus Peters made a great, lunging interception at the goal line to end Seattle’s opening drive.
Boykin entered after that. Five of his first 10 passes were to Richardson, on short throws. Three were complete. Boykin had four drives in that half. He played the first three with the starting offensive line of Bradley Sowell at left tackle, Mark Glowinski at left guard, Justin Britt at center, Ifedi at right guard and Garry Gilliam at right tackle.
That was the alignment in practice on Wednesday and Thursday back in Renton, after presumed starting right tackle J’Marcus Webb got what coach Pete Carroll termed a “twisted” knee. Gilliam spent all spring and summer as the first-team left tackle but for now is back to the right-tackle spot he played all last season.
The Seahawks’ production when the starting line was in four drives (two against Kansas City’s reserves), 26 plays, 87 yards (for 3.3 yds/play), seven first downs, three points and no sacks in 15 dropbacks. Needless to say, 3.3 yards per play will not get it done once the games get real, beginning Sept. 11 against Miami.
Boykin and the first-team offense produced 26 yards on 16 plays (1.6 yards per play), two first downs and three points on three drives in the first half. Two of those three drives came against the Chiefs’ second-team defense. The starters had one holding penalty, on Ifedi. That ruined a drive that had reached the Chiefs 23 and resulted instead in Steven Hauschka’s 52-yard field goal.
One positive from its otherwise middling-at-best performance: the starting line did not allow a sack in nine pass plays.
Then again, it didn’t have to block All-World Justin Houston (who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list after offseason knee surgery) and the Chiefs’ second-best pass rusher, Tamba Halu (resting a banged knee early in camp).
But, hey, for this in-flux, iffy unit, that’s progress.
Michael, who won’t be starting once Rawls ends his recovery from a broken ankle in December, ripped through would-be tackles and made cuts. His day reminded why the Seahawks drafted him in the second round in 2013 -- and did not remind that the Seahawks gave up on him last September in a trade to Dallas before bringing him back because of injuries. He gained 44 yards on seven early carries (6.3 yards per rush), then watched rookie fifth-round pick Alex Collins and cornerback-until-Tuesday George Farmer run the ball.
I asked Michael, whom the Seahawks sent away last year at this time because they weren’t sure they could trust him, what impression he thought he left with them Saturday.
“That I’m doing my job,” Michael said. “I just want the guys to trust me.”
Seattle’s starting defense had rookie second-round pick Jarran Reed starting at departed Brandon Mebane’s old defensive-tackle spot next to Ahtyba Rubin and veteran Mike Morgan at the strongside linebacker spot Bruce Irvin had until he signed with Oakland in March. Rookie draft choice Quinton Jefferson started at defensive end because Pro Bowl end Michael Bennett was on the sidelines in street clothes resting. Jeremy Lane started at right cornerback, then moved inside to nickel back with DeShawn Shead at right corner when the Seahawks went to five defensive backs.
A long Chiefs return of the opening kickoff plus a 15-yard foul for a facemask on Steven Terrell when he made the tackle gave Kansas City an opening drive start at the Seattle 49. The Chiefs got four first downs on eight plays, including when Seattle’s four-man rush with Cassius Marsh and Cliff Avril as rush ends got zero penetration. That gave Alex Smith more than six seconds to find a secondary option at the sideline; Shead couldn’t cover ight plays and four first downs later, 229-pound Chiefs running back Spencer Ware met 202-pound Seahawks safety Earl Thomas in the hole on a running play from the 1. Ware won. Kansas City led 7-0.
Wilson answered with his sharp, only drive -- sharp, that is, until he held the ball late while scrambling and threw late to previously open Jermaine Kearse.
Wilson was 3 for 6 passing for 34 yards and that interception before letting Boykin take it from there until Jake Heaps entered late in the third quarter.
Boykin was 16 of 26 for 188 yards, 122 in the fourth quarter. Until the end, he relied on patient checkdowns underneath coverage. He held onto a handoff too long and banged into Alex Collins on a botched read-option play, knocking down Collins when the rookie running back had the ball. That ended one of Boykin’s seven drives. Two came after he re-entered in the fourth quarter. That was after Heaps, who didn’t appear hurt from the press box, led three drives.
Boykin got sacked twice on that his first drive of the fourth quarter. Those were the only two sacks the Seahawks starting and reserve linemen allowed in 45 drop backs.
Heaps, the former Skyline High School star in Seattle’s suburbs, completed 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards. That included drops by wide receivers Douglas McNeil and rookie seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler.
Simon had an interception go off his hands when he mis-timed his jump and almost created a long Chiefs touchdown catch instead on the play. He also had an interference penalty on a third and long to extend a Chiefs drive, when he didn’t turn his head around to find the ball down the sideline. It wasn’t a great showing he needs in the often-injured, fourth-year veteran’s attempt to win the right cornerback job.
Powell is an undrafted rookie safety from Ohio State. He tweeted before the game what a dream come true this first NFL game was for him.
Then he delivered a dream block, a crunching blow to the chest of Kansas City’s D.J. Alexander. That freed Tyler Lockett for a 16-yard punt return in the first quarter. Powell also sprinted almost 60 yards to down Jon Ryan’s punt on the Chiefs 4-yard line. Though a replay review determined he batted the ball back in play while in the end zone for a touchback, coaches notice such hustle plays.
And an undrafted rookie’s surest way onto this roster is with special-teams effort. Just ask Jermaine Kearse.
Then in the fourth quarter Powell caught a deflected pass from Kansas City’s Tyler Bray for an interception. His new teammates mobbed Powell on the sideline for that play.