Will the Seattle Seahawks make next week’s Super Bowl rematch be almost completely huddle-free?
About the only rhythm Seattle’s offense found in its cameo appearance Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium came at the ends of the first half and third quarter, when Russell Wilson directed a hurry-up, no-huddle attack. It produced two touchdowns, including a 70-yard drive in eight quick plays for the Seahawks’ only touchdown of the second half in their 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Wilson seemed at ease flipping passes over blitzes and finding uncovered running backs while calling all of those drives’ plays at the line of scrimmage. Wilson completed four of six throws in that hurried march in the third quarter, including to Marshawn Lynch alone in the left flat for a 14-yard touchdown that made it 27-21 entering the final quarter.
The other time Seattle didn’t huddle, in the final minute of the first half, Wilson drove the team 69 yards in 43 seconds for the Seahawks’ second touchdown.
Next week’s opponent, Denver and Peyton Manning, haven’t huddled since about the time Craig Morton was the Broncos’ quarterback. So if the Seahawks want to cram as many plays as they can into an offense that got off only 40 snaps Sunday because their defense couldn’t get off the field, the hurry-up might be all the rage next weekend at CenturyLink Field.
“I think the hurry-up offense shows how much we have progressed as an offense, my understanding of the plays, the system and what we are trying to do,” Wilson said, repeating what he calls his biggest area of improvement in this his third NFL season.
“We did a very good job of that, which I think we have done the past two or three years for all of the games we’ve had to come back and win.”
So will they — should they — use it more against Denver next week?
“That’s something we can hop into but we usually try to sustain the clock in terms of running the football,” Wilson said. “But when we need to, we can do it.”
Wilson has become so good that in an offense that features 1,200-yard rusher Marshawn Lynch and supersonic, do-it-all Percy Harvin opponents are molding their plans on offense to keep Wilson from taking the field.
"We were trying to keep number three (Wilson) off the field as much as we could," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Sunday.
Mission accomplished — for San Diego, that is, not Seattle.
As Carroll said, “We felt like we could move the ball. We just didn’t get it enough.”
Hurry-up became desperation after the final two of San Diego’s 25 first downs pushed the ball to midfield late, and a punt eventually pinned the Seahawks at their own 11. On 4th and 11 with 1:46 and one time out left, down 27-21, Wilson overshot double-covered Jermaine Kearse by a few yards.
San Diego added a clinching field goal with 16 seconds left.
ASSISTANT COACH PAT RUEL HOSPITALIZED
Seahawks offensive line coach Pat Ruel was taken from the locker room a few minutes after the game to a San Diego hospital as a precaution because medics detected an irregular heartbeat.
Ruel, 60, spent Sunday night in that hospital while the team flew home.
The on-field temperature reached 120 degrees during the game.
Ruel has been on the Seahawks’ staff since September of 2010, Pete Carroll’s first season as Seattle’s coach. Ruel was Carroll’s assistant line coach from 2005-09 at USC.
FLY SWEEPS TO FLIP SWEEPS
Here’s yet another way the Seahawks can and will use Harvin this season, beyond cross routes and fly sweeps and kickoff returns:
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell used Harvin on a college-like, read-option pitch sweep for a 51-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The play started with Lynch as the fullback and Harvin the tailback in an I formation. It was another variation of the zone-read, off which Wilson faked a handoff to Lynch and almost in one motion flipped the ball option style to Harvin, who sped past everyone and everything including teammate Doug Baldwin’s downfield block.
WALTERS DOES MORE THAN RETURN PUNTS
With the Chargers converting 10 of 17 third downs, there were no punts and only one fair catch for new return man Bryan Walters.
Walters, who has been on and off the Seahawks’ practice squad and active roster several times the past two seasons, came up with his first two catches since the 2011 season on Sunday. The first was for no yards, but the second was a diving grab in the second half for 17 yards during the hurry-up drive to Lynch’s TD catch.
“It felt good to get that under the belt, that’s for sure,” said Walters, a graduate of Kirkland’s Juanita High.
Walters’ two catches were part of a meager Seattle offensive performance in which the Seahawks had only 40 snaps compared with San Diego’s 75.
“It’s all about momentum and getting that rhythm going,” Walters said. “We didn’t get it going, but you have to give them credit. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates had it going and kept our offense off the field.”
Walters said it always felt as if the Seattle offense would start clicking and rally.
“We always have that mentality,” Walters said. “We know we’re a good team and we’re never out of it. We dug a hole there but we knew we had a shot and never thought we were out of it.”
The Seahawks’ inactives contained no surprises: WR Kevin Norwood, DE Greg Scruggs, injured TE Cooper Helfet, newly signed T Andrew McDonald, injured LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, injured RB Christine Michael and injured CB Tharold Simon. Norwood, the rookie fifth-round draft choice from Alabama, is close to be fully back from surgery last month to remove a bone spur in his foot. … Chargers veteran starting CB Brandon Flowers missed the game because of a quadriceps injury, though Wilson wasn’t particularly exploitive or successful targeting his replacement, Richard Marshall. … Carroll said he didn’t know of any new injuries.