Gregg Bell on what he saw, heard, thought of Seahawks' preseason opener at KC
Perhaps the Seahawks can finally trust Christine Michael.
The offensive line needs more work — but it encouraged itself and those that matter most.
Undrafted rookie Tyvis Powell made a huge first splash in trying to make this team.
And Trevone Boykin sure likes the 2-minute drill.
Those were the takeaways from the Seahawks’ preseason opener at Kansas City on Saturday.
The Chiefs led 13-3 at halftime, then 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 four snaps were completions, the last a 37-yard jump ball that 6-foot-6 Tanner McEvoy leaped and caught in the end zone with no time remaining and a defender on his back.
The Chiefs got called for too many men on the field before the ensuing two-point conversion. Then rookie Troymaine Pope ran the ball in from the 1 to send the Seahawks to a 17-16 win in one-third-full Arrowhead Stadium on a sunny, 88-degree afternoon.
Exhibition or not, the Seahawks showed heart in the Heartland. After the rally from 16-6 down with 4 minutes left, Boykin joyously ran all over the field. His new teammates sprinted off the sideline onto the turf to celebrate the finish.
It was if this was a real game.
“Yes!” coach Pete Carroll said forcefully after his seventh Seahawks preseason opener. “This game is why you play this game, to have moments like that and wins like that. There’s a lot to learn right there. Just keep banging. No time left on the clock, and we got a chance to win the football game. There is nothing better than that.”
A solid offensive line working cohesively with Wilson right now wouldn’t be bad.
Wilson said Saturday’s play showed that this is the most-together, best-communicating line he’s had in his five preseasons.
Wilson and that line — with new starters in four of the five positions —moved Seattle from its 25 to the 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 and early training-camp star drove his man 4 yards off the ball. That sent Michael on his romp off the right side.
“Oh yes, sir! Germain Ifedi is an amazing blocker, man,” Michael said. “That guy is a dog. He is going to handle somebody every play.”
Ifedi made a name for himself this month by standing up to Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, and going after veterans after whistles. After Saturday’s game, he smiled and chuckled about his block for Michael.
“Anything I can spring that run and open that hole, I’m proud,” he 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 on it. 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 and had four drives in the first 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, after presumed starting right tackle J’Marcus Webb suffered what Carroll termed a “twisted” knee. Gilliam spent all spring and summer as the first-team left tackle, but is back to the right tackle spot he played all last season.
The Seahawks’ production when the starting line was in on 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 drop backs.
Then again, it didn’t have to block Pro Bowl pass rusher Justin Houston (who is on the physically unable to perform list after offseason knee surgery) and the Chiefs’ second-best pass rusher, Tamba Hali (resting a banged knee).
“Those guys (the starting line), I thought, did really well. The only thing I thought we could do better is communicate, which is kind of normal for a first preseason game,” Seahawks line coach Tom Cable said.
He said at times his blockers identified the wrong defender and the wrong gap to protect.
But at least they were all on the same page. This time last summer, four guys went one way and the fifth another on many plays. Stayed that way into September through an 0-2 start.
“So, for the first time out, OK. Lots to learn, though,” Cable said.
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.
“The holding call that Germain got, don’t hesitate on that block. Just run it,” Cable said. “He’ll learn from that.”
Michael won’t be starting once Thomas Rawls completes his recovery from December’s broken ankle. But on Saturday, Michael ripped through would-be tackles, made cuts and held onto the ball.
It reminded one of why the Seahawks drafted him in the second round in 2013. It did not remind one of why they gave up on him last September in a trade to Dallas.
Michael gained 44 yards on seven early carries (6.3 yards per rush), then watched fifth-round pick Alex Collins and cornerback-until-Tuesday George Farmer run the ball.
What impression did Michael think he left with his team 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 at departed Brandon Mebane’s old defensive tackle spot, next to Ahtyba Rubin, and veteran Mike Morgan at the strong-side linebacker spot that Bruce Irvin had until he signed with Oakland in March.
Rookie draft choice Quinton Jefferson started at defensive end because Bennett was on the sideline in street clothes. Carroll said Bennett got sick Friday night and Saturday morning.
A long Chiefs’ return of the opening kickoff, plus a 15-yard foul for a face mask 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 stonewalled by the Chiefs line.
Alex Smith had too much time to find a secondary option at the sideline. DeShawn Shead couldn’t cover Jeremy Maclin long enough to avoid a 20-yard gain to the 1.
Then 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 was 3 for 6 passing for 34 yards and that interception before letting Boykin take it from there — minus two drives by Jake Heaps (3 for 13, two drops) in the third quarter into the fourth.
Boykin was 16 of 26 for 188 yards, 122 in the final quarter. Until the end, he relied on patient check downs underneath coverage.
Boykin held onto a handoff too long and banged into Collins on a botched read-option play, knocking down Collins when the rookie running back had the ball. That ended one of Boykin’s eight drives. Three came after he re-entered in the fourth quarter, per Carroll’s plan.
Boykin got sacked twice on his first drive of the fourth quarter. Those were the only sacks the Seahawks starting and reserve linemen allowed in 45 drop backs.
“Pretty awesome,” Wilson said. “Just to see our team’s camaraderie, to see how much everyone cares.
“We love winning.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle