John McGrath

It was supposed to be be a gimme for the Seahawks, instead it was nearly a gotcha

Seahawks defensive lineman Nazair Jones sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter. The Seattle Seahawks played the Indianapolis Colts in a NFL football game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday.
Seahawks defensive lineman Nazair Jones sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter. The Seattle Seahawks played the Indianapolis Colts in a NFL football game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Blessed are the schedule makers, for they shall be called friends of the Seahawks.

Lamenting the schedule has become as routine for Seattle area sports fans as griping about the rush-hour commute. The Pac-12 apparently has decreed that Washington football team never will play another afternoon game not nicknamed the Apple Cup. The Mariners’ August slate put them on a two-week, four-city road trip that began with them swaggering and ended with them staggering.

And then there are the Seahawks, who should have been beneficiaries of a league that on Sunday night gave them a chance to regroup against an opponent ideally suited for any team needing to regroup.

Bringing the Indianapolis Colts to CenturyLink Field for an Oct. 1 date involved some kismet. If the Colts’ visit had been set for November or December, it’s likely three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck would have started against the Hawks.

The last time they faced Luck, in 2013, he led Indy to a fourth-quarter comeback victory that snapped Seattle’s 10-game regular-season winning streak. No such Luck was in store for the Colts on Sunday, when backup Jacoby Brissett made the first road start of his two-year career.

Finding a replacement for Luck is something with which the Colts are familiar. He’s missed 13 games since 2015, temporarily turning the job over to the likes of Matt Hasselbeck. Josh Freeman, Scott Tolzien, Charlie Whitehurst and Ryan Lindley.

The versatile Brissett gives the Colts more tools than any of those guys, but behind an offensive line absent starting center Ryan Kelly, his hands were supposed to be full and his head was supposed to be cluttered.

Brissett got a quick idea of what awaited him on the second snap of the game, when defensive tackle forced a hurried pass that fell incomplete. After the whistle was blown, the Colts rookie backup center, Deyshawn Bond, remained on the ground, victim of what appeared to be a serious left knee injury.

On their ensuing possession, Brissett hooked up with tight end Brandon Williams for a 32-yard gain, but communication problems related to the Colts injuries — they were down to third-team center Adam Redmond — drew a pair false-start penalties that stalled the drive.

While the Colts were challenged on offense in the first quarter, the Seahawks had issues of their own. Cornerback Jeremy Lane was sidelined with a hip problem, moments before defensive end Cliff Avril was lost to a neck injury.

As for the offense, the Hawks continued their pattern of sluggish of early play. Terrific execution by the Indianapolis punting unit led to a safety when Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked in the end zone, but even with more favorable field position, the ground attack sputtered.

The curious case of the depth-chart status of running backs Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls gets curiouser and curiouser. Two weeks ago, Lacy was designated as inactive against the 49ers. Sunday was Rawls’ turn to sit out.

Given the offense’s struggle to find any kind rhythm against a fired-up Indy defense, it was fitting that the Hawks scored the game’s first touchdown on Justin Coleman’s 28-yard interception return of a Brissett pass.

Coleman’s diamond-lane dash down the right sideline gave the Seahawks both a 10-2 lead and a sense of normalcy. Only a matter of time, it seemed, before the eight-point lead would be expanded well into double digits.

But Brissett had other ideas, and so did his teammates. Buoyed by a succession of replay-review calls overturned in their favor, the visitors stuck around long enough to give themselves a puncher’s chance.

When Brissett launched an 18-yard pass that wide receiver Dante Moncrief went halfway to the stars to haul for a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining before halftime, their puncher's chance turned into something that had the potential of a knockout blow.

And when Blair Walsh missed a 39-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the second quarter, fans let the Hawks know what it thought of their first-half effort.

Brissett last week predicted the crowd would be rowdy, consequence of a 5:30 p.m. kickoff conducive to extended pregame revelry.

He was right, in a way. As the Hawks headed toward the locker room, their home reeked of boos.

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