Plenty of positives in 14-13 loss to Chiefs

Though the final score doesn't reflect it, a revamped offensive line provided vastly improved pass protection Friday night against a talented Kansas City front seven at Arrowhead Stadium. Defenders Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, DeShawn Shead and Dion Bailey also made splashy plays in the loss.

Now, let's be clear. For the ultra-competitive Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, any loss is disappointing. The Seahawks only earned 13 first downs in the entire game and produced just 227 total yards. By comparison, the Chiefs had 20 first downs and 238 Total Yards despite barely playing superstar running back Jamaal Charles. Further, the Seahwawks' only touchdown of the contest came on a defensive score.

However, with the team making so many adjustments along the offensive linemen, playing third string quarterback R.J. Archer the entire second half and holding out All-Pros Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch (among others), there were plenty of positive takeaways from Friday night's 14-13 loss. The goal, after all, is to be prepared for the regular season not rack up preseason victories.

Right tackle Garry Gilliam faced the toughest challenge, often being called upon to block Chiefs' All-Pro outside linebacker Justin Houston. Though his technique wasn't always clean, Gilliam's length and athleticism kept Houston off Russell Wilson in the first half.

He was occasionally aided by chip blocks from right guard J.R. Sweezy and tight end Jimmy Graham, but Gilliam also showed encouraging core strength to anchor against Houston's bull rushes as well as the patience and balance to slide laterally.

While effective in pass protection, the former tight end showed his inexperience when run blocking. Gilliam is quick off the ball and even occasionally was asked to slip to the second level. Once there, however, he wasn't often able to latch on and control linebackers. When asked to cut block defensive linemen, Gilliam showed the requisite quickness and agility but hit defenders too high and without enough force to knock them off their feet.

The man Gilliam replaced at right tackle - fellow second-year pro Justin Britt - was also a relative bright spot for the Seahawks in this contest. With the Chiefs' top defensive lineman - nose tackle Dontari Poe - out of this game, Britt didn't have the frightening matchup that Gilliam was forced to take on. Britt used his terrific initial punch and impressive balance of his own to clear space in the running game and hold up nicely in pass protection.

The encouraging play from Gilliam and Britt could make the Seahawks less likely to offer much to free agent guard Evan Mathis, who SeahawkFootball.com has confirmed will be visiting Seattle Saturday. If the Seahawks feel confident that Gilliam (or 2014 swing tackle Alvin Bailey) can hold up at right tackle, Britt should be able to provide the consistency that free agent departure James Carpenter quietly provided a year ago at left guard.

As promising as Seattle's offensive line looked Friday night, other encouraging play was recorded by strong safety Dion Bailey, who provided several big hits in his first career NFL start.

Bailey, starting in place of holdout All-Pro Kam Chancellor, consistently took aggressive angles to the ball, cutting off the legs of blockers and ball-carriers, alike. Bailey also is a key special teams performer, playing throughout the night on punt coverage, nearly tackling Kansas City rookie returner Chris Conley for a safety with approximately three minutes remaining.

Lining up at cornerback rather than safety, DeShawn Shead also enjoyed a standout game. The 6-2, 220 pound Shead has impressive fluidity and closing speed for a player of his size and used his long arms well to cloud the vision of Kansas City's receivers when the ball was thrown in his direction.

The flashiest plays of the night, however, were turned in by Seattle's stars. All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner intercepted a pass from Alex Smith and returned it 25 yards for the Seahawks' first touchdown of the game. Outside linebacker K.J. Wright provided several eye-popping plays of his own, slicing through the line to ruin sweeps and screens.

On the offensive side of the ball, Graham was the "big" story. The 6-7, 265 pounder was simply too big and fast for Kansas City's defenders, hauling in three passes for 39 yards in the first half. The highlight was a 21-yard gain down the seam in which Wilson threat the ball slightly behind him. Graham showed off his remarkable body control, easily adjusting to pluck the ball despite tight coverage from the Chiefs one play after he was called for holding. The reception turned a 2nd and 18 into a first down, providing the spark that ultimately resulted in Seattle's first points of the game, a 39-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.

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