And a whole lot of missed field goals.
The Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 14-10, at Arrowhead Stadium, despite three blown kicks by Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu, as well as an early Matt Hasselbeck interception that was returned by cornerback Brandon Flowers for a 28-yard touchdown with 11:28 left in the first quarter. Hasselbeck rebounded quickly, leading Seattle to long drives on two of their next three possessions.
But the drives ended in Mare misses, and the team didn't score until their quarterback took matters into his own hands in a drive starting with two minutes left in the first half. Newcomer T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught three passes for 35 yards on a seven-play, 47-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Hasselbeck's newest target. One of those plays was a drive-saver, as Housh had the presence of mind to stay at the line of scrimmage on a bobbled snap, and this allowed Hasselbeck to get him the ball on a little shovel pass for an 18-yard gain.
|KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 29: Edgerrin James #32 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up against the Kansas City Chiefs during their preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 29, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)|
The Seahawks got the ball to open the second half, and Hasselbeck used tight end John Carlson as his primary weapon on his second touchdown drive. Carlson once again showed his ability to run crisp timing routes over the middle and exploit spaces in zones to pick up yards after the catch. He gained 52 yards on three catches in that scoring drive, including the 28-yard touchdown pass that put the Seahawks up, 14-7.
But after that opening pick, Hasselbeck went 19 of 24 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. It was said that Deion Branch would be a big part of the gameplan this week, but he caught two balls for 13 yards. And after all the talk about his inability to master Seattle's offense early on, it doesn't do much for Branch that Houshmandzadeh has come in and immediately made significant contributions on and off the field. With Branch, the conversation might turn from productivity to sunk cost.
The Seahawks needed Hasselbeck to be sharp, because the rushing game issues continued. Both Julius Jones and Justin Forsett averaged 3.8 yards per carry, with longest runs of eight yards each. Through their first two games, the Seahawks were tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the lowest preseason yards-per-carry at 2.9, and the team's 2.8 YPC against the Chiefs won't help much at all.
Seattle's one of four teams – the Broncos, Chiefs, and Patriots being the others – who have not scored a rushing touchdown through three games. Newly signed running back Edgerrin James was seen warming up in uniform before the game, but was on the sidelines in civilian gear for the game, taking notes and getting the hang of his new offense.
On defense, the Seahawks caught a break when starter Matt Cassel left early with a leg injury, giving way to backup Tyler Thigpen. The team continued to provide excellent pass pressure continued, racking up four sacks for a preseason league-leading total of 12. Run defense was more of a problem, as Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles benefitted from Seattle's sloppy tackling to break long runs. Still, when it counted, the Seahawks were able to stop the Kansas City offense – the Chiefs were one-for-10 on third-down conversions and zero-for-two in the red zone.
Two backups starred in the second half – linebacker Will Herring had a sack and the interception of third-string quarterback Matt Gutierrez that ended the game. End Nick Reed sacked Gutierrez on the play before Herring's pick, and his pressure in flushing Gutierrez out of the pocket led to the errant throw in Herring's direction. Reed has been the star of this preseason, and if he doesn't make the final cut, it certainly won't be for lack of trying.
First roster cuts come on Tuesday, and the Seahawks play their final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at Qwest Field on Thursday, September 3.
Doug Farrar is the Publisher of NorthwestFootball.net. He's also a Staff Writer for Football Outsiders and an NFL Columnist for the Washington Post. You can e-mail Doug here.