BY Art Thiel 11:07PM 08/24/2018

Thiel: A loss, but Seahawks’ small deeds add up

An actual rushing touchdown by a Seahawks running back, plus some foot feats by Michael Dickson and Sebastian Janikowski, made tolerable a road loss to the Vikings.

Pete Carroll saw a running game he liked Saturday in Minneapolis. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Tell a non-Seattle fan that you were agog at a six-yard rushing touchdown, a kicker and punter, and you will be called a football dweeb and told to freshen everyone’s drinks and see when the nachos will be ready.

These are the insults that must be endured as the Seahawks raise themselves from a collective beak-plant in 2017. Prepare for additional snickers over the 0-3 exhibition record in 2018, but if you get mad about that, it’s on you. No one can help you.

The Seahawks lost 21-20 (box) in Minneapolis Friday night to a Vikings team that reached the NFC Championship in January. But Chris Carson scored through a large hole untouched, equaling the past season’s 16-game total of rushing TDs by backs. Sebastian Janikowski waddled up to a 55-yard field goal attempt and smashed it. And Michael Dickson did the dweebiest thing of all — made a football town giggly over a punter again, this time without need for Jon Ryan’s jokes.

Beyond the moments, the collective 102 yards in 24 rushes against last season’s top-ranked defense — only five yards belonging to QB Russell Wilson — was the signal accomplishment of the exercise. The worst deed was a 97-yard Vikings touchdown march that took 13 plays and more than seven minutes against Seattle’s first-team defense.

“Our biggest problem was not getting off the field on third down in the first half,” he said. “That was a big deal.”

Behind QB Kirk Cousins, he of the precedent-setting $84 million contract that was all guaranteed, Minnesota converted five of its first six third downs. The Seattle defense was missing not only Earl Thomas but Bradley McDougald (pec strain) and Byron Maxwell (hip flexor), and had a hard time applying pressure. Seattle stayed close primarily through luck — rookie PK Daniel Carlson missed two easy field goals, and the Vikings also were thwarted on a two-point conversion attempt.

The Seahawks answered the long TD drive with one of their own, a 75-yarder that featured the best example in the preseason of Carroll’s lust for a run-pass balance. Most notably, 34-year-old WR Brandon Marshall caught three passes (five, nine and 20 yards), and Carson and RB Mike Davis had four runs for a combined 26 yards.

The runs came on trap plays and straight-up power that looked like how a pro team is supposed to look, especially in the red zone where Seattle staggered in two previous games.

“There was a flow to the offense,” Carroll said. “We ran the ball very well on that drive.  Chris looked good. Guys up front made some really nice holes.

“It was pretty clean. We felt the line of scrimmage in all three games. Tonight felt like we had some crispness to us. The backs hit the line pretty good. It feels like we’re going in the right direction.”

The drama at right tackle lessened a bit when starter Germain Ifedi avoided errors, while new backup George Fant looked a little unsteady.

Dickson showed in a game what had been observed in practice — an ability to weaponize the punt. He boomed two that skied beyond 55 yards, each going out of bounds inside the five.

His longest, 61 yards, was returnable because he out-kicked a messed-up coverage. But he made the tackle on the returner. For the evening, he averaged 53.6 yards on five punts.

“He did a beautiful job,” Carroll said. “Couldn’t be better.”

Seattle’s other touchdown came off a fine throw by third-string rookie QB Alex McGough to second WR David Moore, who’s getting close to being Mr. Camp Breakout. The pass went 36 yards, the final dozen after Moore pivoted out of the grasp of his defender and soloed down the sideline.

After the Vikings were held on their next possession, Moore took back the punt 75 yards for an apparent touchdown, only to have it wiped away by a holding penalty. Subbing for Tyler Lockett, who was held out as an injury precaution, Moore in his PR debut had three other returns that counted, for 24 yards.

“We’ve been thinking the whole time when David gets his hands on the ball, he can do something special,” Carroll said. “The punt return looked easy for him. He slid right through.

“He showed us again the dynamic player that he is. He’s had a fantastic preseason. We’re fired up about him.”

Carroll was also pleased that after giving up the 97-yard drive, the Seahawks throttled the Vikings on the ground. For the game, they had 58 yards in 24 carries.

“The Vikings are dedicated to running the football,” he said. “Our guys held up really well. Because of our respect for Minnesota, we take a lot out of this.

“I really liked the way we played tonight. I thought we gained a lot of ground in areas that were important to us.”

Just not a victory. Perhaps that will come Thursday at home against Oakland in the fake finale. By then you will have attended to the drinks and nachos.

 


YourThoughts

  • ll9956

    The 97-yard drive the D gave up indicates the need for significant improvement. Notably, as you pointed out, Art, things got somewhat better as the game wore on. The eternal penalty disasters are killing the Hawks (seven for 47 yards) compared to one measly penalty for 5 yards by Minnesota. It’s easy to pass it off now, but when the season starts and Seahawk TDs and long gains start getting called back, there will be much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.

    • John M

      The so-called holding during Moore’s TD run was noted as “very questionable” even by the announcers. The 1’s had some sync problems in the first quarter, but compared to the previous two games, I think they did very well without their full set of DB’s. The O-line showed real promise, but it will take a couple real games to get a read. McGough continues to impress . . .

      • art thiel

        Also, no Baldwin, Lockett, Dickson or Penny on the offense.

    • art thiel

      New coaches, new players, changed systems. Some gear-grinding is predictable.

  • Ron

    Dickson and Green are looking like great draft picks.

  • Chris Alexander

    The 97-yard drive against the #1s was indeed frustrating, but let’s not forget that it takes time for players to gel (we’re minus Sherman, Chancellor, Bennett, and Avril from last year) and 3 of the presumed starters (Thomas, MacDougald, and Maxwell) didn’t play. I don’t know that I would read too much into that – especially in a preseason game.

    • art thiel

      Numerous newbies can lead to third-down mayhem.

  • 1coolguy

    Janikowsk is a great pickup, about time JS found a good player that will work out for us. I just hope as big as he is, the trainer can get him in great shape to last a few seasons. The guy is an excellent kicker and I am excited for him to win a few games for us. The kicking game was surreal – Dickson is perhaps our best pick in years, as he has “weaponized” the punting game and will be with us for many years – not something a 5th round pick typically does. He will change the nature of games and will help the defense greatly, putting the opposition in poo field position throughout the game.
    Of course, give Russ a few good receivers, some time and a decent running game and he will be lights out. FINALLY he has a skilled, big receiver in Marshall (why has it taken this long to find a big receiver who can run routes and has hands???).
    I am very excited for this season, with what I saw – if Thomas gets a reality check and comes back – we should be battling with the Rams for the Division.

    • art thiel

      Coolguy is on blast. Look at you, all slobbery grins.

      • 1coolguy

        Huh?

  • Centiorari

    Nice Article, plenty to be positive about last game. Best yet, no major injuries on starters.

  • Effzee

    Boy howdy, that Dickson sure is a fancy ball kicker! Only problem I can see is if the defense gives up 97 yard drives all year, it would probably have been worth keeping Ryan or someone else and using that 5th round pick on more young defensive depth. What good is pinning the other team at the 3 yard line if the defense can’t take advantage? All those long drives do is tire out the defense and leave the offense on the bench. I hope Pete and John going for the shiny thing yet again doesn’t turn out to bite them in the butt.