By Danny O’Neil
Jermaine Kearse didn’t necessarily expect to be returning kickoffs for the Seahawks, but he didn’t doubt what would happen if he got the chance.
At least not the way he was talking to quarterback Russell Wilson.
“He told me a couple of weeks ago, he’s like ‘Man, Russell, I get a chance on a kickoff return, I’m going to take it back,’ ” Wilson recounted.
Jermaine Kearse added to what has been an outstanding preseason with a pair of touchdowns Saturday night, one coming on a 107-yard kickoff return. (AP) | More photos
Did he ever. Kearse fielded Denver’s first kickoff of the game and ran it back 107 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the first quarter. It was the turning point in Seattle’s 40-10 victory over Denver in Saturday’s preseason game, the first of 30 consecutive points scored by the Seahawks.
Consider it one more surprise for the player who is Seattle’s biggest breakout success of the preseason. He entered the year as a strong candidate to make the team given his role on special teams, and the question isn’t whether he’ll have a spot on the roster but if he can have an impact as a receiver and returner with Percy Harvin out to begin the year.
Kearse caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on the Seahawks’ first possession, his second touchdown catch of the preseason. Then came the opportunity to return kickoffs, which was presented to him earlier this week.
“I never thought I would be doing kickoff return,” Kearse said. “But when they asked me this week, I wasn’t going to turn it down.”
He ran headlong into the opportunity, bringing the ball deep out of the end zone and then breaking to a huge hole on the left.
“I didn’t realize how deep I was,” Kearse said. “I took one step and I just said, ‘Whatever, I’m just going to come out with it.’ “
Passing a test
Seattle’s first-string offense failed to cross midfield in the two possessions it played in last week’s preseason opener at San Diego.
The Seahawks scored on their first two possessions against Denver.
“It felt like we were doing things like we’d like to do it,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Well, maybe not exactly like they’d like as the Seahawks were penalized twice on their first possession of the game, and had to overcome a botched exchange between center Max Unger and Wilson for their first touchdown as Wilson scooped up the ball and didn’t have a chance to see how Kearse got so wide open in the end zone.
“Too busy being a shortstop, trying to pick up the ball,” Wilson said, “but I knew he was open. He does it all the time in practice. He runs unbelievable routes.”
Running in place
For the second straight week, a rookie led Seattle in rushing. This time, it was Spencer Ware, the sixth-round pick from LSU who gained 54 yards on nine carries, including a 20-yard run. Christine Michael – who gained 89 yards last week in San Diego – sat out the game after suffering back spasms during the week.
Starter Marshawn Lynch carried the ball twice – which is two more rushes than he had last week in San Diego – but is still getting up to speed, according to his coach.
“I think Marshawn has a lot of work to do,” Carroll said, tongue firmly planted in his cheek. “Two carries for a yard. That’s not the regular Marshawn we’re counting on.”
Seattle was penalized 12 times in the game, six in each half in what made for a consistently frustrating game.
“They’re scattered,” Carroll said. “We didn’t have error repeaters tonight. We had a bunch of guys that contributed. We just have to get better there. It’s lousy to play football like that. I didn’t like it at all.”
Williams soars and scores
Tough to top Stephen Williams’ preseason debut when he caught two passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, but darned if he didn’t come close when he scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Tarvaris Jackson in the third quarter. He even added a stylish finish as he dove to make the catch, realized he hadn’t been touched by an opponent and got up to lunge into the end zone.
“It didn’t feel like they touched me,” Williams said. “I just wanted to make it instead of leaving doubts or anything.”
Williams caught two passes for 45 yards.
• Seattle appeared to suffer only one injury in the game: WR Phil Bates sprained his ankle and wore a plastic protective boot as he left the locker room.
• Seattle forced four turnovers from Denver and the Seahawks have yet to commit a turnover themselves this preseason.
• Broncos DE Derek Wolfe, who was injured in the first quarter Saturday, was evaluated for a spinal injury, but was found to be OK and returned with the team to Colorado.