OAKLAND, Calif. – The best thing about Seattle’s preseason finale: it’s over.
And even that took some doing given a two-hour first half in which the Raiders’ offense left blisters on Seattle’s backside.
Yes, the Raiders. The team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2002 and the team that Seattle had beaten in the preseason finale each of the previous three years by a combined total of 63-12.
Well, that team beat the Seahawks 41-31 Thursday night after Oakland quarterback Derek Carr – a rookie, no less – threw for four touchdowns in the first half. Three of those scores came during a span of 2 minutes, 22 seconds in the first quarter.
And yes, it really was that bad. The Seahawks fumbled away a kickoff in that span, they allowed a punt return of 45 yards and instead of standing up, their defense allowed two straight one-play touchdown drives.
Seattle had allowed 20 points total over its previous two exhibition games. The Raiders scored 21 in the first quarter. The Seahawks had never allowed more than 24 points in a preseason game under coach Pete Carroll. They surrendered 35 in the first half. Jon Ryan had punted four times in the first three preseason games combined. He had four in the first half alone.
But let’s not get too dramatic about all this. It’s the preseason, after all. This isn’t the kind of loss that sticks with you. Not with Seattle’s regular-season opener against Green Bay just a week away.
This is the kind of game where you take a look at Seattle’s first-unit offense and see that it scored on a four-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in which Russell Wilson was a perfect 3-for-3 passing, including a 25-yard strike to Luke Willson for the touchdown. Then, check to see if any starting members of Seattle’s defense were injured in this game, see they weren’t and proceed to the opener.
That’s not to say the game was meaningless. Not for someone like receiver Phil Bates, whose bid to make the Seahawks’ 53-man roster was helped by a 33-yard touchdown reception. Or defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who had a great spin move for a third-quarter sack.
The result didn’t mean much. Not with Wilson playing only a series and Seattle scratching defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel from the starting lineup. Seattle’s starting cornerbacks were out of the game after the first score, too.
The Seahawks did rally, cornerback DeShawn Shead returning an interception 54 yards for a touchdown after it was tipped by teammate Phillip Adams, and after a fourth-quarter field goal, the Seahawks cut the game to a single score on Bryan Walters’ 7-yard touchdown catch from B.J. Daniels with 4:30 left.
The loss the Seahawks will be most worried about didn’t occur on the scoreboard but on their depth chart. Rookie defensive lineman Cassius Marsh, a standout this preseason, left the game with a hip injury while rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis suffered a hamstring injury.