DANNY ONEIL

Hail Mary lifts Seahawks to 17-16 preseason win over Chiefs

Aug 13, 2016, 5:06 PM | Updated: 6:45 pm
Tanner McEvoy hauled in Trevone Boykin's Hail Mary pass for the winning touchdown on Saturday. (AP)...
Tanner McEvoy hauled in Trevone Boykin's Hail Mary pass for the winning touchdown on Saturday. (AP)
(AP)

KANSAS CITY – The Seahawks celebrated a victory that was as improbable as almost any victory outside Seattle’s comeback against Green Bay in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

A three-quarters empty Arrowhead Stadium was the only clue that while the win was improbable, it may not have been all that important.

Wait. That’s not quite right. It was incredibly important to backup quarterback Trevone Boykin, who re-entered the game in the fourth quarter and led the Seahawks first to a field goal and then to the game-winning touchdown, which was scored with no time remaining as Seattle snatched a 17-16 victory in its preseason opener.

O’Neil: Christine Michael takes big step | Photo gallery | Boxscore

Four passes. That’s all Boykin needed to drive Seattle 88 yards in the final 1:07 of the game. More than a yard per second, culminating with Tanner McEvoy’s 37-yard touchdown catch on a jump ball with no time remaining. It was Seattle’s only touchdown of the game, and they opted to go for 2 to make sure the game ended then and there. After a penalty against Kansas City for having 12 men on the field, Boykin handed off to rookie running back Troymaine Pope, who scored the game-winning two-point conversion.

So Seattle’s backup quarterback was the miracle worker this time, the Seahawks’ first-team defense allowed the only touchdown of the first 59 minutes of the game and running back Christine Michael looked like the single best player on the field when the Seahawks began their preseason schedule at Kansas City.

That’s the operative word: preseason.

Let’s not jump to too many conclusions after Russell Wilson got Seattle close on the opening drive before he was picked off by ex-UW Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters trying to force a throw late to another former Husky, Jermaine Kearse. Wilson had guided Seattle to the Kansas City 14 on that drive, which turned out to be his only possession in the game.

Wilson was then replaced by backup Boykin, who was absolutely adequate in his NFL preseason debut. In fact, the undrafted rookie from TCU got better as the game progressed and Pete Carroll put him back into the game in the fourth quarter to give him a chance to come back. He did just that, completing his final four passes of the game to finish 16-for-26 passing for 188 yards while also rushing for 21 yards.

As for the biggest question facing Seattle this season: Its offensive line – the subject of much hand-wringing over the past five months – was relatively inconspicuous in Kansas City. Given the depth of worry about that group, that counts as a good thing.

Biggest takeaway: Michael looked absolutely fantastic, and not just because he carried the ball seven times for 44 yards. He was committed to the scheme, running off the hips of his linemen and finding those creases that are the key to Seattle’s zone-blocking scheme. Four of Michael’s seven carries gained 8 yards or more.

Passing grades: Wilson’s 2016 preseason debut was most notable because he matched his interception total from the final seven regular-season games last year. In other words: he was picked off once. It was an uncharacteristic mistake from Wilson, who had Kearse open in the end zone but waited too long to throw. Wilson was on the move and Peters had time to break in front of Kearse to pick off the pass and end Wilson’s only series under center. The Seahawks started Boykin slow, having him hand off his first four plays. Boykin completed just one pass on his first possession, but improved from there and peaked at the end. He led Seattle on two fourth-quarter scoring drives, including the four passes he completed for 88 yards on Seattle’s final drive. He led Seattle on three field-goal drives and, most importantly, did not fumble and was not intercepted. Jake Heaps played several series in the second half, completing three passes on 10 attempts before Boykin returned to finish the game.

On the frontlines: Each starting quarterback played a single possession, making it tough to draw too many conclusions. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on their opening possession after Alex Smith scrambled to extend a play. The Seahawks failed to score on their opening possession after Wilson was picked off as he threw on the run while scrambling. Seattle’s starting defense played two series, allowing two runs of more than nine yards.

Rookie watch: S Tyvis Powell intercepted a tipped pass with 9:53 left in the game. Powell also had a crushing block on a first-half punt return and nearly saved a touchback in the third quarter. RG Germain Ifedi was called for a holding penalty in the second quarter. WR Kenny Lawler caught two passes, including a 12-yarder for a first down in the final 2 minutes of the first half. Rees Odhiambo entered the game in the second quarter at left guard. Joey Hunt was Seattle’s No. 3 center Saturday, entering at the end of the third quarter after Justin Britt and Patrick Lewis had already played. RB Alex Collins carried three times for a ho-hum five yards, but also caught a pass. RBs Zac Brooks and C.J. Prosise did not play in the game, each having missed more than a week because of sore hamstrings.

Injuries: Seahawks CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste suffered an arm injury in the fourth quarter. Chiefs LB D.J. Alexander suffered a rib injury when Powell crushed him with a block on a first-half punt return.

Absences: Defensive starters Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett did not play for Seattle. Tight end Jimmy Graham did not travel with the team.

Strong-side audition: Mike Morgan started at strongside linebacker for the Seahawks, and Eric Pinkins filled that spot with the second-team defense. It appeared Pinkins got caught nosing inside on a second-quarter running play, and he was also juked on a second-quarter punt return. Cassius Marsh was at defensive end and nickel pass rush in this game.

Corner-ing the market: Jeremy Lane started at right cornerback for Seattle with DeShawn Shead entering in the first-team nickel defense.

Let’s be Frank: Frank Clark was penalized for his hit on third-string Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray on what would have been the last play of the first half. Bray – who had just released the ball – was “forcibly driven to the ground” by Clark, according to the official. Why is that a bad thing? The result was a 15-yard penalty and an untimed down on which the Chiefs failed to score. In the second half, Clark once again reminded everyone how dominant he is against an opponent’s JV offensive line.

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