DANNY ONEIL

Seahawks score 3 late TDs to beat Raiders 23-21 in preseason finale

Sep 1, 2016, 10:19 PM | Updated: Sep 2, 2016, 4:13 pm
Alex Collins rushed for the Seahawks' final touchdown in their 23-21 preseason victory. (AP)...
Alex Collins rushed for the Seahawks' final touchdown in their 23-21 preseason victory. (AP)
(AP)

OAKLAND, Calif. – It was a thrilling contest – suspenseful, entertaining and even a little bit controversial.

But enough about the halftime “Wiener Dog Races” at the Oakland Coliseum, though they did spur as much excitement as Seattle’s 23-21 victory over the Raiders. The Seahawks’ preseason finale wasn’t nearly as exciting as the score makes it sound, though Seattle did score three touchdowns in the final 11 minutes.

There were 13 punts through the first three quarters, and Seattle crossed midfield only twice in that time. For the record, “Cliff Branch” won the title of the fastest wiener dog in Northern California. He wore a yellow jersey and he may have gotten away with a false start in the final.

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As for the game, well, the only points of the first half weren’t scored so much as they were conceded. Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was penalized for intentional grounding from his own end zone with 4:48 left in the second quarter after he threw the ball to no one to avoid an imminent sack.

Yes, it was that kind of game. Russell Wilson left after the first quarter, the Raiders didn’t play their starters at all and the most significant news was that running back Thomas Rawls made his preseason debut, carrying twice as he completed his comeback from that brutal ankle injury he suffered last December in Baltimore.

Seattle came back to win with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, one on an interception return by defensive end Ryan Robinson and then on Troymaine Pope’s 5-yard run with 5:14 left.

That was just a prelude to a sprint to the finish. Oakland scored a touchdown with just over 2 minutes left and had a chance to tie the score 16-16 until linebacker Eric Pinkins snuffed out the Raiders’ two-point conversion by tackling quarterback Connor Cook as he tried to run it in.

Seattle scored on its ensuing possession – a 1-yard run by Alex Collins – only to give up a touchdown on the kickoff return. Seattle recovered the ensuing kick and ran out the clock.

That at least added some pepper to a game that was oh-so-bland for most of the first three quarters. Seattle crossed midfield only once in the first half and never got closer than Oakland’s 36. The Seahawks didn’t cross midfield again until halfway through the third quarter when Pope ran back a kickoff 60 yards to do the heavy lifting of a field-goal drive that made it 5-3. That’s right, 5-3 as a third-quarter field goal was tacked onto that first-half safety.

Sebastian Janikowski added a 45-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for insurance runs … errr … points. That wasn’t enough, though, as it turned out Seattle’s best offense came from its defense as Pinkins came unblocked, forcing Cook into a decision that was both quick and bad. Looking for Johnny Holton, Cook threw the ball directly to Robinson, who returned the interception 42 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Pope tacked on a 5-yard run just over 5 minutes later on a drive that featured fellow rookie Collins carrying three times for 31 yards.

Biggest takeaway: Let’s go ahead and stop with the comparisons to Seattle’s 2013 team. That team was significantly deeper, and while it’s stupid to read too much into preseason results, the fact that those Seahawks were 4-0 in August and outscored opponents 110-36 in the preseason turned out to be pretty telling. The Seahawks might be as talented, but they’re not as deep, which became evident. Pass protection was an oxymoron for Seattle’s second-string offensive line, which gave up three second-quarter sacks in addition to the safety forced by Oakland’s pass rush.

Passing grades: The most accurate grade: incomplete. That was the result of two of Wilson’s three passes while Oakland starter Derek Carr did not play. Wilson’s one completion went to tight end Luke Willson for a gain of 23 yards. Boykin entered the game for Seattle’s second series and completed four of his first six passes for 44 yards after entering the game. Meanwhile, Oakland started some guy named Matt McGloin, who was 4-for-6 passing for 37 yards and also had a 13-yard rush.

On the frontlines: How did Seattle’s starters fare against Oakland’s first team? They didn’t. Oakland didn’t play its starters on either side of the ball. The Seahawks’ first-unit defense forced a three-and-out on Oakland’s first series. Strong safety Kam Chancellor was Seattle’s only defensive starter on the field for the second series.

Rookie watch: RB C.J. Prosise made a great tackle. Yeah. You read that right. He was the first Seahawk downfield after Jon Ryan’s second punt in the first quarter. Prosise made a great play to tackle DeAndre Washington. Pope returned a third-quarter kickoff 60 yards to jump start Seattle’s first scoring drive and he scored the Seahawks’ first offensive touchdown on a 5-yard run with 5:15 left. Collins’ first four carries totaled 6 yards, bringing his preseason totals to 43 yards on 16 carries, an average of 2.7 yards per carry. His next carry went for 20 yards followed by a gain of 9. There were three rookies on Seattle’s second-string offensive line with Joey Hunt playing center, Rees Odhiambo at left guard and George Fant at left tackle.

Absences: DT Jarran Reed (toe), WR Kasen Williams (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (knee), TE Nick Vannett (ankle), DL Michael Bennett (toe).

Rawls to the wall: Rawls played for the first time since suffering a season-ending ankle injury last December. He replaced Christine Michael for the second series, carrying on back-to-back plays. Rawls lost a yard on his first carry and gained 8 on his second carry.

Sibling safeties: Chancellor was the only Seahawks starter on the field for Seattle’s second defensive possession. That gave him a chance to line up alongside his half brother, Keenan Lambert. The two grew up in the same house in Virginia, and while Lambert was with the Seahawks during training camp a year ago, Chancellor was holding out. Thursday was the first time the two played alongside each other on defense.

Musical chairs … err … right tackles: Garry Gilliam started at right tackle and was replaced by J’Marcus Webb for the second series when the rest of Seattle’s starting offensive line remained on the field. The two alternated possessions for the rest of the first half and through most of the third quarter.

Sad-sack situation: The Seahawks starting offensive line didn’t give up a sack, but the second-stringers started leaking in the second quarter. First came back-to-back sacks of Boykin on one possession. Then came a safety on a subsequent possession when Boykin was penalized for intentional grounding while in the end zone with Oakland rookie James Cowser bearing down on him.

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