By Sam Smith
Seattle (0-2, Preseason, 0-0 Regular Season) loses to Kansas City (2-0, Preseason, 0-0 Regular Season)
Seattle loses their first road game of the preseason as they fall to the Kansas City Chiefs, 14-13. The starters for both teams played the entire first half of the game, though notably, a total of 11 Defensive Backs were out for Seattle due to injuries/holdouts. The offensive line was shifted all around, and it seemed to be a working fit, as Russell Wilson didn’t get sacked like he did in the first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. It was obvious that with the starting lineups for both teams playing that the game would be low scoring. The ‘Hawks went three and out on the first series. The Chiefs couldn’t get much going either, as CB Deshawn Shead broke up a pair of long passes, one of them against newcomer WR on the Chiefs by the name of Jeremy Maclin.
If you had any questions about the blocking abilities of Jimmy Graham, fear not- he’s more than adequate at that job. Going 3/3 and almost 40 yds. of clutch catches proves that the Wilson-Graham connection is alive and well. He would get a holding call to the tune of 10 penalty yards, but redeemed himself moments later with a 21 yarder, in coverage. Michael Bennett was making his presence felt, notching a couple of good tackles on KC RB Jamaal Charles, but also receiving a roughing the passer call for a late hit on KC QB Alex Smith. Kansas City utilized backup RB Kniles Davis for chunk yardage gain, and relegated Charles for catching short lob passes. Speaking of Smith, Seattle’s own Frank Clark almost made an interception jumping up to block a pass from Smith downfield. Clark tipped the ball, but Jamaal Charles recovered before Michael Bennett tackled him again.
Wilson showed some extra gears, spinning out of the pocket when coverage broke down, running for a gain of a couple yards. Both Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett reeled in passes to give Seattle first downs, with Baldwin racking up 20 yards on a toss. Lockett didn’t notch any punt or kickoff return touchdowns this week, but he definitely made a showing for his hometown crowd.
The Touchdown drought experienced by KC wide receivers ended with Jeremy Maclin’s 3 yd. reception from Alex Smith in the 2nd quarter. The drive was set up by KC TE Travis Kelce’s 23 yard completion, and Alex Smith’s 3 yard run to the sideline a couple plays earlier.
Seattle’s RB Christine Michael came in to replace RB Robert Turbin, who through the first half had four carries, for four yards total. Michael tallied 21 yards on his first three carries. This bliss was short lived, as Michael got extremely lucky with what could have been a fumble, but he was ruled down by contact. The ‘Hawks just couldn’t make the use of their starters and overcoming some penalties. Baldwin, like Jermaine Kearse, had some dropped passes. Hauschka lined up for a 39 yd. FG attempt, which was good. KC 7, SEA 3.
Kansas City was not able to retain a lot of return yards, which put their QB in a bind. He paid for this, underthrowing a wide receiver, and getting picked off by Seattle’s Bobby Wagner for a 25 yard run uncontested to score on a pick six. SEA 10, KC, 7. After the free kick is good, we see shimmers of the same Seattle team that scored twice with the odds stacked against them in the 2014 NFC championship game. This team scored 10 points in just a little over 14 seconds.
Seattle’s defense even with moving pieces notched plenty of tackles. DE Michael Bennett and DT Brandon Mebane garnered sacks on KC QB Alex Smith throughout the first half. Safety stand in Deon Bailey made his presence felt, opting to grab whatever he could, whether that be an ankle or a set of pads to make tackles. Seattle would hold onto the lead through the end of the first half.
It was in the third quarter where some pieces of the puzzle began to fall out of place. Kansas City had no problem winning coaches challenges, or penalty calls, as Seattle had roughing the passer and false starts called on them. DT D’Anthony Smith and CB Deshawn Shead both played big roles in stopping a goal line plunge, but the second string QB for Kansas City just tossed the ball in anyways. KC 14, SEA 10 at just over 4 minutes completed in the 3rd quarter.
Offensively, the backups for Seattle came out swinging again, but were hampered by tripping over their own players, RB Robert Turbin with minimal yardage, and incompletions. Not to mention WR BJ Daniels completely miffing on a return catch. No aspect of the run game was formidable enough to give Seattle the go ahead score even in the Red Zone, and Hauschka again came out to do the dirty work. He would be successful on a 27 yarder, KC 14, SEA 13. Seattle would be the recipient of another roughing the passer call, to the tune of 15 yards. When RB Rod Smith needed to convert on 4th and 4, he was unable to, and Seattle had their first turnover of the night. Third string QB R.J. Archer would be plagued by dropped passes, a low snap, and incomplete attempts for the rest of the night. He would be sacked with less than 16 seconds to go, and be unable to call another play, before the game’s end.
Defensively, DE Cassius Marsh and G Kristjan Sokoli both played complimentary roles on each side of the ball. Marsh had a nice stop on 4th and 1, arching his entire body back to prevent a 1st down completion, and again in the 4th quarter by invoking negative yards on a Kansas City RB. Great hustle, Cassius! LB Brock Coyle had no difficulty breaking up a pass intended for Kansas City wide receivers. OLB Mike Morgan and DE Julius Warmsley got another sack on the third string QB for Kansas City. KJ Wright and Kevin Pierre Louis had six tackles apiece.
Though Seattle narrowly lost, they did so only by 1 point, and the backup defensive players and those fighting for roster spots proved once again that they have what it takes to knuckle down against menacing o-lines. Head coach Pete Caroll was 50% for coach’s challenges, winning one and losing one. Penalties ruined the ‘Hawks progress, having 11 penalties for over 100 yards against them Tyler Lockett proved he’s capable of far more than just returning punts and kicks, and Jimmy Graham looked like he could cut through coverage like a hot knife through butter. Marshawn Lynch was absent, but it’s looking more and more that Christine Michael is the backup. I would count on Turbin being given an ultimatum, as his playing ability is still not where Seattle needs it to be. Next week, on the San Diego to play the Chargers, who are 1-0 in the preseason with a win against Dallas. The Chargers face the Cardinals this evening at 7:00 PM PDT. Go Hawks!