Tarvaris Jackson, Sidney Rice and Darrell Bevell made sure every Minnesota Vikings fan knew what they lost this past off-season when those three joined the Seattle Seahawks. In a game that is sure to have hardcore Seahawks fans dreaming big, the Seahawks dominated in every aspect. Only time will tell how much of this game was pre-season mirage, how much of it was a potentially bad Vikings team, and how much of it was evidence of real strength developing in this 2011 Seahawks roster.
Jackson was sharp from the opening snap, leading the Seahawks all the way down the field before running in for a touchdown on a bootleg from the 7-yard line. The drive included Rice’s first gasp-inducing catch of his Seahawks career as he speared a ball four feet over his head for a 26-yard gain. Rice collected two other catches on the drive, and finished the night with five receptions for 76 yards in one half of work.
“It was a good way to start my career here,” Rice said. “The crowd was pretty jacked for a pre-season game, and Tarvaris was giving me a chance to make plays.”
Last year’s revelation at wide receiver, Mike Williams, had less success. Jackson only targeted Williams three times, and only one was caught.
“Sid and TJack know each other,” Williams explained. “I’ve got to figure out to get a little more action thrown my way.”
The passing attack was the flash, but the Seahawks running game proved plenty of dash. After rushing 43 times for 133 yards in the pre-season opener, Tom Cable and Bevell dialed up 45 more runs for 175 yards against the Vikings. Marshawn Lynch was especially effective, bashing his way to 43 yards on eight carries and a touchdown in the first half.
“We ain’t playin’ this year,” Lynch said. “We didn’t even have big 76 [LT Russell Okung] in there tonight. We’re going to mash people.”
The defense played a solid game after giving up a field goal on the first drive to the Donovan McNabb-led Vikings offense. McNabb looked sharp to start the game, completing 3-5 passes for 40 yards on the first drive, but only managed two more first downs after that drive in the first half. Seahawks safety Earl Thomas picked off his first pass of the pre-season after his secondary safety partner, Kam Chancellor laid a vicious hit on receiver Devin Aromashodu on a crossing route, popping the ball into the air for Thomas to pluck.
“I guess I got to play the Vikings every game,” Thomas said. “I picked off my first pass against them in pre-season last year, and I got another one tonight. I should probably give Kam half, but nah, I think I’ll take the whole thing.”
New cornerback Brandon Browner got the start with Kelly Jennings out due to injury, and put together another solid performance. He broke up one pass and made several strong plays against the run. Aaron Curry also stood out with two tackles for loss, and appears to be settling into his simplified role.
“Aaron really got me fired up with the way he played out there,” Head Coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s flying around and making plays. That’s what we need from him.”
Last week’s hero, quarterback Josh Portis, came back to Earth a bit with an interception and several ugly incompletions. He still flashed promising young talent with a few nice throws and an eye-popping 27-yard scramble.
Bubbling just beneath the game’s surface was the tension of two franchises and fan bases that lost key talent to one another. Much was made of Jackson and Rice’s first game against their old franchise, but Seahawks fans still hold a grudge about the departure of guard Steve Hutchinson.
“Tim Ruskell was a terrible and arrogant general manager for failing to franchise Hutch,” current GM John Schneider said. “But Steve still knowingly signed that offer sheet, so fans can’t forget that he’s a douche. At least it’s clear he’ll never win a Super Bowl on that sorry team now. We got Sidney! How you like us now, Stevie!?”
When the topic of Hutchinson came up, Cleveland President Mike Holmgren made a surprise appearance, materializing seemingly out of thin air.
“Did anyone say that was Ruskell’s fault yet?” Holmgren asked. “You did? Oh, well, that guy sucked. Make sure you write that. And tell Hutch, ‘I told you so.’ You don’t go against The Big Show. And I hope those great Seahawks fans don’t lose too much sleep over Colt McCoy’s success since you could have had him if you hadn’t traded your 3rd round pick for Charlie Whitehurst.”
With that, Holmgren vanished. It was an odd end to an eventful night for the home team. The team now looks ahead to the key third game of pre-season where starters will get their last extended play before the regular season.