Pete Carroll gave an apt postgame summation of the Seahawks’ first exhibition game as Super Bowl champions, lost 21-16 at Denver while playing without three starters on the offensive line — and with quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor running for their personal well-being far too often.
“We’re just surviving. We’re really surviving right now,” Carroll said of an offensive line that was without center Max Unger because he has a new groin injury, guard James Carpenter because he just got back from a calf injury and left tackle Russell Okung because he returned only Monday from toe surgery.
“We have guys on the second team that have been hereabout three or four days. We are just not very sharp right now, and unfortunately it showed.
“But we survived it, got through it.”
And they still had a prime chance to win and extend their string of consecutive preseason victories to 10.
Pryor made numerous plays that weren’t really there, escaping charging Broncos and running and throwing for first downs. He would have thrown for the go-ahead score on a called screen pass to Demitrious Bronson on second and goal from the 3 with 2:54 left. Pryor’s deft, flick throw while under heavy pressure into the right flat was a tad high, but was one Bronson should have caught.
“If he catches that, game over,” Pryor said, before taking responsibility as a quarterback should with, “but I should have thrown it better.”
On the next play, Pryor again darted away from pressure then threw from near the Seahawks’ sideline to the goal line for Ricardo Lockette. Three Broncos were surrounding Lockette, and the ball got tipped into the arms of linebacker Steven Johnson for the interception that essentially ended the game.
“Trying to make a play,” Pryor said, “but I have to be better.”
Carroll liked what he saw out of Pryor, who finished 9 for 16 for a game-high 137 yards passing. The former Ohio State star and Oakland Raiders starter for three seasons into 2013 also ran seven times, not by design but out of frantic necessity, for a team-high 28 yards.
“It was fun to see Terrelle Pryor for the first time,” Carroll said. “He was, obviously, all over the field, trying to create when we had troubles up front and he was compensating for that.
“We had a great drive to win the football game, Unfortunately we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to.”
Others who stood out in Carroll’s mind in the moments after this game:
–“Cassius Marsh caught my eye. He did a nice job,” the coach said of the rookie fourth-round draft choice from UCLA, who had four tackles and Seattle’s only sack.
–“I thought Tarvaris did a nice job playing,” Carroll said of Jackson, who was 5 for 6 on the final drive of the first half, which ended with the first of Steven Hauschka’s three field goals and a 10-7 lead for the Seahawks.
–“”Paul Richardson did a real nice great job for us. First time out, I love to see that,” Carroll said.
The second-round pick from Colorado had four catches on the five balls thrown to him, for 37 yards. But Richardson told me in the locker room that he has to clean up many assignment errors he made. The wide receiver said he wasn’t hearing the entire play calls, and thus missed blocking assignments outside on running plays. The facts Carroll praised his play and Richardson criticized the finer points of it is a good sign that Richardson is thinking the way coaches want rookies to in order to continually improve.
“Paul Richardson, he’s going to be special, I believe,” Pryor said.
Carroll bemoaned the 13 penalties the Seahawks committed, for 131 yards. Some were particularly damaging to the Seahawks’ mantra of winning everything, even practice games such as these. Here’s how Seattle allowed Peyton Manning and the Broncos to drive 61 yards in 14 plays for the exhbition’s first touchdown: Defensive end Michael Bennett jumped offsides turned a third and 9 into a easier third and 4 that Manning easily converted; then the Broncos were about to be called for holding that would have made it second and 11, but Bennett was called for slapping his hand to the head of an opposing lineman for offsetting fouls and a re-do; and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel jumped offsides to give Denver another first down by penalty on that same drive.
Seattle also had three personal fouls, including one on 2013 draft choice Tharold Simon for slapping the facemask of Denver’s Gerell Robinson after Denver’s third-quarter touchdown. Simon got thrown out of the game for that, a glaring negative to what had been a standout training camp for the cornerback who missed all last year with foot injuries.
“Really sloppy football game. When you have 25 penalties in a game it’s going to be kind of messy,” Carroll said. “I think that kind of shrouded the game a little bit, for both teams.”
Carroll didn’t cite NFL officials’ new emphasis on rules such as hands to the face and pass interference as the reason for Flag Night.
“One hands to face, which is a new emphasis. I just think it was, on our end of it, sloppy play,” Carroll said.
Of the three personal fouls the coach said: “It’s bad football. It’s bad football when we are doing that. … We’ve just got to get stuffed cleaned up.”
Overall Carroll gave this rather tepid assessment of the starters on offense and defense, who played about 20 plays and to a 7-7 draw with Denver into the second quarter: “I thought the ones did OK.”
It befit a rather tepid preseason debut.