Washington, Defense lead Hawks over ChargersBy Anton at September 26th, 2010.
The Seattle Seahawks were saved Sunday by a Pro-Bowl kick return specialist traded by the New York Jets following last season after breaking his leg.
After missing a myriad of opportunities to bury the San Diego Chargers in the first half, the Hawks’ Leon Washington received the opening kick-off of the second half and returned it 101-yards for a touchdown. Then, with 6:39 remaining in the game, after the Chargers tied the game at 20 with prolific quarterback Phil Rivers leading the charge, Washington received the subsequent kick-off at the one yard line, busted through one tackle, avoided two others, and sprinted for his second touchdown of the half, leading the Hawks to a 27-20 victory in front of 67,000 frenzied fans at Qwest Field.
Even with Washington’s exploits, the Hawks still had to brace for two more Chargers’ drives to end the game.
After Washington’s touchdown, Rivers methodically led the Chargers down the field hitting his big, versatile targets along the way. However, Rivers’ fourth down pass into the end zone was broken up by rookie Roy Lewis. Then, following a Jon Ryan punt, Rivers put the pressure on again but on fourth down, the drive ended in the red zone when safety Earl Thomas picked-off Rivers for the second time in the game, preserving the win and putting the Hawks atop the NFC West.
The Hawks defense played spectacularly in the first half. Defensive end Chris Clemmons and tackles Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the Chargers high-powered offense scoreless. Clemmons used his speed and veteran guile to sack Rivers (one in the first half, another in the second) and Mebane used brute force up the middle to do the same. Bryant recovered an early Chargers fumble forced by linebacker Lofa Tatupu and the defense set the tone, allowing for an inconsistent offense to build a 10-0 halftime lead.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawks got on the board first following an eighty-yard drive highlighted by a 28-yard scamper from Justin Forsett and 37-yard pass down the seam to tight end John Carlson. However, the drive stalled and Olindo Mare was forced to come on the field to kick a 23-yard field goal. The disappointing finish to the drive was typical of the Hawks anemic offense. The Chargers turned the ball over three times in the first half but the Hawks failed to convert the turnovers into any points.
The special teams play – obviously highlighted by Washington’s return touchdowns – outplayed the Chargers special teams throughout the game. Cam Chancellor forced a fumbled on coverage, the return units opened holes for Washington and punt returner Golden Tate, and the Chargers return game was stymied throughout by aggressive.
The win puts the Hawks at 2-1 on the season and after three weeks, gives the Hawks the top spot in the NFC West – a weak division in disarray.
Rivers finished the game 29-53 for 455 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hasselbeck finished 19-32 for 220 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
For complete game statistics, visit nfl.com
‘tweet’ thoughts – Many fans had a terrible morning trying to get to Qwest Field…Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nat McMillan hoisted the ‘12th Man’ flag before kick off…CBS’s Dan Fouts used the word ‘misconnected’ in the first half trying to explain an incompletion between the Hawks Matt Hasselbeck and Carlson…Cornerback Marcus Trufant left the game with an ankle injury…Running back Julie Jones did not step on the field for the Hawks…Tate, once again, showed flashes of brilliance returning punts…The Seahawks had one first down in the second half.