Game at a glance

A recap of the Seahawks’ wild 27-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers at Qwest Field on Sunday:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Leon Washington. Yes, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 455 yards and displayed relentless resiliency as he repeatedly led his team back. But Washington had 253 yards returning kickoffs – including a 101-yarder in the third quarter to make it 17-0 and a 99-yarder in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner.

Bottom line: The Chargers did not win, despite everything Rivers was able to do; the Seahawks would not have won without everything that Washington was able to do.

“Boy, he was just magic out there today,” coach Pete Carroll said.

Washington, who was acquired in a draft day trade with the New York Jets and coming off a severely broken right leg that ended his 2009 season, became the first Seahawk to return two kickoffs for TDs in a game – not to mention the first to do it, period. That’s right. Eight others have returned one for a score, the last being Josh Wilson in 2007. But two? Washington is the first – in his third game with the team.

He also set marks for most yards gain in a game (231 by Maurice Morris in 2002 was the old mark); highest average in a game (63.3 yards, with the old mark 42.8 by Charlie Rogers in 2000); and longest scoring returns (the old mark being 97, set by James Jefferson in 1989 and tied by Morris in 2002).

Washington now has six in his career, which ties him for second in NFL history behind the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Cribbs (eight). Sharing second place with Washington are Ollie Matson, Gale Sayers, Travis Williams, Mel Gray and Dante Hall. Not bad company.

“I’m a strong man of faith,” Washington said. “My wife told me today I was going to have a good day. So I can’t wait to see her.”

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: Matt Hasselbeck’s 9-yard TD pass to John Carlson in the second quarter to make it 10-0. It was the Seahawks’ only offensive touchdown in a whacky game where the Chargers had the sizeable advantages in total yards (518-271), offensive plays (78-56), passing yards (455-220), average gain per play (6.6-4.8) and time of possession (36:04-23:56).

It also was the second-longest offensive TD of what was a long afternoon (3 hour, 26 minute game), as Rivers’ TD passes covered 3 and 12 yards.

Defense: Where to start? Defensive end Chris Clemons led an unrelenting pass rush with two sacks. Defensive end Red Bryant recovered two fumbles, which were forced by linebacker David Hawthorne and strong safety Lawyer Milloy. Nickel back Roy Lewis broke up two passes in the end zone in the final 2½ minutes.

The nod, however, goes to Earl Thomas, the rookie free safety who intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter. The first, on the Chargers’ third play of the quarter, led to a field goal and, as Carroll put it, “There’s only a few people in the world that can make that catch.”

But the second, which came with six seconds to play – and at the Seahawks’ 5-yard line – iced the victory.

“A lot of times I get in trouble for kind of jumping routes like that,” Thomas said. “But today it paid off for me.”

Special teams: Washington’s first TD return was longer (101 yards). But the second (a 99-yard yarder) was more significant; because it gave the Seahawks back the lead after the Chargers had scored a TD and two-point conversion to tie the score. It also came despite Washington seemingly being stopped a couple of times – and touched by four different Chargers – early in the return.

“I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this, they’re still kicking to me,’ ” Washington said when asked about his mindset as he was awaiting that kickoff.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Pre-game: There was the raising of the 12th Man Flag by Nate McMillan, the iconic player and coach of the Sonics and now coach of the Portland Trail Blazer. But before that, Carroll was standing near midfield all by himself. The rare moment of game-day solitude didn’t last long, as he was quickly engaged in an animated exchange with team owner Paul Allen.

In-game: Just after the 12th Man crowd helped generate the second of back-to-back false start penalties on the Chargers’ next-to-last possession, turning a first-and-10 from the Seahawks’ 14-yard line into a first-and-20 from the 24, Carroll turned to the crowd in the south end zone and saluted them with a raised fist.

Post-game: Surrounded by reporters in the locker room, Washington cracked a smile before emphatically stressing, “Please give credit to those guys in front of me. I don’t want to see anything in the paper about Leon. Those guys did a heckuva job up front and I have total faith in them. When I have faith in them I can run hard and make plays.”

INJURY REPORT

The Seahawks’ bend-but-don’t-break defensive heroics in the final six minutes came with cornerback Marcus Trufant (ankle), defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) and linebacker Aaron Curry (hamstring) out of the game.

“It’s not about who you lose, it’s about who’s stepping up,” Carroll said.

Today, that was rookie Walter Thurmond stepping in for Trufant, Junior Siavii and Kentwan Balmer subbing for Mebane and Will Herring taking over for Curry.

Wide receiver Mike Williams also injured a shoulder in the first quarter, but he returned.

WORTH NOTING

Olindo Mare kicked a pair of 23-yard field goals, running is club-record streak to 24 in a row.

The Chargers were called for three false-start penalties, pushing the number at Qwest Field to a league-high 99 since the start of the 2005 season.

Milloy had a game-high 12 tackles.

The Seahawks sacked Rivers four times and got nine hits on the Chargers’ QB; and they also broke up, tipped or intercepted eight of his passes.

Justin Forsett started at running back and got 17 of the Seahawks’ 20 carries, for 63 yards – both season highs for a Seattle running back.

FREE STUFF

  • By scoring more than 21 points, everyone in the Puget Sound receives free pancakes from IHOP.  Simply show your ticket or print off an online coupon tomorrow here on Seahawks.com to receive free pancakes.
  • Three touchdowns and a win earned everyone in the Puget Sound six free toppings at Papa John’s on Tuesday.  No ticket required.
  • By sacking the quarterback three times those in attendance can receive a free Jumbo Jack at an area Jack in the Box with a game ticket.
  • Scoring in the red zone won everyone with a ticket a free package of Oberto beef jerky and a free Slurpee from at 7-Eleven.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I love this today. It’s not the way you draw it up, but it was what it was.” – Carroll


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Fourth quarter

Peephole perspective: What a finish. The Chargers tied the game at 20, only to have Leon Washington return his second kickoff for a touchdown. But it took a fourth-down tip of a pass into the end zone to preserve the 27-20 victory.

Player of the quarter: Washington. Who else? Well, maybe Earl Thomas, who intercepted two passes. But after the Chargers had just tied the game, Washington took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a TD. He not only is the first player in franchise history to have two a game, but the first to have two. Period.

Play of the quarter: The Chargers could have tied the score for a second time, but CB Roy Lewis tipped away Philip Rivers’ fourth-down pass into the end zone to WR Legedu Naanee.

Number of the quarter: 99. The number of false-start penalties against the opposing team at Qwest since 2005 – a league high. The Chargers had three, including two late in the game and with them knocking at the goal line.

The bigger picture: On the Chargers’ third play of the quarter, Rivers’ pass went off TE Antonio Gates and Seahawks FS Earl Thomas intercepted the carom and returned it 34 yards to the Chargers’ 11.

The Seahawks didn’t score a TD, as Matt Hasselbeck’s second- and third-down passes into the end zone were incomplete. But Olindo Mare came on to kick his 24th consecutive field goal to make it 20-12 with 11:27 to play.

The Chargers came right back, however, as Rivers passed 28 yards to TE Randy McMichael on their next play and then for 8 yards to Naanee on third-and-2. Battering-ram back Mike Tolbert then accounted for the next 19 yards, to the Seahawks’ 2, on an 8-yard reception and runs of 7 and 4 yards. That’s when things really got interesting. Rivers passed to TE Antonio Gates for a TD, but LT Brandyn Dombroswki was called for holding when he tackled Seahawks DL Kentwan Balmer. But Rivers then passed 12 yards to Gates for a TD that counted. On the two-point conversion, Rivers passed to Naanee, but it was ruled he had gone out of bound and returned. So, River passed to Naanee again for the score to tie the score.

But, Washington then ran the ensuing kickoff back for 99 yards and another TD, making it 27-20 with 6:24 to play.

As a but to the but, however, the Chargers came storming back, moving from their own 21 to the Seahawks’ 14. That’s when the Chargers were guilt of back-to-back false starts and a delay-of-game penalty. The delay call nullified Rivers’ TD pass to Crayton on fourth-and-14. CB Roy Lewis then batted away Rivers’ pass to Crayton and the Seahawks took over.

This one wasn’t over until Thomas intercepted Rivers’ fourth-down pass with 6 seconds left, after the Chargers had reached the Seahawks’ 12.


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Third quarter

Peephole perspective: A 101-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington. A TD pass from Philip Rivers to Malcolm Floyd. A safety-producing sack in the end zone of Matt Hasselbeck. Seahawks 17-12.

Player of the quarter: Rivers. The Chargers’ QB was 9 of 15 for 159 yards and the TD, or a 118.5 passer rating.

Play of the quarter: Washington, come on down. The former Pro Bowl kick returner for the Jets took the second half kickoff and returned it a club-record 101 yards to make it 17-0.

Number of the quarter: 33. It’s Washington’s uniform number, and also the length of his other kickoff return in the quarter.

The bigger picture: Wow. Washington’s big return up the middle of the field erased the old mark of 97 yards, set by James Jefferson in 1989 and tied by Maurice Morris in 2002.

But, quicker than you could say two big pass plays, the Chargers had scored. The TD came on Philip Rivers’ 3-yard pass to WR Malcolm Floyd, capping a four-play, 80-yard drive. But the big plays were Rivers’ 28-yard pass to TE Antonio Gates and a 49-yarder to WR Buster Davis to the Seahawks’ 3.

CB Marcus Trufant injured an ankle on the long pass to Floyd, and was replaced by rookie Walter Thurmond on the Chargers next possession. The Seahawks also were playing without LB Aaron Curry, who injured a hamstring. Will Herring came in for Curry.

The Chargers were driving, thanks to Rivers’ completions of 18 yards to Floyd on third-and-11 and 23 yards to Patrick Crayton. But DE Chris Clemons picked up his second sack of the game on third-and-15 to force a punt.

On the Seahawks’ second play, however, Chargers LB Brandon Siler blitzed and sacked Hasselbeck in the end zone for a safety to make it 17-9 with 4:31 left in the quarter.

The Chargers took the free kick following the safety and drove 44 yards in nine plays to a 29-yard field goal by Nate Keading that cut the Seahawks lead to 17-12. The big plays on the drive were Rivers passing 6 yards to TE Antonio Gates on third-and-4, Rivers’ 17-yard pass to WR Buster Davis, RB Mike Tolbert’s 13-yard run and, on third-and-8, Thurmond knocking down Rivers’ pass into the end zone.


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Second quarter

Peephole perspective: Two more big defensive plays – one by each team. But also Olindo Mare’s club-record 23rd consecutive field goals and a 9-yard TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck to John Carlson. Seahawks 10-0.

Player of the quarter: Chargers S Paul Oliver. He was beaten for what appeared to be 42-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to WR Deion Branch. But Oliver stayed with the play and punched the ball from Branch’s grasp at the 1. The play was reviewed and reserved. Instead of a Seahawks’ TD, the play resulted in a touchdown and gave the Chargers the ball at their own 20. But, Oliver also was flagged for a 23-yard pass interference penalty a few seconds late, which set up the TD pass.

Play of the quarter: The Chargers were driving to a game-tying field goal, or even a go-ahead TD. But on first down from the Seahawks’ 12, LB David Hawthorne forced a fumble by putting helmet on the ball as RB Mike Tolbert was running up the gut. DE Red Bryant fell on the loose ball for his second fumble recovery of the half.

Number of the quarter: 23. It was the distance of Mare’s 23rd consecutive field goal, and also the yards Oliver was penalized on the critical P.I. call.

The bigger picture: A Seahawks drive that consumed the final three plays of the first quarter spilled into the second quarter, before Mare kicked his 23rd consecutive field goal – this one a 23-yarder to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive. After Hasselbeck passed to WR Golden Tate for 11 yards on third-and-11, RB Justin Forsett broke a 28-yard run on the first play of the quarter and Hasselbeck passed for 37 yards to TE John Carlson and 8 yards to Tate to the 2-yard line. But the Charger stopped Forsett twice to force the Seahawks to settle for three points.

The defense forced a three-and-out, as DT Brandon Mebane dropped Rivers for a 7-yard sack on first down; and Tate got the Seahawks field position with a 31-yard punt return to the Chargers’ 41. But Hasselbeck first-down pass to WR Mike Williams in the end zone was intercepted by CB Quentin Jammer.

The Chargers took advantage of Jammer’s pick, as Rivers passed to WR Malcolm Floyd for 16 yards on third-and-12, and also hit 16-yarders to WR Legedu Naanee and WR Patrick Crayton to give the Chargers a first down at the Seahawks’ 34. The Chargers then converted on a third-and-12 play, as Rivers passed 24 yards to Floyd. But on the next play, Hawthorne and Bryant produced the play of the quarter.

The Seahawks’ offense went to work, driving for appeared to be a touchdown. But Oliver punched the ball from the grasp of Branch and it rolled through the end zone for a touchback. Hasselbeck was 6 of 7 on the drive for 94 yards, but lost the TD pass when the play was reviewed and reversed.

The defense held, again. And the offense went to work, again. Thanks to Oliver’s pass interference penalty against WR Deon Butler, the Seahawks’ got the first TD of the game. But not before that play was reviewed – but this time not reversed.

Seahawks rookie S Kam Chancellor forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and rookie DE Dexter Davis recovered at the Chargers’ 24. That play also was reviewed, and overturned, because it had been ruled on the field that returner Darren Sproles was down before the ball came out.

The Seahawks had another chance to score, but time expired before Mare could get off a field goal attempt.


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First quarter

Peephole perspective: One fumble and four punts. And a 0-0 score.

Player of the quarter: Chris Clemons. The Seahawks’ “Leo” defensive end was a force in the first 15 minutes. He got to Chargers QB Philip River for a drive-stalling sack on third down and also teamed with LB Aaron Curry to drop WR Legedu Naanee for a 7-yard loss on an end around.

Play of the quarter: On the third play of the game, SS Lawyer Milloy forced a fumble and DE Red Bryant recovered it. It was the kind of play coach Pete Carroll had been wanting all week. But the Seahawks could not capitalize.

Stat of the quarter: 3 for 5. That was the Seahawks on third downs, for 60 percent.

The bigger picture: The Chargers got the ball first when QB Philip Rivers called heads on the coin toss and it was. But three plays later, Milloy forced Chargers WR Legedu Naanee to fumble after taking a 9-yard pass and Bryant recovered at the San Diego 46.

But the Seahawks could not convert and went three-and-out.

The Chargers drove into Seahawks territory on the ensuing series, but just barely and briefly, as Clemons and Curry dropped Naanee for a 7-yard loss on an end around and Clemons got to Rivers for a 6-yard sack on third down.

The Seahawks then moved the ball from their own 14 to the 39, but Hasselbeck ran into a 4-yard sack on third-and-10. Prior to the sack, Hasselbeck hooked up with WR Mike Williams for a 13-yard gain on third-and-12 and RB Justin Forsett used a lead block from FB Michael Robinson to gain 6 yards on third-and-2.

Williams had to go to the locker room with a shoulder injury and it was announced that his return is questionable.


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Mathews inactive for Chargers

The following players are inactive for the Chargers:

  • RB Ryan Mathews
  • LB Larry English
  • LB Stephen Cooper
  • DT Cam Thomas
  • OT Adam Terry
  • DE Vaughn Martin
  • LB Jyles Tucker
  • 3rd QB: J.T. O’Sullivan

Mathews is out because of the high ankle sprain he got in last week’s game. His absence will change the dynamic of the Chargers’ running game, as 245-pound Mike Tolbert gets the start. That will create quite the counterpunch when the Chargers go to Darren Sproles, who is 5-9, 190. Tolbert ran for 82 yards and a pair of short touchdowns last week after Mathews was injured.


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Ganther inactive for Seahawks

Ganther inactive for Seahawks

The following players are inactive for the Seahawks today:

  • OT Russell Okung
  • LB Leroy Hill
  • OL Chester Pitts
  • OG Evan Dietrich-Smith
  • DL E.J. Wilson
  • DB Mike Ness
  • TE Anthony McCoy
  • RB Quinton Ganther

No surprises here. Ganther did not practice until Friday because of a sore knee. With Ganther out, look for the versatile Michael Robinson to get snaps at fullback – on those rare occasions when the Seahawks use a fullback.


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Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from a wet Qwest Field, where some of the Seahawks are just taking the field to prepare for today’s game aganst the San Diego Chargers on this first Sunday of fall.

Two of the bigger – and more pivotal – storylines on this soggy afternoon involve Earl Thomas, the Seahawks’ rookie free safety, and the ability of Seattle’s still-developing running game to produce yards against the Chargers’ 3-4 defensive front.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers likes to throw deep, and coach Norv Turner has devised protection schemes that allow him to make seven-step drops, which in turn gives his receivers time to complete their longer routes. Thomas, the second of the Seahawks’ first-round draft choices, will have to be on his game to prevent giving the Chargers any quick scores.

One way to help Thomas is to get pressure on Rivers. The Seahawks did not generate enough on Kyle Orton in Denver last week and the Broncos’ QB made them pay by completing 25 of 35 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked just once, which also was the only time the Seahawks were able to hit him.

The Seahawks can blitz, of course. But that leaves holes in the secondary that other experienced quarterbacks were able to exploit last season.

The plus side is that the Seahawks are playing at home, where the din generated by the 12th Man crowd makes it difficult for opposing linemen to hear the snap count and allows the Seahawks’ pass rushers to get a jump on them.

As for the running game, the Seahawks managed 77 rushing yards while running into the 49ers’ 3-4 front in their opener, but had 109 last week against the Broncos and their 4-3 defense. The Chargers are allowing averages of 103 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry.

Getting the running game going early will take some of the pressure off QB Matt Hasselbeck, who threw three interceptions against the Broncos.

The Chargers, meanwhile, are dealing with a couple of intangibles. First, the rain – which they did not handle well in Kansas City while dropping their season opener to the Chiefs.

As Turner said this week, “We played really a half of the game, in the second and third quarter, in a pretty good, not only rain, but windstorm so it kind of nullified both teams on offense and made the game a much lower scoring game than we had anticipated.  I think we came back and played better the second week.  We still have some areas that concern me.  We turned the football over more than we’re accustomed to doing.”

Then there’s the return of Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill, who signed his tender on Saturday in time to travel with the team to Seattle. McNeill won’t play today, or in the next two games, because he was placed on the roster exempt list on Aug. 20. But Brandyn Dombrowski, who has been subbing for McNeill, knows what’s coming – much like Tyler Polumbus, who is keeping the Seahawks’ left tackle spot warm until first-round draft choice Russell Okung is ready to return from the high ankle sprain that has sidelined him for five weeks.

There’s also the unresolved issue of wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who continues his no-show in an attempt to be traded and secure a long-term deal. Turner and Rivers said this week that the absences of McNeill and Jackson have not been a distraction. But the unofficial word is that they have.

But the true bottom line today is turnovers. The Chargers got six last week in routing the Jaguars 38-13; the Seahawks committed four in their 17-point loss to the Broncos.

As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will tell you: It’s all about the ball.

We’ll be back later with the lists of inactive players for both teams – which will include Okung and linebacker Leroy Hill for the Seahawks and is expected to include running back Ryan Mathews, the Chargers’ first-round draft choice.


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