Justin Griffith’s shoulders: They were square as he led the running backs through seams in the line, and the lead-blocking efforts of the veteran fullback were the most impressive element of the improved running game.
Second-year man Owen Schmitt got the start at fullback, but the running game generated only 15 yards in the first quarter. When Griffith took over in the second quarter, Julius Jones broke back-to-back 8-yarders on the first two plays.
On the first, Griffith threw the kind of lead block the new zone-blocking scheme needs to function at its best. On the second, Jones made the one-step-and-go decision that will be needed for the running game to flourish.
The Seahawks ran for 36 yards, averaging 5.1 on seven carries, on that first series of the second quarter.
Will Herring’s body: As in his full body of work. There was his third-down interception to ice the win, after the Chiefs had driven to the Seahawks’ 39-yard line with less than two minutes to play.
But the third-linebacker also had a 3-yard sack of Tyler Thigpen. In a preseason where the backup linebackers have played well, none has been better than Herring.
Aaron Curry’s legs: They haven’t always taken the team’s first-round draft choice in the right direction in a summer that got off to a late start and then included an injury interruption, but the rookie linebacker has been playing at full speed since he arrived after missing the first eight days of training camp.
Against the Chiefs, his most impressive play was getting into the backfield to pull running back Larry Johnson down from behind for no gain. But Curry also displayed the power those legs can generate by flattening running back Jackie Battle with a big-time hit.
John Carlson’s hands: This one was obvious. The second-year tight end caught five passes for 68 yards – including the final three on what proved to be the game-winning touchdown drive to open the third quarter.
There was his 4-yarder on third-and-1, a short pass from Matt Hasselbeck that turned into a 20-yard gain and the TD – on a 28-yarder that again was as much about the run after the catch as it was the reception.
Hasselbeck said after the game that he had multiple options on the play. He made the right one in going to Carlson.
Matt Hasselbeck’s head: Since we’re talking about making the right decisions, let’s go to the source. Yes, he completed 19 of 25 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns – and was 9 of 11 for 105 yards on the scoring drives.
Better than the throws, however, was the thought process. He went to the right receivers, at the right time, with the right throws.
In the past two games, when he has played just over four quarters, Hasselbeck is 35 of 48 – to nine different receivers – for 435 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception, for a 118.6 passer rating.
Bring on the regular season.
The right legs for Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu: Club president Tim Ruskell says the team will carry only one kicker this season, after keeping both last year. But Mare, the strong-legged veteran, and Coutu, the promising second-year kicker, did nothing to create any distance in this competition against the Chiefs.
While Mare missed field-goal attempts from 51 and 27 yards, Coutu was short on a 50-yarder – his first preseason miss after making 11 in a row the past two summers. Mare’s opening kickoff went to the goal line, but his second made it only to the Chiefs 13, while Coutu’s only kickoff went to the Chiefs 30.
The week ahead
The roster cuts made Sunday were not surprising. Defensive tackle Kevin Brown, fullback Dan Curran, linebacker Shane Simmons and tight end John Tereshinski were the last players on the depth chart at their positions.
Now come the toughest cuts, when the club must get to 53 players by Saturday.
That will add intrigue to what many consider a yawner of a preseason finale on Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders. The game at Qwest Field will be turned over to those players looking to solidify their roster spots and those battling for the final few berths.
Who will be the fifth and sixth wide receiver? And will the club be able to carry six because of the need for extra bodies on the offensive line because left tackle Walter Jones and center Chris Spencer likely won’t be ready for the regular-season opener? What happens on the defensive line, where rookies Nick Reed and Michael Bennett have played well enough to earn spots?
That’s why it will be worth not only watching, but analyzing, everything that goes on Thursday night.