Coach Jim Mora left this Thursday evening to backups and those players battling for roster spots, and they did not go gentle into the good night – as Dylan Thomas might have put it after a 31-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Qwest Field that was even more convincing than the score indicated.
But the players that sparked the final win in the Seahawks’ first unbeaten preseason also borrowed a page from Bob Dylan: They rocked, and they rolled.
Rookie running back Devin Moore carried 22 times for 75 yards, and kept the ball from his first NFL touchdown so he can give it to his mother.
Wide receiver Ben Obomanu made an impressive catch to score a 38-yard touchdown, at the same goal line where he broke his collarbone against Raiders last summer while trying to make a diving catch – an injury that sidelined him for the regular season.
Rookie quarterback Mike Teel completed 11 of 19 passes for 148 yards in leading four scoring drives – including his 11-yard TD pass to rookie Deon Butler and Obomanu’s redemption TD.
Wide receiver Logan Payne made a sliding catch of a pass from No. 4 QB Jeff Rowe and then got up to run into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
Rookie defensive end Nick Reed had a sack – giving him 4½ – among his team-high seven tackles. Fellow rookie Michael Bennett played the entire game – at defensive tackle and end – and had three quarterback hurries, a tipped pass and a fumble recovery. Free agent defensive lineman Derek Walker also forced a fumble and tipped a pass.
Good luck trimming this 75-man roster to 53 players by the league-mandated deadline on Saturday.
“A lot of men in that room are making our job as an organization awfully tough because of the way they performed this preseason,” coach Jim Mora said. “That’s a good thing, and I told those guys I was really proud of the way they played, the energy they showed, the passion they played with.
“You could tell that those guys cared. We gave a lot of guys a chance to show what they could do and put out good tape. Our objective as a staff was to get 75 guys on a roster – whether it be here, or somewhere else, or on a practice squad.”
Those players on the bubble know what’s coming. But they also were able to leave the locker room on Thursday night confident that they had made the most of the opportunity Mora had given them.
“I felt like I did a lot,” said Bennett, a rookie free agent from Texas A&M. “Hopefully I’m here, but you know how it goes.”
Offered Moore, “It felt great. A lot of guys stepped up tonight. You know, backs against the wall, so to speak. My blessings are with everybody and I hope it turns out well for me.”
The No. 1 offense played just one series, with Matt Hasselbeck handing off five times. The first two carries went to Edgerrin James, the leading rusher among active NFL players who joined the team just last week.
“Initially, my thought going into this game was to sit all of the starters,” Mora said. “But I wanted to get Edgerrin a couple of carries, and I didn’t want to put Edgerrin in there with anyone other than the first group.”
James responded to his first action since the Super Bowl, when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, by gaining 4 and 7 yards.
The one defensive starter who did play was first-round draft choice Aaron Curry, and the rookie linebacker was a tempo-setter. He finished with four tackles (two for losses), a sack, a forced fumble and enough havoc to justify being the fourth pick overall.
It was a needed performance, after Curry missed the first eight days of training camp and then sat out another week with an injury.
“Aaron confirmed some of the things we saw on tape – the explosiveness and the speed and the playmaking ability,” Mora said. “He plays with a ton of energy.”
So does rookie Max Unger, who has won the starting job at right guard – just as expected after he was drafted in the second round. Unger was the one offensive starter who stayed on the field when the others headed to the sideline for good.
“Max does a lot of things well,” Mora said. “He hasn’t let the level of competition get to him at all. He plays up to the level of competition every week. We believe he’s ready to start and be a productive player in this league immediately.
“He showed that right off the bat – from the first minicamp. He didn’t look like a rookie.”
Curry’s efforts spilled over to those backups who joined him in the starting lineup on a night when the starters got the night off.
“There are a lot of guys in that locker room that are worthy of playing in this league and unfortunately they won’t all be Seattle Seahawks,” Mora said.
But on this night they were, and they made the most of it by refusing to go gently into this good night.