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