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Mixed reviews for Seahawks' offensive line

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By Rich Myhre and John Boyle
Herald Writers
  • Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a 19-yard TD pass with 10 seconds to play in the first half in Sunday's game against the Vikings.

    Samuel Wilson / The Herald

    Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a 19-yard TD pass with 10 seconds to play in the first half in Sunday's game against the Vikings.

SEATTLE -- Though the debut of wide receiver Percy Harvin ended up getting most of the attention after the game, the return of three injured offensive linemen was equally important to the Seattle Seahawks, both on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and looking ahead to the season's remaining weeks.
For the first time since a Sept. 15 game against San Francisco, the Seahawks had their entire starting offensive line on the field in a 41-20 victory over the Vikings. The returning starters included tackles Russell Okung, who had been out with a toe injury since the game against the 49ers, and Breno Giacomini, who was hurt the following week against Jacksonville.
Also back against Minnesota was center Max Unger, who missed last week's game against Atlanta after suffering a concussion against Tampa Bay on Nov. 3. Unger missed two other games earlier in the season with a triceps injury.
"The starting front is back together, and it was great to go out there and knock the rust off against a very good defense," Okung said. "It was a really good test, especially (with three players) coming back this week."
"It was awesome," Giacomini said. "This feels great." Sitting out for several weeks, he added, "was not much fun. ... It felt good to be out there in and in the huddle with all the (usual) faces."
The play of the offensive line got mixed reviews afterward, both from the players themselves and from head coach Pete Carroll. Seattle's running game never really got untracked -- running back Marshawn Lynch was held to 54 yards on 17 carries after gaining 125 and 145 in his previous two games -- "and that's on all of us," Unger said. "That's something we need to improve on. ... But the passing game was good. I thought we threw the ball really well and protected (quarterback Russell Wilson) really well."
"I think both the tackles were, let's call it rusty," Carroll said. "I don't think they had their best games. I think that the speed of the game, they had to catch up with it a little bit. But it was great that they played a lot and now they'll get a break (for the bye), and we'll come back and try to get them right.
"It was a lot to ask of them after being out so long," he added. "I think they'll play better."
Limited returns
A big concern for the Seahawks this week was dealing with a pair of dangerous return men for the Vikings. Punt returner Marcus Sherels came into the game averaging an NFL-best 16.3 yards per punt return, while rookie Cordarrelle Patterson was averaging a league-best 35.2 yards per kickoff return.
Neither ended up being much of a factor, though Patterson did have one return on which he looked close to breaking, only to be tripped up by Robert Turbin. Patterson averaged 29.3 yards on four returns -- a solid number, but below his average -- and had a long of 35 yards. Sherels, meanwhile, did not have a return, fair catching all three punts that he fielded. With those fair catches, as well as a punt that went out of bounds and another that was downed at the 7-yard line, the Seahawks still have given up just 15 punt return yards all season.
"We handled the kicking game well," Carroll said. "We really respected their returners and we kept them in check for the most part. They had one good return, but all in all we really answered that (challenge). That was a big deal going in."
Injury update
Receiver Jermaine Kearse suffered a concussion on a first-half kickoff return and did not return to the game. Kearse wrote "I'm gonna be fine" on Twitter after the game, thanking fans for their concern, and while he will have to go through the usual concussion protocol, the fact that Seattle is heading into its bye bodes well for Kearse's chances of not missing a game. Carroll said the team came out of the game fine otherwise.
Flag of support
Because his grandmother is Filipino, Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin wanted to make a statement of support to the people of that beleaguered country before Sunday's game. He did so by running on the field with a flag of the Philippines during player introductions.
"I just wanted to do something special," he said. "So I asked the NFL if they'd let me do that, and they said it was OK."
The Philippines were hit by a large earthquake on Oct. 15, and then by a massive typhoon earlier this month.
The recent days have "obviously been an emotional time for her," Baldwin said of his grandmother, who lives now in Florida where Baldwin was raised. "We weren't able to get in contact with our family members until about a week ago."
Red Cross volunteers were collecting donations for disaster relief today, with the Paul Allen Foundation matching whatever was collected
Scoreboard watching
The Seahawks' hopes of winning the NFC West got a boost Sunday thanks to New Orleans' win over San Francisco, which dropped the 49ers to 6-4. That game ended shortly after Seattle's victory, and some fans stuck around CenturyLink Field to watch the ending, which led to a big cheer going up well after the Seahawks game had ended.
The Seahawks were watching too in the locker room. When asked if he had seen how that game turned out, Carroll joked, "You mean that they kicked a field goal to win it right there at the end? No. No, we saw it, yeah. We just saw it in the locker room real quick, just caught the end of it. It was good."
One drop, one catch
Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner was kicking himself after dropping a third-quarter Minnesota pass that he almost certainly would have returned for a touchdown.
Wagner atoned a few minutes later with an interception that gave the Seahawks a first down at the Minnesota 18 and set up a Seattle touchdown moments later.
Of the first pass, "I just broke on it, but I didn't catch it," Wagner said ruefully. "I should've had two picks, but ... I got one."
Bye-bye in bye week
The Seahawks will have their bye next week, and the players will get most of the next week off. Some will stay in Seattle, but many will head to their homes around the country.
Among the latter is Earl Thomas, who expects to return to his home in Orange, Texas, a small community on the Sabine River at the east Texas border with Louisiana.
"I'm going back to the country," Thomas said. "There's too much city for me right now. I've got to get back to my roots and enjoy my family ... and just to try to get that rejuvenation feeling."
The bye week "is great timing for us," said tight end Zach Miller. "There are guys banged up, so we can get healthy. Everyone needs a little break to take a few days for themselves, and then lock back in when we start back in another week."
Story tags » Seahawks

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