By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
SAN DIEGO — Minus several weapons, the Seattle Seahawks starting offense struggled to move the ball in the opening quarter against the San Diego Chargers’ starters in the 2013 exhibition opener for both teams.
After a lackluster offensive performance in a team scrimmage last week, Seattle’s Russell Wilson-led offense was held scoreless in two drives during the first quarter of Seattle’s 31-10 win over the Chargers Thursday evening at Qualcomm Stadium.
“We kind of staggered our way through the first couple series,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t get much done right off the bat. But that’s early in the game, and I’m not worried about it.”
Wilson finished 2-for-6 passing for just 23 yards, as the second-year pro was under pressure and had to scramble around most of the opening quarter.
“That’s the first preseason game, so you wish you were in there longer,” Wilson said. “But the great thing is the offense kept clicking. Brady (Quinn) and Tarvaris (Jackson) did a tremendous job of getting us going, and making some big-time plays.”
It didn’t help that Wilson played without his starting receiving group of Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and tight end Zach Miller — all saddled with injuries.
But backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and receiver Stephen Williams picked up the slack offensively in the second half.
Jackson and Williams twice connected on two deep passing plays — a 41-yard connection setting up a 6-yard touchdown by Spencer Ware, and 42-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter — to help the Seahawks run away with the game in the second half.
And with Marshawn Lynch relegated to watching from the sidelines most of the evening, Seattle rookie second-round draft choice Christine Michael bulled his way to 89 yards on 16 carries.
The Chargers got on the scoreboard first, taking the opening drive and marching 74 yards on 13 plays, but stalling inside Seattle’s 20-yard line. San Diego had to settle for a Nick Novak 28-yard field goal.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers finished 5-for-6 on the drive for 45yards.
That was it for Rivers, who gave way to former Seahawks signal caller Charlie Whitehurst, now back with the Chargers as the backup after two seasons in Seattle.
The Seahawks answered with a score of their own late in the second quarter. Seattle got great field position after cornerback Byron Maxwell intercepted a Whitehurst pass and returned it 28 yards to San Diego’s 14-yard line.
Three plays later, Brady Quinn found a wide-open Jermaine Kearse down the middle of the field for an 11-yard touchdown, giving Seattle a 7-3 lead.
“I (saw) it was a man coverage and I just tried to win — tried to compete,” Kearse said about the score. He finished with two receptions for 31 yards.
Quinn finished 6-for-11 for 59 yards, including the touchdown pass to Kearse.
Kicker Steven Hauschka almost added another three points, with his 61-yard field goal attempt bouncing off the cross bar and back into the field of play to end the first half.
The Seahawks added another field goal on a Carson Wigs’ 22-yarder, which was set up by a 46-yard punt return by Walter Thurmond.
Ware’s 6-yard run gave Seattle a 17-3 advantage. And the Jackson-to-Willams 42-yard connection gave Seattle a commanding, 24-3 lead with 14:52 left in the game.
The Chargers cut Seattle’s lead to 24-10 on a Ladarius Green 21-yard reception from quarterback Brad Sorenson.
But Jackson completed the scoring for the game when he found fullback Derrick Coleman out in the flat for 6-yard score.
Jackson finished 8-for-9 for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Williams hauled in two catches for 83 yards, including a 42-yard score.
Undrafted rookie free agent Benson Mayowa was one of the defensive stars for the Seahawks, finishing with two sacks.
“It felt amazing,” Mayowa said about his performance. “I’m out here working hard every day. And for me to come out here and do that, that’s a great step.”
Middle linebacker Allen Bradford led Seattle in tackles with a combined eight.