SEATTLE — As Kam Chancellor described the interception that helped the Seattle Seahawks secure their first victory of the season, Earl Thomas couldn’t let his fellow safety simply enjoy the moment in a boisterous Seattle locker room.
“You gotta work on your jukes, man,”
; Thomas said, unimpressed with Chancellor’s return of the interception that clinched Seattle’s 13-10 victory over Arizona.
And when a safety’s inability to maximize his return yardage is the criticism being voiced after the game, well that, folks, is a good problem to have.
It was far from perfect, but the Seahawks captured their first victory of the season in front of 66,199 sometimes sun-drenched, sometimes rain-soaked fans at CenturyLink Field. And while the offense is clearly still a work in progress, Seattle’s defense, buoyed by its first game at home, pitched a second-half shutout that allowed Tarvaris Jackson’s third-quarter touchdown run to stand as the game winner.
And most importantly, Seattle showed plenty of fight after losing its first two games by a combined 40 points, including a shutout loss in Pittsburgh last weekend in which the offense never got past the Steelers 26-yard line.
“Our back was against the wall,” said defensive end Chris Clemons. “We didn’t want to drop to 0-3.”
The Seahawks avoided their first 0-3 start since 2002 with exactly the formula they hope can lead to victories with a still developing offense: they took care of the ball — the only turnover was a desperation heave at the end of the first half. They created turnovers, they played stingy defense, and got just enough offense to squeak out a victory. The wins, when they do occur, aren’t likely to be pretty this season, but that’s just fine with this team.
“We have a long ways to go, we have a lot of work to do, but we got a little bit better today,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
With another home game coming up next week against Atlanta, the Seahawks believe this game, not the two double-digit losses, can be a harbinger of things to come.
“It was real big for us,” said cornerback Marcus Trufant, who had an interception late in the first half. “We can kind of use this to jump start us a little bit.”
Seattle started the game with the ball, and Jackson immediately found receiver Sidney Rice, who was making his Seahawks debut after missing two games with a shoulder injury. Rice, who was Jackson’s teammate for four years in Minnesota, clearly made a difference for Jackson and the offense, catching eight passes for 109 yards. His 32-yard catch down the sideline set up a Steven Hauschka field goal on Seattle’s second possession. Hauschka’s field goal, a 30-yarder, gave Seattle its first lead of the 2011 season as well as its first first-half points.
The Cardinals tied the score on the ensuing possession, then took a 10-3 lead when Larry Fitzgerald somehow caught a 12-yard pass in the end zone despite tight coverage from both Thomas and cornerback Brandon Browner.
But while that touchdown catch was vintage Fitzgerald, the Pro Bowl receiver had only five catches, none of which came in the second half.
“We did a great job taking him out of the game,” Thomas said. “He had one great catch, but we still had great coverage on him. It was good defense; better catch.”
The Seahawks cut the lead to 10-6 late in the second quarter on a 52-yard field goal by Hauschka. Arizona quickly moved into Seahawks territory on the following possession, but Trufant ended the threat with an interception that gave Seattle’s defense its first takeaway of the season.
Seattle’s first drive of the second half was also its best of the game, and perhaps of this young season.
Playing mostly no-huddle offense, the Seahawks drove 72-yards on 14 plays and took the lead on an 11-yard scramble by Jackson, who put his head down to take on two Cardinals defenders at the goal line.
With a 13-10 lead, the Seahawks defense did the rest, holding Arizona scoreless on its final six possessions. Jay Feely missed a 49-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the score with just over five minutes remaining. Feely was kicking into the wind, and would have had a more manageable distance if not for a Clemons sack. After Seattle quickly gave the ball back, and in decent field position thanks to a 9-yard punt, the defense held on once again, with Chancellor coming up with the big interception. Arizona did get the ball back with 35 seconds left, but ran out of time.
“It feels good,” Chancellor said while ignoring Thomas’ taunts. “We’re tired of losing. Oh-and-two didn’t feel good at all.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog