Though Russell Wilson and many of the team's starters still didn't play, the Seahawks finally showed life in the first half of their preseason finale, building a 17-0 lead over the Chargers.
Leading the way, Geno Smith completed 11 out of 15 passes for 90 yards and Alex Collins contributed 48 total yards of offense and a touchdown offensively. Marquise Blair returned a fumble for a touchdown on the game's opening drive to set the tone and Darrell Taylor later recorded his first career NFL sack rocketing off the edge to help shutout the opposition.
Here are three quick takeaways from the first two quarters at Lumen Field:
1. After starting sluggishly the first two exhibition games, a pair of former Utah Utes got defensive and promptly changed the narrative.
During the first half of losses to Las Vegas and Denver to open the preseason, Seattle was outscored by its opposition 37-0. Taking matters into their own hands, linebacker Cody Barton and Blair, who starred together at Utah, ensured that scoring drought would come to an end quickly in the finale. Blitzing through the B-gap on 3rd and 7, Barton came through the line untouched and obliterated Daniel, forcing a fumble. Catching the ball in the air, Blair then raced 17 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game to give the Seahawks a fast 7-0 advantage. Both players enjoyed strong first halves for a stingy defense, with Blair returning from a bruised kneecap to record two tackles and Barton posting five tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss.
2. Even with most of their starters still wearing caps on the sideline, the offense finally came to play due to reinforcements.
With Wilson not playing at all in the preseason, the Seahawks were hopeful Geno Smith would get a lot of repetitions under center. But a concussion knocked him out of the preseason opener early and sidelined him last week, leaving Alex McGough and Sean Mannion as the only healthy options. With Smith back, a few offensive line starters, and more weapons to work with such as rookie Dee Eskridge and fellow receiver Penny Hart, Seattle’s offense found its groove after a rough first possession. Going 80 yards on 11 plays, Smith connected on five out of six passes on the drive, finding Eskridge, Hart, and Alex Collins for first down completions. Collins punctuated the drive with a five-yard touchdown through the teeth of the defense, powering his way into the end zone. On their next drive, the Seahawks again chewed up almost seven minutes of clock with a 14-play, 51-yard drive that culminated with a short field goal by Jason Myers to extend the lead to 17-0 late in the second quarter.
3. If he didn’t have a spot on the 53-man roster already locked up, Alex Collins secured it with a fantastic first half.
There were plenty of players who contributed to Seattle’s stellar first half, but Collins was undoubtedly the star of the show. Putting his Irish dancing skills into practice both as a runner and a receiver, he worked the sticks with jump cuts and jukes that were smooth as silk, consistently making Chargers would-be tacklers look silly. On the Seahawks touchdown drive, he produced 15 yards on three carries and 13 yards on a pair of receptions, including a 14-yard gain where he made a linebacker whiff on a quick dump-off pass and nearly found pay dirt. He would get his touchdown two plays later, following behind left guard Damien Lewis and bulldozing his way for six. To cap off a sensational half, though he didn't get the first down, Collins bounced a run that looked dead in the water back to the right across the field, seemingly running a million yards to pick up 14. Myers tacked on the field goal on the very next play. Given how he looked tonight, he might be the No. 2 back behind Chris Carson.