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Seahawks Rapid Reaction: Drew Lock, Rookies, Lead Seattle to Preseason Win vs. Vikings

Playing without most of their starters, Drew Lock put the Seattle Seahawks on his right throwing arm and overcame a second half mistake to lead the team back from an early hole for an 11-point victory to open the preseason.

Bouncing back from an early 10-0 deficit, Drew Lock threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Seattle Seahawks opened preseason play with an exciting 24-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Starting off exhibition season in the win column with several rookies making an impact, here are five quick observations from Seattle's victory at Lumen Field:

1. From Jaxon Smith-Njigba to Mike Morris, draft picks impressed in their Seahawks debuts on both sides of the football.

Though fans didn’t get to see top-five pick Devon Witherspoon on Thursday night, they should be quite pleased with what they saw from the rest of their latest draft class, starting with defensive linemen Mike Morris and Derick Hall. Out of the gate, Hall explosively slanted inside to draw a holding penalty on the second play from scrimmage, pushing the Vikings back inside their own 10-yard line. Two plays later on third down, Hall again wreaked havoc with immediate penetration, forcing quarterback Nick Mullens to step up into the massive Morris, who rocked him as he threw an incompletion into the turf.

On the night, Morris produced two key third down quarterback hits that forced a punt and a field goal, while Hall played better than his stat line may indicate with a hit negated by a bang-bang roughing the passer penalty that led to Minnesota’s first points. In the secondary, sixth-round pick Jerrick Reed II had a tackle for loss near the goal line and added a pass breakup in coverage during a solid debut.

Meanwhile on offense, though his first two catches went for minimal yardage, first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught three of the four targets thrown his direction, including a 15-yard reception to close out his night. In the trenches, center Olu Oluwatimi and guard Anthony Bradford performed well as pass protectors and run blockers, helping pave the way on Seattle’s two touchdown drives that erased an early 10-point hole and providing some encouraging signs for the offensive line.

2. Playing deep into the second half, Drew Lock’s performance played a mostly clean performance in place of Geno Smith.

As has been the case too often in his career to this point, Lock couldn’t quite get through his lengthy preseason run without a head-scratching pick. Early in the third quarter, with pressure bearing down on him, he tried to squeeze a throw into undrafted rookie Matt Landers, but rookie cornerback Jaylin Williams slid into the window and the ball was tipped, leading to an interception.

But aside from that play, which was definitely impacted by the ball getting tipped at the line of scrimmage, Lock was sharp and in full command running Seattle’s offense. Even when the team punted three straight drives to open the game, he played poised from the pocket and eventually the dam broke as he completed all three of his passes for 48 yards on the fourth drive, capping things off with a 13-yard missile to receiver Easop Winston to cut the deficit to 10-7 before halftime.

Rebounding nicely from his lone mistake, Lock showed off his underrated athleticism and mobility moving the pocket, moving Seattle inside the 20-yard line late in the third quarter before dropping a perfect dime to receiver Jake Bobo for a 19-yard touchdown to take a 17-13 lead. Finishing just under 200 yards passing, he completed 70 percent of his throws and posted a strong 104.7 passer rating, making marked progress from last preseason.

3. At least for one night, aside from expected tackling woes early, the Seahawks played quality run defense from front to back.

Easily the Achilles’ heel for last year’s playoff-bound squad, Seattle finished near the bottom of the NFL in rushing yards allowed, giving up nearly 150 yards on the ground per game. This offseason, the coaching staff and front office went back to the drawing board looking for ways to improve scheme as well as personnel to ensure the team doesn’t struggle near as much in that department. Even if it was a preseason game, Thursday was a nice first step in that department.

Though the Vikings ripped off a couple decent runs on their second and third drives as they scored 10 quick points, the Seahawks did a quality job executing run fits and setting the edge most of the night. Most notably, playing with the starters in place of injured Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe made a pair of outstanding run stops on the second drive, blowing up a 3rd and 1 rush attempt for no gain and then shedding a block to drag down a back for a two-yard loss two plays later. Bouncing back from a couple bad missed tackles, linebacker Jon Rhattigan made several nice stops against the run as well and finished leading the team with nine tackles in the first half.

For the game, Minnesota rushed 25 times for just 76 yards and 3.1 yards per carry, failing to rush for more than 10 yards on a single carry all night. It’s just a baby step, but Carroll, defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, and the rest of the coaching staff should be happy with opening results anchored by a young defensive line headlined by Mafe, Hall, and Morris.

4. Rising up the depth chart by day, Jake Bobo continues to stake a claim to a roster spot as an undrafted free agent.

Continuing his hot start to his first NFL training camp after leading the Seahawks with seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown in the team’s mock scrimmage last week, Bobo once again flashed as one of the stars under the lights on Thursday. Showing a strong rapport with Lock, he reeled in all three of his targets for 55 yards and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. His second reception went for 29 yards on a corner route, moving the offense into the red zone and setting up Lock’s touchdown toss to Winston late in the first half.

Moments after Lock’s interception and a gifted muffed punt by Minnesota, Bobo struck again with his deceptive speed and quickness, as the 6-4 receiver shook cornerback Andrew Booth out of his cleats with a slick release to gain separation one-on-one. Quickly identifying the open receiver, Lock lofted a perfect strike to him for a 19-yard score that gave Seattle its first lead of the night. Nearly putting a cherry on top of an outstanding night, he was mere inches away from a spectacular play batting a Dickson punt back into play before crossing the goal line, only for his toe to touch the paint and lead to a touchback.

Whether on offense or special teams, Bobo continues to make things happen and with Dee Eskridge suspended for six games to open the season and Dareke Young nursing a hip/groin injury, the door has been opened even wider for him to earn a roster spot. If he keeps playing as he has the past couple of weeks, he could soon enter lock status to make the squad, which few could have foreseen when he signed undrafted in May.

5. A fun win gets marred by ugly injuries, including Cade Johnson being transported to hospital for observation.

While most of the results from Thursday night were positive ones, the game couldn’t have started off worse for Seattle. Covering a kickoff, Eskridge was down on the field for a few moments before walking off under his own power and visiting the blue medical tent. He didn’t play another snap the rest of the night and his status remains unknown.

As if Eskridge’s injury wasn’t bad enough, Johnson was later taken off the field on a stretcher and rushed to a local hospital for observation with a head and neck injury. The injury likely happened after taking a hard hit to the helmet on a jet sweep run. According to the Seahawks, the third-year receiver was in stable condition, but a banged-up position group continues to become more depleted by day due to injuries as well as suspensions.

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