SAN DIEGO – If there had been any real debate about the Seahawks’ backup quarterback for 2013, it likely ended during a three-series flurry here Thursday night that also helped lift Seattle to an easy 31-10 win over San Diego in its exhibition opener.
Tarvaris Jackson, who was the third Seattle quarterback to play after starter Russell Wilson and Brady Quinn, hit Stephen Williams on passes of 41 and 42 yards on consecutive possessions to lead to Seattle scores and blow the game open.
Jackson, Seattle’s starter in 2011 who was re-signed to the roster in June after being cut by Buffalo, then led another TD drive that he capped with a 6-yard pass to Derrick Coleman for the final score of the game.
The first pass to Williams set up a 6-yard TD run by Spencer Ware while the second pass went for a touchdown by Williams, who, by making the two grabs, also made a strong case for himself to make the final 53-man roster.
The loss of Percy Harvin means another spot for a receiver, and the Seahawks have been intrigued by the size and playmaking ability of the 6-foot-5 Williams since signing him in January.
The Seahawks began the game without six players listed as starters on their depth chart this week. That total rises to seven if you count Harvin, who is out 3-4 months after having surgery.
The emphasis for the game, though, was on younger players trying to make an impression, and several took advantage.
Rookie running back Christine Michael, getting much of the early work with Marshawn Lynch seeing little action, had just 21 yards on six carries in the first half as the Seahawks struggled to mount much of a consistent push with either their starting or backup lines. Michael, though, came back with a few strong runs late in the game once reserves had taken over for both sides.
Allen Bradford appeared to take advantage of his chance to start at middle linebacker in place of the injured Bobby Wagner, making a team-high seven tackles in the first half.
Mike Morgan, starting at defensive end in place of the injured Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, got some consistent pressure early.
Free agent Alvin Bailey, working as the second-team left tackle, had some solid moments.
Other than Williams, though, no one stood out as much as defensive end Benson Mayowa, who made consecutive sacks on third down in the third quarter to stop San Diego drives. Mayowa, who played at Idaho, was signed by the Seahawks after a rookie tryout camp in May and has steadily worked his way up the depth chart.
Impressive outings by reserves helped make up for what was some sluggish play early by some of the front-line players.
The Seattle starting offense played just two series and didn’t do much, gaining a first down each time before being then forced to punt.
Wilson was 2 of 6 passing for 23 yards and was high on two throws on third down. Seattle’s starters gained 42 yards on their 12 plays.
Seattle got its lone first-half score when a Byron Maxwell interception and a San Diego personal foul gave the Seahawks the ball at the Chargers’ 14-yard line.
On third down from the 11, Quinn hit Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown.
Kearse, whose catch typified what has been a strong training camp, was left pretty much uncovered by the San Diego defense on the play.
The No. 1 defense was also in for two series and looked a little vulnerable on its first possession when Charger starting quarterback Philip Rivers hit 5 of 6 passes and led San Diego 74 yards.
The drive, however, stalled at the 11 and the Chargers settled for a 28-yard Nick Novak field goal.
More special-teams play helped the Seahawks break the game open in the third quarter.
A 41-yard punt return by Walter Thurmond – who said this week he would like the chance to take that job full time – led to a 22-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs to put Seattle ahead 10-3.
A 19-yard punt return by Will Blackmon set up the Seahawks at midfield later in the quarter and on third down, Jackson hit Williams down the sideline for 41 yards to set up a 6-yard TD by Ware to make it 17-3.
Seattle will play its second exhibition game Saturday at CenturyLink Field against the Denver Broncos at 7 p.m.
The game marked the debut of Mike McCoy as the Chargers’ head coach.
Former Notre Dame star Manti Te’o also made his NFL debut at inside linebacker for San Diego.
He had no tackles in the two series he played.
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