A nation of eager football fans looked forward to the exhibition debut of the new and improved Seattle Seahawks, the franchise that experts deemed had the best off-season.
They are still waiting.
During Saturday’s 28-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Hall of Fame game, the first-team defense surrendered 116 yards and a touchdown in a brief 14-play cameo. Quarterback John Friesz opened with an underthrown interception on a deep toss to Joey Galloway. And the kickoff coverage teams made Robert Tate, an unknown Vikings sixth-round choice, look like Desmond Howard with 169 yards on five attempts.
“It’s like any preseason game, there were some good things and some things that weren’t so good for us,” Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson said. “We’ve got to improve and find what areas we need to get better at. We looked awful sluggish. We’ve been practicing 11 straight days.”
Were it not for the second-half arms of quarterbacks Jon Kitna and Gino Torretta, the Vikings would have blown out the Seahawks. Kitna completed 14 consecutive passes and put 16 points on the scoreboard while Torretta, who completed 10 of 16 passes, drove the Seahawks 78 yards in the final minutes to make it a close game.
While Erickson can be pleased to see his third-string quarterbacks in a fight to make the team, this week’s practices in Cheney will have to concentrate on eliminating numerous mental errors on offense and defense.
For 14 plays, Erickson was right - the first-team defense was awful and sluggish.
Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson opened the game by using the 6-inch height advantage his receivers held over 5-foot-9 Seahawks cornerbacks Willie Williams and Fred Thomas. Williams did well, allowing only a seven-yard completion to Cris Carter to the Seattle 3-yard line.
But Thomas didn’t make fans forget that taller Shawn Springs was the Seahawks’ top pick. On the first play of the game, Jake Reed, who is 6-3, beat Thomas for a 21-yard gain. Despite driving to the Seahawks’ 26, the Vikings didn’t score because kicker Scott Sisson was short on a 49-yard field goal.
The next series was ugly. The Vikings, starting from their 24 following Corey Fuller’s interception of the underthrown Friesz pass, advanced 37 yards on a Carter reception over Thomas. Then Reed got behind Thomas for a 10-yard touchdown.
At least the Seahawks have five exhibition games to experiment before the regular-season opener against the New York Jets. Seventy-five percent of their secondary and 45 percent of their starting defense is new.
Johnson completed 7 of 8 passes against the starters for 82 yards, and the run defense allowed 34 yards on seven carries.
“It takes you the first couple plays sometimes to get hit in the mouth before you get going,” linebacker Chad Brown said. “You don’t get a chance to get back after two series. You want more. Everybody will be really hungry next week trying to get better.”
The intention was to play the starters two series and then call in the reserves. Friesz felt as though he barely worked. Instead of throwing a 15-yard intermediate route to Mike Pritchard, Friesz went for the bomb to Galloway.
The bomb exploded in his face when Fuller and free safety Robert Griffith were in better position to catch it than Galloway.
In the next two series, Friesz was sacked, hit as he threw an incompletion and completed 3 of 6 passes for 29 yards.
The game-winning touchdown pass came when cornerback T.J. Cunningham tipped a pass into the hands of running back Moe Williams, who raced 65 yards for a score with 7:21 left in the game.
Packers 20, Dolphins 0
Green Bay lost halfback Edgar Bennett for the season with a torn Achilles tendon in its win over visiting Miami.
Bennett was injured on an 18-yard run on the Packers’ second possession. His loss leaves Dorsey Levens as Green Bay’s primary rusher.
The game was the first played on the new hybrid surface called SportGrass, a concoction of sand, plastic matting and grass that drains better than the old grass-and-sand surface but which might not be as soft.
Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who signed a contract extension on Friday reportedly worth up to $48 million over seven years, completed 4 of 6 passes for 76 yards in limited duty.
Broncos 31, Bills 10
Jeff Lewis threw for a touchdown and scrambled for one to lead host Denver over Buffalo.
Buffalo quarterbacks Todd Collins and Billy Joe Hobert turned in passable but unspectacular performances for the Bills, who are playing without Jim Kelly for the first time since 1985.
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