SEATTLE — On a sometimes breezy, sometimes wet night that felt like football season, the core of the Seahawks looked ready for the real games to begin, then took a long rest and watched their understudies secure a 22-6 win over the Oakland Raiders.
The win in front of 67,341 at CenturyLink Field was the ninth straight exhibition victory for Seattle, which has now gone 4-0 in the exhibition season three times in five years — 2009, 2012 and 2013.
“I was really fired up that our guys played hard all four times,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We are ready to go. We are ready to go for the season coming up.”
Certainly, the starters looked the part.
The offense took the opening kickoff and moved 80 yards in six plays in 3:02 to make it quickly 7-0, the score coming on a three-yard run by Robert Turbin.
The key play was a 50-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Stephen Williams, the fifth long reception of the exhibition season for the free agent receiver.
In one of the few down notes of the night for Seattle, however, Williams hit his head on the turf and suffered a concussion and did not return. Carroll noted that Williams had suffered a head injury during a scrimmage earlier in camp so they erred on the side of caution in holding him out the rest of the game.
Wilson was 3 of 3 for 68 yards and also had one run for 11 yards and finished the exhibition season completing 24 of 38 passes for 344 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The defense then forced a three-and-out of the Raiders and then headed to the sideline.
“We accomplished exactly what we hoped to accomplish with the first groups,” Carroll said.
The starters’ early exit meant lots of audition time for players hoping to hone their roles on the team, or those on the bubble of making the final 53-man roster. The results were mostly positive.
One early standout was rookie tight end Luke Willson, whose spot on the team was already secured and showed why as he caught four passes for 45 yards.
Walter Thurmond, battling for the nickelback spot with Antoine Winfield, turned in a highlight-reel interception and also had a 29-yard punt return to set up a score, capping an offseason in which he finally stayed healthy and made the impact the team has long expected.
Defensive end Benson Mayowa, who wasn’t signed until after a rookie tryout in May, had a sack and forced a fumble. Allen Bradford, attempting to earn a spot as a backup middle linebacker, led the Seahawks with eight tackles and a recovered fumble.
And Tarvaris Jackson, who appears to have won the backup quarterback job, completed 12 of 17 passes for 119 yards.
Conversely, receiver Chris Harper, a fourth-round pick who has had a quiet exhibition season, blew a chance to turn in a big play when he dropped a touchdown pass in the second quarter. He then dropped another in the fourth quarter.
The performances are the last the brass will have to consider as it now faces the task of paring the roster from the current 75 to the NFL regular-season limit of 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m.
Carroll said it will be particularly difficult since this is “the best roster that we’ve had here, the most competitive depth.”
Those decisions will be much more dramatic than Thursday’s game.
The Seahawks dominated the first half in taking a 16-6 halftime lead, outgaining the rebuilding Raiders 214-120.
After taking over for Wilson, Jackson led three scoring drives in the first half that all ended in field goals by Steven Hauschka, who had five field goals on the night.
Three of Hauschka’s field goals were from 51 yards or longer. He was 1-4 on field goals 50 or longer last season, with a long of 52.
“He had a great night,” Carroll said.
Oakland’s only scores came on two field goals in the first half by Justin Medlock on drives led by quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State star who got the start in place of former Seahawk Matt Flynn, who was resting with a sore arm.
After settling on their final roster, the Seahawks will then prepare to open the regular season Sept. 8 at Carolina, finally beginning what is one of the most anticipated seasons in team history.
An undefeated exhibition season did little to mute the excitement.