Curry stars in Seahawks’ 31-21 win over Raiders
SEATTLE – Yes, Aaron Curry is ready for the real season.
Seattle’s prized fourth overall draft pick took advantage of being the only starter on the field Thursday night. He made four tackles, two for losses, hit Oakland quarterbacks twice, then sacked one and forced a fumble to set up a field goal. And that was just in the first half.
Curry’s surge was the Seahawks’ most important development in their 31-21 victory over the Raiders.
Seattle and new coach Jim Mora, coming off a 4-12 season, finished 4-0 in the preseason for the first time in its 34-year history.
Of course, the Detroit Lions did the same thing last summer – and then became the NFL’s first 0-16 team.
Oakland finished the preseason 1-3.
The Seahawks had 12 starters skip the meaningless exhibition in the name of preservation. That included every defender except Curry. The former Wake Forest star needed to learn and progress after signing late and then missing one preseason game with an injury.
The dynamic outside linebacker, whom Seattle gave a whopping $34 million guaranteed last month, announced his readiness for the opener Sept. 13 against St. Louis late in the first half. He sped untouched around left end and hit quarterback Bruce Gradkowski just as he was about to throw. Nick Reed, a far-less-ballyhooed rookie, scooped up the fumble and returned it 16 yards to the Oakland 14.
That set up a 24-yard field goal by Olindo Mare. The veteran kicker also boomed a kickoff 5 yards into the end zone for a touchback, recalling his strength from last season, then sent another bounding over the head of a returner for a second touchback. The 36-year-old Mare, who made 89 percent of his field goals last season, is in a battle with 2008 draft choice Brandon Coutu for the kicking job.
Coutu’s kickoffs reached the 7 and the 5, the latter following a 44-yard touchdown pass by soon-to-be released fourth-stringer Jeff Rowe to Logan Payne that made it 31-7 in the third quarter.
The Raiders used each of their first-team units for just one series. Injured middle linebacker Kirk Morrison (left elbow) and All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sat out. Asomugha, with a cast on his left wrist, isn’t expected to miss the opener against San Diego on Sept. 14.
The first play for Oakland’s starting offense was a reminder of Saturday’s embarrassing, 38-point loss at home to New Orleans, when the starters got their most extensive time of the preseason. Backed up to his own 8, JaMarcus Russell was sacked by linebacker David Hawthorne. After a 4-yard run by Darren McFadden and an 4-yard dump-off pass to Michael Bush, the starters were done.
So much for redeeming themselves. But, hey, at least they left healthy and with the game scoreless.
Russell, the first overall pick in 2007, went 26 for 39 passing with one touchdown in the preseason.
Seattle’s starting offense, still without injured left tackle Walter Jones and center Chris Spencer, also played just one series. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who missed nine games last season with a bad back, never had a chance to get hit. He handed off five times then departed.
Two of those runs were by Edgerrin James, who saw his first Seahawks action in place of resting Julius Jones. The NFL’s leading active rusher with 12,121 yards, signed last month as a free agent, ran behind right tackle Ray Willis and fullback Justin Griffith for four yards and seven yards on the game’s first two plays.
James flashed a thumbs-up sign to the sidelines and stayed in the game after getting a first down.
Third-string rookie Mike Teel was 11 of 19 for 148 yards and two touchdowns, with backup Seneca Wallace also resting. The first score was to rookie third-round pick Deon Butler on a 22-yard catch and run in the first quarter, past flailing defenders Justin Miller and Darrick Brown.
Louis Rankin, a former running back at the University of Washington trying to make the Raiders’ roster after a rookie season on their practice squad, ran 45 yards for a touchdown to briefly tie it at 7.
Teel’s other touchdown of the half was Ben Obomanu’s impressive, reaching catch while toeing the sideline in the end zone for a 38-yard score.
Veteran Jeff Garcia briefly replaced Russell and was 3 for 6 for 12 yards. Gradkowski was 6 for 10 for 75 yards.
Seahawks 31, Raiders 21
Oakland 7 0 0 14 – 21
Seattle 7 10 14 0 – 31
Sea-Butler 22 pass from Teel (Mare kick), 8:13.
Oak-Rankin 45 run (Janikowski kick), 7:08.
Sea-Obomanu 38 pass from Teel (Mare kick), 2:13.
Sea-FG Mare 24, :14.
Sea-Moore 1 run (Coutu kick), 6:41.
Sea-Payne 44 pass from Rowe (Coutu kick), 3:44.
Oak-G.Russell 6 run (Schmitt kick), 7:11.
Oak-G.Russell 2 run (Schmitt kick), :17.
First downs 18 19
Total Net Yards 277 345
Rushes-yards 24-144 39-134
Passing 133 211
Punt Returns 3-22 5-27
Kickoff Returns 4-123 3-55
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 15-27-0 13-22-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-16 0-0
Punts 8-38.1 8-42.6
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-85 12-144
Time of Possession 27:15 32:45
RUSHING-Oakland, Rankin 6-60, G.Russell 12-59, Gradkowski 2-12, Frye 2-6, McFadden 1-4, Garcia 1-3. Seattle, Moore 22-75, Forsett 12-42, James 2-11, Rowe 3-6.
PASSING-Oakland, Gradkowski 6-10-0-75, Frye 5-10-0-58, Garcia 3-6-0-12, J.Russell 1-1-0-4. Seattle, Teel 11-19-0-148, Rowe 2-3-0-63.
RECEIVING-Oakland, Watkins 2-46, Holland 2-26, Myers 2-20, Rankin 2-18, G.Russell 2-15, Lawton 2-4, Stewart 1-8, Walker 1-8, Bush 1-4. Seattle, Forsett 3-22, Payne 2-63, Obomanu 2-58, Butler 2-45, Kent 1-9, Taylor 1-9, Morrah 1-3, Hass 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.
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