Seattle’s third preseason game — the one that most resembles the real thing — definitely looked like the real thing Thursday.
As usually happens during the season, the offense and defense started slowly and then found their grooves and pulled away — beating Dallas 27-17.
Russell Wilson and the offense were out of sync early — missing a few pass plays, running inconsistently, having snap issues, committing penalties. And Darrell Bevell didn’t help by calling a couple of his favorite bubble screens — Doug Baldwin gained three yards total on both plays.
But the offense did finally get on the board for the first time this preseason — Wilson hitting Paul Richardson on a short touchdown pass after they had secured a field goal in the first half and then finding Tyler Lockett on a scramble play in the third quarter.
The defense gave up 80 rushing yards in the first half, as Dallas first-round running back Ezekiel Elliott shined in his debut. He and Kam Chancellor, also making his 2016 debut, had three collisions in two series — and the rookie did not back down from the hard-hitting safety or the rest of Seattle’s aggressive defense.
While the run was a big test — Dallas has the best line in the NFL and also has a great No. 2 back in Alfred Morris — the Hawks knocked Tony Romo out of the game on the third play and faced rookie Dak Prescott the rest of the way.
Here’s what else we saw, by position:
QUARTERBACK: After a slow start, Wilson got it going and finished with a big night. He ended up completing 16 of 21 passes for 192 yards and two short touchdowns — a perfect backside corner TD pass to Richardson and a scramble score to Lockett. Wilson still is bailing from the pocket too early at times and isn’t totally in sync with his receivers, but his two scramble plays to Lockett (one setting up Richardson’s score) were vintage DangeRuss.
RUNNING BACK: Christine Michael once again had a big night, gaining 58 yards on seven runs. He made some great cuts and ran with great “poise,” as Pete Carroll said. C.J. Prosise finally made his debut and tallied 23 yards on four runs. He did not see any action in the passing game — something he is expected to do as the season gets going — but he showed early signs of what Carroll sees in him. Alex Collins seems to lead the battle for the fourth tailback spot, although George Farmer made it into the game before him. Collins gained 19 yards on three attempts. Will Tukuafu made his 2016 debut, just a few days after signing, and caught a pass. If the Hawks don’t end up keeping him, it will be interesting to see what they do at fullback.
WIDE RECEIVER: Baldwin led the team with four catches, but Richardson and Lockett were the stars — and are big reasons Baldwin is not likely to repeat his 2015 season. But what a trio that should be, with the ever-improved Jermaine Kearse as the fourth guy. The Hawks probably will keep just one other receiver — and Tanner McEvoy is the one guy who has stood out late in every game. This time he actually played some tight end and gained 43 yards on a pass from Wilson. His versatility might be what makes him the No. 5 receiver, although he apparently tweaked a groin in the game.
TIGHT END: Jimmy Graham worked in full uniform before the game and apparently had a great workout — a nice sign that he could be ready for the opener Sept. 11. Brandon Williams had his best game, catching two passes and being very active on special teams as well. He seems to be a near lock as the No. 4 tight end, especially with Graham coming back slowly and Nick Vannett injured.
OFFENSIVE LINE: J’Marcus Webb got his first action and seemed to play quite well at both tackle spots. The Seahawks ran it really well when he flipped to left tackle in the third quarter. The big surprise of the preseason has been the solid play of the line, with the interior trio of Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt and Germain Ifedi providing an excellent wall and the tackles playing well enough to think the Hawks might be able to move the ball decently early in the season. It looks more and more like Garry Gilliam will stay at right tackle z and Webb could end up at left tackle. The fourth preseason game probably will play a big part in deciding that.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Cliff Avril was the standout on this unit, from his hit on Romo to his 1.5 sacks to his pursuit. Tony McDaniel once again looked excellent — he was in on five tackles. He sure seems like a great bet to make the team and play a lot. Jordan Hill finally played, although he didn’t make any impact plays. Tough to do when he has been out almost all camp. Quinton Jefferson did make some plays, though, assisting on three tackles. This unit seems pretty set — and has lots of versatility.
LINEBACKER: Bobby Wagner was all over the place from the start, perhaps buoyed by the return of Chancellor. Wagner tied for the team lead with seven stops. K.J. Wright somehow gave up Dallas’ first touchdown, even though he had perfect coverage on Jason Witten. How did he not make the pick?
SECONDARY: Chancellor and Thomas were all over the place, and Kelcie McCray tied Wagner with a team-high seven tackles. Jeremy Lane and Tyvis Powell also looked good — the rookie had four tackles, made another good special-teams stop and lined up at corner in the fourth. With Marcus Burley injured, Tye Smith and Tharold Simon played a lot in the second half. Burley could end up being the odd man out here.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jon Ryan has been unbelievable this preseason — you just have to hope he is not using up all of his 60-yard punts before the season starts. Steven Hauschka hit another long field goal and now has five kicks from 49 yards or more this preseason. Snapper Nolan Frese continues to be erratic though — the Hawks might end up having to make a move there.