The Gates of Hell: Seahawks burned in the heat of San Diego

Antonio Gates catches a TD pass over K.J. Wright in the second half (AP)
Antonio Gates catches a TD pass over K.J. Wright in the second half (AP)

The Seahawks have seen the Gates of Hell.

He’s a 34-year-old tight end who seems perpetually injured but who still finds ways to burn opponents.

On a scorching Sunday in San Diego, Antonio Gates caught fire — and three touchdown passes — against a Seattle defense that appeared ill-prepared for the heat and the physical pounding the Chargers’ offense put on it in San Diego’s 30-21 win.

The Seattle defense — so good at stopping tight ends last season — apparently forgot the formula in the San Diego heat.  Last postseason alone, the Hawks held Jimmy Graham to one catch for eight yards, Vernon Davis to two receptions for 16 yards and Julius Thomas to four for 27.

But Gates, who was hindered by a hamstring injury all week, caught seven passes for 96 yards and scored against linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright and safety Kam Chancellor.

It was the first time Gates had caught three TD passes since a 28-20 win over Kansas City in 2005.

“He definitely capitalized on every opportunity he had,” Chancellor told reporters. “He showed why he is (a five-time) All-Pro tight end. He also has a good quarterback that looks to him and knows him and his timing. They have the quarterback/tight end bond. He is a crafty tight end.”

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Young lions: Seahawks passed on Attaochu, so is Irvin their future LEO?

Irvin and Attaochu

The Seahawks had three big needs entering the draft last May. They satisfied two in the second round, drafting wide receiver Paul Richardson 45th overall after trading out of the 32nd spot and selecting right tackle Justin Britt with the final pick.

The one position they did not address was LEO — their top pass-rushing spot. It’s not like they didn’t have a chance, though, and they will see one guy they could have had when they play Jerry Attaochu and the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Continue reading Young lions: Seahawks passed on Attaochu, so is Irvin their future LEO?

Chawk lines 75 pct

Receiver Ricardo Lockette has been a hot topic this week.  “He’s come so far from where he was,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says in features from Curtis Crabtree and Clare Farnsworth. And here’s audio of Lockette on 710 ESPN.

Rookie wide receiver Kevin Norwood is “really competing to get on the game-day roster,” per a report by Crabtree.

Bryan Walters talks to 710 ESPN about getting the chance to return punts.

Bob Condotta relates the humorous tale of how Justin Britt became a right tackle way back when.

“He has a movie-star smile, but he’ll bite you with those white teeth,” Ken Norton says of Bobby Wagner in a feature by Jerry Brewer of the Times.

Field Gulls reveals the Seattle defense’s secret to covering four deep routes.

Field Gulls also takes a look at how the Seahawks’ power running game excelled vs. Green Bay.

All you need to know about the jet sweep

Jet sweep
Field Gulls breakdown of the jet sweep the Seahawks ran against Green Bay.

In 2012, the Seahawks added a dynamic player with unique traits and eventually found a way to take advantage of them: Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson lit up the league with the zone read option in the last few weeks of the season.

This year, the Hawks have another new player with stellar abilities, and they already know how to use him.

OK, so Percy Harvin isn’t really new — he was acquired last year — but a hip injury limited him to just a few plays all season so this is really the first time he has been healthy and used to full effect. He showed off his skills impressively in the season-opening 36-16 win over Green Bay.

Now everyone is talking about the Seahawks’ use of the jet sweep — i.e., “The Percy Harvin play.”

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Seahawks seem to have all of the advantages

Chargers McCoy
Chargers coach Mike McCoy (Getty Images)

If the Seahawks don’t beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday — perhaps handily — it will be a huge surprise. After all, how many advantages can one team have over another?

Shall we count the ways?

1 — The Seahawks saw the Chargers’ personnel in the preseason, during a 41-14 demolition, and we saw what happened the last time the Hawks played a preseason opponent during the season: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 in the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks blew out the Broncos in the preseason last year, too, and they used that game to familiarize themselves with the Broncos’ personnel. (The Broncos have to really be looking forward to coming to Seattle next week.)

The Hawks did the same thing with the Chargers this preseason.

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Maxwell: ‘I take it as earning my keep’

Hawks vs Packers MaxwellByron Maxwell says he is just “earning my keep” as the cornerback who gets targeted most while playing opposite Richard Sherman.

In the season opener, Sherman was avoided by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who instead threw it Maxwell’s way all game. He didn’t have too much more success as Maxwell shut down the big plays and ended up with an interception — making Rodgers and the Packers pay for picking on him all game.

But Maxwell is not offended by all of that action. He knows Sherman has proven himself as perhaps the best corner in the game, so it follows that teams will look Maxwell’s way more often.

“I take it as earning my keep,” he told 710 ESPN.

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Seahawks are passing through gauntlet of NFL’s top-rated QBs

Rivers and Manning

Plenty has been made of the fact that Russell Wilson is undefeated against the best quarterbacks in the league over his first two-plus seasons: Aaron Rodgers (twice), Drew Brees (twice), Peyton Manning, Tom Brady.

But who is largely responsible for him beating those quarterbacks? Seattle’s defense, of course.

The Hawks, who beat Brees, Colin Kaepernick and Manning last postseason as they claimed the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, face a trio of the best QBs to start this season as well: Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Manning.

Rodgers, Manning and Rivers are the three top-rated active quarterbacks in the NFL (Brady and Brees are fourth and sixth), and they are 1-2-4 in NFL history (Steve Young ranks third, ahead of Rivers). These guys are so good they basically run their offenses, calling plays in their fast-paced, no-huddle schemes.

If you look at it from what we saw last week, this week and next week against Denver, we’re seeing very similar expertise,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The guys really understand the game to such great depth that their coaches have recognized that and given them the opportunity to run the game at the line of scrimmage.

“They get to utilize their strengths by seeing what they want to see, changing what they need to change,” Carroll said, “so I think we’re as challenged as you can get by the level of play by these guys. There is no drop-off and it’s amazing that we see three terrific quarterbacks right in a row.”

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San Diego conjures lots of memories for Wilson

Rivers, Wilson and Qualcomm
Philip Rivers and Harrison Wilson III, father of Russell Wilson (Getty and Dartmouth Athletics)

As the Seahawks get set to play their first real game in San Diego since 2002 — the year they returned to the NFC West after 25 years in the AFC West with the Chargers — it’s almost like homecoming weekend for Russell Wilson, too.

Seattle’s third-year quarterback is heading back to the place where his dad flirted with an NFL career, and he also will be facing the quarterback who set the standard at North Carolina State a few years before Wilson shot to stardom there.

“For me,” Wilson said, “it’s a special thing to get to go back there to Qualcomm Stadium and play in that stadium.”

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Earl Thomas: You can sleep easy for now, selfish fans

Hawks vs Packers Thomas drops punt
Earl Thomas fails to call for a fair catch in traffic during a punt. He ended up fumbling. (Getty Images)

Plenty of media and fans expressed misgivings about Earl Thomas returning punts, so they had to be happy when coach Pete Carroll took Thomas off those duties this week in the wake of a disastrous season opener.

Thomas fumbled the ball on one return and did not seem very instinctive about judging whether to call for fair catches. Carroll said he thought the return duties were distracting from Thomas’ duties as the team’s defensive quarterback at free safety, so he is putting Bryan Walters in as the returner.

Thomas responded to the move Thursday and ripped fans who didn’t want him returning punts.

“Fans can kind of sleep easier now,” he said. “They can stop sending their regards in. They were a little bit selfish in my perspective.”

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Like NFL, Carroll admits Rice video changed his view of domestic abuse

As Roger Goodell and the NFL try feverishly to dig out of the dirty hole that is the Ray Rice domestic-violence case, at least something positive has come out of the fiasco: That video of Rice knocking out his fiancée has made everyone understand just how horrific domestic abuse is and perhaps how lightly the NFL has viewed it over the years.

“Unfortunately, we had to see an incident that elevated our awareness to really get to the right place,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “It’s unfortunate we have to learn the hard way.”

It seems crazy that people did not understand what Rice had done until they actually saw the second video. What possibly could have been the precursor to the first video, in which he is seen dragging an unconscious Janay Palmer out of the elevator? Rice admitted he hit her, which is why he was charged, placed into a diversion program and suspended by Goodell.

But that second video sent shockwaves through the NFL and for some reason changed the way everyone viewed domestic violence.

Continue reading Like NFL, Carroll admits Rice video changed his view of domestic abuse