Leon Washington is a running back with the Seattle Seahawks, and also returns kickoffs. It’s a good thing he does the latter, after accounting for two long touchdowns, tying an NFL record, and was indispensable during the 27-20 win over San Diego last Sunday at QWest Field.
A former New York Jet, Washington was traded for a fifth-round pick this year after breaking his right leg. The Jets felt they didn’t need him, so shipping Washington was understandable.
But the show he put on was something any team could have used, including New York.
“I really truly appreciated the Jets for letting him go, sending him here for pretty much nothing,’’ said Seattle wide receiver Deion Branch, who had five receptions for 60 yards, with a long of 41 yards.
Washington’s team-record 101-yard return to begin the second half gave Seattle a 17-0 lead, and his 99-yard return with 6:25 showing in the fourth quarter was the difference.
No one put a hand on Washington, who had 252 yards via kickoffs, during the first score, while on the second touchdown two players laid a glove on him.
The Chargers (1-2) have been slow starters, and were again, rallying for all their points in the second half.
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s nine-yard toss to tight end John Carlson (61 yards and five catches) with just under two minutes remaining before the half made it 10-0.
Olindo Mare’s 23-yard field goal gave the Seahawks (2-1) a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter, and his 23-yard kick with 11:27 showing in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 20-12.
San Diego had three first-half fumbles, while the Seahawks began three drives in Chargers’ territory.
One-time USC head coach Pete Carroll has left the sunny sideline of Troy for the same position in the Pacific Northwest.
So far, Carroll’s done a solid job, even though the squad has been significantly turned over, which may be a good thing.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (29 of 53 for 455 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions) came in having thrown five scores with two interceptions.
The Seahawks’ Earl Thomas picked him off twice, including the game-sealer as the Chargers were knocking on the door, hoping to tie or win, and less than 10 seconds left.
Rivers connected with wide receiver Malcom Floyd (six receptions for 97 yards) on a three-yard scoring pass and 12:33 left in the third quarter.
Rivers found nine different receivers, including one-time Dallas Cowboy Patrick Crayton (57 yards and three catches), Buster Davis (82 yards and three receptions), and Legedu Naanee (53 yards and four catches).
The 80-yard, four-play drive that Floyd capped made it 17-7, and when Brandon Siler sacked Hasselbeck (19 of 32 for 220 yards with one touchdown and one interception) in the end zone for a safety in the third quarter, the Chargers were within eight points.
Nate Kaeding’s 29-yard field goal late in the third quarter climaxed a nine-play, 44-yard march, and put San Diego within 17-12.
When Rivers hooked up with tight end Antonio Gates (109 yards and seven receptions) on a 12-yard play and 6:36 showing in the final quarter, then spotting Naanee with the two-point conversion, it was tied at 20-20.
Rivers was clearly in rhythm during the 65-yard, nine-play drive, but couldn’t find the end zone late.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.