In April, experts lauded what Seattle did in the 2010 National Football League Draft. Sunday, Seattle showed why.
Facing a do-or-die fourth-and-fifteen from Seattle’s 17-yard line with just 15 seconds remaining in the game, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers looked for wide receiver Legedu Naanee near the goal line in what would have been the potentially game-tying touchdown; however, safety Earl Thomas had other plans. The 5-foot-10, 202-pound rookie taken in the first round of April’s Draft dashed the Chargers’ last-second hopes with a diving interception, his second on the day, as Seattle preserved a 27-20 victory over San Diego.
The win keeps Seattle (2-1) tied atop the NFC West with Arizona, while the Chargers (1-2) remain in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC West.
After falling behind by 17 points early in the second half, San Diego went on a 20-3 run spanning the third and fourth quarters in what seemed like a come-from-behind victory in the making. That’s to say, until another Seattle draft-day acquisition, like the safety Thomas, made his presence felt a second time.
Midway through the fourth quarter, kick return specialist Leon Washington snatched the ball off the ground from his one-yard line and took off. Passing the 20, the first-year Seahawk acquired in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets, ran into a logjam of Chargers and fellow Seahawks at the Seattle 25-yard line, but was able to bounce off the pack and make would-be tackler Nate Kaeding miss. With no one left in front of him, Washington finished off a 99-yard return for the go-ahead score with 6:24 remaining in the game.
The touchdown was his second of the day.
His first was just as electric and even more noteworthy. Opening the second half, Washington took a kick two yards into his end zone and exploited a gaping hole opened up by his blockers between his 15- and 20-yard lines and scampered 101 yards down field for the touchdown that put his name in the Seahawks’ record book. The return is the longest in the franchise’s history. An Olindo Mare extra point put Seattle up 17-0 13 seconds into the third quarter.
Washington’s two-touchdown performance Sunday comes less than a year after breaking his right leg while still a member of the Jets in a Week Seven matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers also made history, recording a career-high in passing yards with 455 while also throwing two touchdowns. Seattle’s rookie safety, Earl Thomas, accounted for both of Rivers’ interceptions.
Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck completed 19 of 32 passing attempts for 220 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
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