OAKLAND, Calif. — On a night when the starters for both teams spent most of the night on the sideline, Seattle running back Thomas Rawls made a big statement by getting on the field for only a few plays.
Rawls carried twice for 8 yards in his first game in more than eight months since breaking his ankle and the Seahawks finished the preseason by beating the Oakland Raiders 23-21 on Thursday night.
“The fact that he got in there for a few plays, he got knocked a couple times, it’s fantastic,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s an incredible comeback. He’s worked so hard to get this done and I’m just so happy for him.”
Ryan Robinson returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown and Troymaine Pope and Alex Collins ran for scores in the fourth quarter to lead the Seahawks to the win.
But Rawls’ performance was the most noteworthy as he proved he is ready to play in the season opener on Sept. 11 and seize the starting job vacated when Marshawn Lynch retired.
“I think it was important a little bit. Maybe a confidence boost,” Rawls said. “Even if I didn’t play I think I still would have been fine but I’m glad I got a chance to get out here with my teammates and contribute.”
With most of Seattle’s starters only playing one series and the bulk of Oakland’s first-stringers sitting out the entire game, there was little star power on the field.
The first touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on the third turnover in a five-play span. After George Atkinson III and Trevone Boykin traded fumbles, Oakland rookie quarterback Connor Cook was pressured on a rollout. Robinson stepped in front of the pass and returned it for the score that made it 9-8.
“That’s completely on me,” Cook said. “I have to see that and ditch it. It has to be thrown at his feet or thrown out of bounds, don’t try and be a hero.”
Oakland defensive lineman Denico Autry had a sack, five tackles for loss and a pass defensed. Autry also teamed with James Cowser to get pressure on Boykin in the end zone leading to an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety and the only points in the first half.
Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane joined Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest. Lane sat on the Seattle bench while the rest of his teammates stood during the anthem before the game. Lane said he did not tell any of his teammates of his plans before the game and that he will continue to do it until he feels “justice has been served.”
“I don’t mean no disrespect toward anybody, but I’m just standing behind what I believe,” Lane said.
Seahawks: Boykin was 7 for 15 for 72 yards passing as he showed a good ability to escape pressure and extend plays. He also ran for 24 yards on four carries.
Raiders: Cook got his most extensive time of the preseason, coming in at the start of the second quarter in place of Matt McGloin. Cook went 15 for 30 for 145 yards and one interception.
Seahawks: Rookie CB DeAndre Elliott was taken to the locker room on a cart in the second half with an undisclosed injury.
Raiders: OL Austin Howard limped off the field in the second quarter after rolling his ankle and didn’t return. Del Rio said he doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
Seahawks: Garry Gilliam and J’Marcus Webb rotated at right tackle as Seattle waits to determine who will start when the season begins.
Raiders: Rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard once again got extensive time as they compete to be Latavius Murray’s backup. Washington ran for 14 yards on 11 carries and caught four passes for 39 yards. Richard had three carries for 10 yards and one catch for 7 yards.
Seahawks: “I just like what he’s doing and I’m standing behind him,” Lane said of his relationship with Kaepernick.
Raiders: “A little up and down. He certainly finished on a high note with the big kickoff return,” coach Jack Del Rio on Atkinson’s performance after a lost fumble, dropped TD pass, touchdown run and kickoff return for a score.