SEATTLE — Let it be noted for the sake of posterity that with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter Sunday, on a sunny-but-blustery Sept. 25, 2011, the Seattle Seahawks’ offense looked … competent? Efficient? Well-orchestrated?
For it was at that moment in time that quarterback Tarvaris Jackson squeezed into the end zone, valiantly absorbing the slings and arrows of much larger defensive players, to finish an 11-yard run and score something known as a touchdown.
It was the first such touchdown in nearly seven quarters of football for Seattle. It was the only such touchdown the Seahawks would need in a 13-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. And it came at the end of a 14-play, 72-yard drive that consumed 6:00 of clock time.
There was a third-and-2 pass for 3 yards to Doug Baldwin. And a third-and-1 run for 3 yards by Marshawn Lynch. And a third-and-15 pass for 20 yards to Baldwin.
There was composure and execution and — dare we say it — protection for the quarterback. Those are things that happen often for some teams. Those are things that Seattle’s first three games have been devoid of.
“A fantastic drive for us,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He gets the touchdown on that run, he just gave it up at the goal line. That’s who he is. He’s a very, very tough, competitive kid.”
He better be. Because Jackson is going to take a beating this season — literally and figuratively. If it’s not opposing linemen pounding on him, it’s his home fans, who were quick to boo on Sunday.
Mind you, they weren’t booing Jackson exclusively. They were booing the play calls. And the offensive line. And the botched punts that went for 28 yards and 9 yards.
But as the new kid on the block, arriving in Seattle after five seasons in Minnesota, Jackson is under the most scrutiny.
“I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me. I have a lot of people to win over; probably never will win them over.
“If they keep booing and we keep winning, I don’t care.”
Ahhh, the crux of outrageous fortune. If the Seahawks keep winning, Jackson doesn’t mind the boos.
Thanks to the defense, they won against Arizona. Seattle kept the Cardinals scoreless for the final 37 minutes. It kept the wondrous Larry Fitzgerald receptionless for the final 33 minutes. It held Arizona to less than 100 yards rushing.
It played a gritty, physical game, carrying the weight of the franchise’s hopes on its shoulders. But if the offensive line doesn’t improve quickly, that weight will overwhelm the defense. Jackson was treated like a pinball throughout the game — and not just on his touchdown run.
“He’s taking way more hits than you’d like,” Carroll said. “We haven’t protected him the way we need to, and we’ll get it done. We’re going to improve there, but he’s getting banged way too much.”
Yes, there was improvement from the previous week. After entering the game ranked last in the league with an average of 47.5 rushing yards per game, Seattle ran for 122 against the Cardinals. So, the run blocking had improved.
But for long stretches of the contest, the only way Jackson could get a pass off was on a designed bootleg or roll-out.
The Seahawks converted just enough of those to win, even scoring a touchdown along the way. It might eventually be viewed as a historic moment.
Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at email@example.com. To “Like” his Facebook page, search for “Greg Jayne - The Columbian”