As this was the first preseason game after unusual offseason, the primary focus was on the team’s intensity, execution and overall mindset.
But this game still came with meaning. The night before, the team dedicated this game to the young guys. The veterans giving pearls of wisdom to ease some of the jitters, Carroll simply wanting his team to battle in their first game as a unit together.
Carroll to the media on Saturday, "It's fun to get a win. But better than that, it was fun to see our guys play hard and play the kind of football we needed to play to get started."
Now, if the Seahawks had lost, Pete Carroll would surely find the positives to build on. But the Seahawks were able to endure a legitimate situation in preseason game one. On the road, up seven with three minutes to go and defending your end zone, "always compete" says compete your hardest.
Here, it doesn't matter third string versus third string. The second and third string are who the veterans were playing this game for, at least in Seattle.
The win is secondary. The fourth-and-goal stop with the second and third unit on the field to win the game is what matters.
It's the kind of ball they "needed to play to get started" because the depth is competitive. As the game wore on, the Seahawks started to play better. In the third quarter, the Tom Cable mentality was kicking in for a veteran second unit offensive line. The defense closed it out.
The Seahawks won the time of possession battle by more than 11 minutes, had 43 rushing attempts compared to 18 for San Diego, won the first down battle 22 to 10 and the red-zone conversion battle.
They played a basic version of the new Seahawks football. A power running game, complemented by movement and play action passes, they took some unsuccessful shots downfield but hit the tight ends down the seams and in the red zone. The defense stopped the run, created opportunities and didn't break when it mattered most.
A grind it out win on the road to open the preseason may seem meaningless. But a program predicated on competition and "buying in" can only be as solid as the depth. The Seahawks' defense blanketed the field on the Chargers' final play. Not to mention, the depth is among the youngest in the league.
This is the type of win Pete Carroll can use with his young players. A muscle-memory to put into the tool box for a future Saturday night speech, regardless of the fact that it's the preseason and the wins don't count.
The Seahawks started 2011 as they hoped, heading into the preseason home opener after a competitive victory, already looking like a deeper and more athletic team than they did in 2010.