Tarvaris Jackson knew it wouldn’t be a comfortable situation stepping in for 10-year veteran Matt Hasselbeck, the face of the Seattle Seahawks for the majority of a decade.
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So when the boos started echoing early in the second quarter Sunday and the chants for his backup followed, Jackson wasn’t bothered.
That made the highlight he provided for all those fickle fans that much sweeter in a 13-10 victory over Arizona.
”Matt was here for a long time and did some great things here. (I’ve) got a lot of people to win over, probably never will win them over,” Jackson said. ”That’s not my … I can try but my whole thing is to come here and try and be the best I can be and get this team some wins and be a leader.
”If they keep booing and we keep winning, I don’t care.”
Jackson put Seattle in the lead with a bulldozing 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Seattle’s secondary shut down Larry Fitzgerald for the final 32 minutes and Kam Chancellor sealed the victory with an interception with 1:04 left.
Jackson made his regular-season home debut and saw his home fans alternate among cheers, boos and chants for backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
They were all screaming when Jackson bullied his way in on the go-ahead TD run in the third quarter, bowling over Arizona safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes at the goal line for the score. Yet they were back to booing Jackson minutes later when the Seahawks (1-2) bumbled a third-down snap and nearly fumbled deep in their end, saved only by Anthony McCoy’s quick reaction to jump on the loose ball.
Throughout it all, Jackson kept his perspective and while his play and numbers weren’t spectacular, he did enough to help Seattle avoid its first 0-3 start since 2002.
”I’ve been through a lot, man. It don’t even bother me no more,” Jackson said. ”It’s to a point now where you want to play for your fans and all that, but I’m playing for the guys in that huddle. I’m playing for the guys in that locker room.”
Jackson finished 18 of 31 for 171 yards. His only turnover came on a desperation throw at the end of the first half, and Jackson made an immediate connection with old friend Sidney Rice, making his Seattle debut.
Rice helped Seattle’s offense as a whole. He had eight catches for 109 yards after missing the first two games with an injured shoulder. Rice’s presence also made it easier for the Seahawks to run. Seattle finished with 122 yards rushing after gaining just 95 combined in the first two weeks.
Marshawn Lynch finished with 73 yards on 19 carries.
They also owe a big thanks to Seattle’s defense.
The Seahawks managed to pull a disappearing act on Fitzgerald, who tortured them in the past. Fitzgerald entered Sunday with 88 career receptions against Seattle and nine touchdowns.
And he added another TD with a highlight reel catch in the second quarter, leaping above safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Brandon Browner to haul in a 12-yard TD pass as Kevin Kolb retreated from pressure. Fitzgerald caught a wide receiver screen later in the second quarter, then was shut out the rest of the game.
”There were a couple miscommunications, but that happens sometimes. Obviously, we need to clean that up,” Fitzgerald said. ”This is a tough place to play. You have to tip your hat to Seattle. They played very hard, they played strong. They had a good defensive scheme, they got some pressure on us. They caused us some commotion back there.”
Seattle almost squandered its lead late. Along with McCoy’s fumble recovery, Jon Ryan shanked a 9-yard punt with 2:57 left when Seattle had a chance to pin the Cardinals deep in their end. Coach Pete Carroll decided for the punt instead of a long field goal from Steven Hauschka, who hit from 30 and 52 yards earlier in the game.
From the 31, the Cardinals move into Seahawks territory in a hurry. Arizona converted a fourth-and-1 thanks to a pass interference call on Marcus Trufant on a pass intended for Fitzgerald, and got to the Seattle 34. Kolb was sacked by Raheem Brock, then Chancellor sealed the victory, stepping in front of a pass intended for tight end Todd Heap at the Seattle 25.
Chancellor had seen the play on film and jumped Heap’s route.
”That was a great interception, cutting in front and stealing the ball at such a critical time,” Carroll said. ”It was really a cool thing. I think he’s just getting started.”
Kolb finished 25 of 39 for 252 yards and was intercepted twice. Kicker Jay Feely missed from 51 and 49 yards on a blustery day. The Cardinals were also forced to use fourth-string running back Alfonso Smith because Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling were inactive and Chester Taylor was ineffective early.
But Seattle’s defense managed to hold the Cardinals scoreless on their six possessions after Jackson’s TD run.
”We knew we had to get a win,” Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons said. ”Our back was against the wall and we didn’t want to drop to 0-3.”
Notes: Seattle LB Matt McCoy left after getting ”hit in the head.” Carroll said but it wasn’t believed to be significant. … Fitzgerald’s touchdown catch gave him 67 for his career and passed Roy Green for most in Cardinals history. … Hauschka’s 30-yard FG in the first quarter gave Seattle’s its first lead of the regular season. … Seattle has won eight of the last nine home openers. … DE Calais Campbell had a career-high 2 1/2 sacks.