SEATTLE, WASHINGTON // Pete Carroll pumped his fists and hugged players, greeting nearly every one. He ran a lot on the sidelines - on a surgically repaired left knee that was just fixed two weeks ago. And all that was before the national anthem. Then he high-fived the guy who sang that.
"Yeah, I was really fired up about that song," Carroll said. "The guy did a great job." The 58-year-old coach who bolted from Southern California in January to rebuild the struggling Seattle Seahawks looked as if he was having more fun than his players during the team's 20-18 pre-season victory over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. Charlie Whitehurst, the back-up quarterback, threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns while playing the second and third quarters in his first game since a spring trade with San Diego.
Whitehurst, acquired because 34-year-old Matt Hasselbeck is in the final year of his contract, put Seattle up 20-7. The Titans closed to 20-18 with 4:39 left on a one-yard run by LeGarrette Blount and a two-point pass by the rookie Rusty Smith. But Smith was intercepted by Kam Chancellor with 25 seconds left. Yet Carroll's first NFL game since January 2, 2000, when he was coaching the New England Patriots, was more notable for his energy than it was for anything the players did.
"Oh, I loved it. It was a blast," Carroll said. "We even made it like a real NFL game, coming down to the final 20 seconds. "Just being here, I'm so proud to be here ... It was really, really cool." Chris Johnson had a one-yard touchdown run on Tennessee's first drive on the same field where he became the sixth player with 2,000 yards rushing in a season last January. He finished with five carries for seven yards after a small workload.
The home crowd got its biggest thrill from Mike Williams. The top-10 pick by the Lions in 2005, who ballooned out of the league for two years, caught a short pass from Whitehurst on an audible against a blitz midway through the second quarter. Williams, a former star for Carroll at USC, then beat Ryan Mouton with one step and ran 51 yards untouched for a touchdown to put Seattle up 10-7. Williams kept the football and brought it to the bench. No wonder, given all he has been through.
His last NFL score was on August 11, 2007, for the Oakland Raiders in a pre-season opener against the Cardinals. He has only two scoring catches in the regular season in his once-soaring career. About the only time Carroll was not giddy was when he zipped across the field to join the concern for Stafon Johnson, the unlucky rookie running back. Johnson was hit high and spun around by Chancellor following a short reception on the final play of the third quarter. He then landed hard on his right leg.
The Titans' Twitter feed said the initial diagnosis is a dislocated right ankle. Johnson's final season at USC was ruined when a falling weight bar crushed his neck and larynx. Carroll said: "I was so sorry to see that. This guy, what he's undergone to get here, so much pressure physically and emotionally, and to have a serious injury. "If anybody can get back, he can. He's an absolute warrior." * Associated Press