SEATTLE -- Leon Washington made sure to thank everyone else before taking a moment to think a little selfishly.
How close was Seattle's dynamic running back from returning three kickoffs back for touchdowns on Sunday?
"A slip away," Washington said.
Two touchdown returns were good enough for the Seahawks.
Washington made up for a Seattle slew of mistakes and missed chances, returning second-half kickoffs 101 and 99 yards for touchdowns to tie an NFL record, and the Seahawks held off Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers 27-20 on Sunday.
Pete Carroll's crew is a surprising 2-1 and tied at the top of the mediocre NFC West. And Washington looks like a colossal steal after Seattle grabbed the versatile back from the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick during April's draft.
With a metal rod in his right leg, Washington was deemed expendable in New York. Sunday, he was invaluable for the Seahawks.
"I really truly appreciate the Jets for letting him go, for sending him here for pretty much nothing," Seattle receiver Deion Branch said.
When Washington was traded, Seattle brought in a bit of an unknown. Washington had 3 1/2 productive seasons with the Jets, but his entire career was jeopardized by the gruesome compound leg fracture last season.
Thirteen seconds at the start of the second half should put those questions about Washington to rest.
Washington caught the second-half kickoff 1-yard deep in the end zone, and other than a couple of flailing hands grasping at his shoes, went untouched for the longest kickoff return in Seahawks history. Seattle's time-management meltdown at the end of the first half that cost them points suddenly didn't look so bad.
Fifteen seconds later, Seattle was back in front. Washington got lost in a pile, squirted free and raced 99 yards to give Seattle its final advantage. He is the 10th player to return two kickoffs in for a TD in a game.
He might have gotten a third, but Washington slipped trying to make cut during a 33-yard return at the end of the third quarter.
"My thing is not to get satisfied, don't get complacent and always give glory to God and work hard," Washington said. "I'm a talented enough football player to play football, I was born to play football. I just go out every week and work hard and know eventually good things are going to happen."
Rivers finished with a career-best and franchise record 455 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. He picked apart Seattle's maligned secondary for much of the second half, only to get turned away twice in the final 3 minutes deep in Seattle's end.
Rivers led San Diego to the Seattle 14 before a pair of false starts backed up the offense. On fourth-and-15 at the Seattle 19, his pass for Gates at the goal line was knocked away by Roy Lewis.
Rivers got one more chance after San Diego's defense held. Starting at his 45, Rivers completed passes of 16 yards to Buster Davis and 25 yards to Malcom Floyd. His final chance was intercepted by rookie safety Earl Thomas with 6 seconds left.
Finally, the normally exuberant Carroll could smile and get a bear hug from defensive line coach Dan Quinn.
Rivers completed 29 of 53 passes and had two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gates finished with seven catches for 109 yards and a score, one of nine players to catch passes.
"To make it as simple as you can: five turnovers ... two special teams touchdowns, that's a recipe for a loss," Rivers said.
San Diego played without rookie running back Ryan Mathews (injured ankle). The Chargers also lost star linebacker Shawne Merriman to a calf injury in the first quarter and starting right guard Louis Vasquez to a knee injury. Along with the injuries, San Diego turned over the ball five times and Rivers was sacked another four times.
Receiver Patrick Crayton indicated the special teams problems were the result of players not taking their responsibilities seriously.
"Right now, [special teams] coach [Steve] Crosby is [ticked] off. I don't blame him. The guys who are sitting in the meetings are not taking him seriously when he tells you to do a certain thing on a kickoff," a frustrated Crayton said. "He's been in this league I don't know how many years. He's been around a while for a reason, obviously. You have to take this stuff seriously."
Seattle will feel fortunate to slip away with the victory considering all its errors. Matt Hasselbeck threw a 9-yard touchdown to John Carlson in the first half, but also threw an interception at the goal line.
Branch appeared to score on 42-yard TD in the second quarter, but had the touchdown reversed on replay as Chargers safety Paul Oliver punched the ball loose from behind for a touchback.
And there was the end of the half when Seattle failed to get any points after having first down at the San Diego 11 with 29 seconds left.
"We're not going to win like that all the time," Carroll said. "It took something out of the ordinary."
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