Grading the Game: Seahawks have a spotty day in San Diego
Grading the Game: Only Russell Wilson grades well in loss to Chargers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SAN DIEGO — After a week of talk that the Seahawks were head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL, reality hit hard Sunday in San Diego.
Seattle’s defense couldn’t stop San Diego’s Philip Rivers and 34-year-old tight end Antonio Gates, the two connecting for three touchdowns as the Chargers beat the Seahawks 30-21 Sunday.
Seattle led only at 7-3 in the first quarter before giving up 17 second-quarter points to fall behind for good.
The key stat? San Diego ran 75 plays to just 40 for the Seahawks, with the Chargers converting 10 of 17 third downs to keep the Seattle offense chained to the sideline for much of the game — Seattle’s time of possession was just 17:45.
Here’s a look at each position group with some grades:
Russell Wilson simply didn’t have enough time on the field to get much done against the Chargers. In his limited time, he was his usual efficient self, especially once Seattle decided to go with almost solely a hurry-up, no-huddle offense late in the second quarter. Seattle had the ball twice in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead and couldn’t get it done. But it’s hard to blame Wilson for those failures as he was often running for his life.
A decent day for both Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, though again each had limited attempts because of San Diego’s offensive control of the game. Lynch had just six carries, tied for his fewest since being traded to Seattle in 2010. Lynch ran well enough when he had his chances, averaging 6 yards and scoring a touchdown on a 14-yard catch. Turbin scored the first touchdown of his career in the second quarter and caught two passes for 35 yards to spark the drive.
Percy Harvin showed again the kind of impact he will have on this offense with a 51-yard run on maybe the most creative play of the day for the Seahawks. He lined up at tailback behind Lynch at fullback and then took a flip, racing down the sideline for the score. Doug Baldwin threw a good block to clear the way for Harvin, putting Seattle up 7-3 in the first quarter — its only lead of the game.
But Seattle had trouble getting the ball to Harvin much of the rest of the day as he had just three touches. And while Jermaine Kearse and Baldwin had moments, they were too few. Zach Miller’s three penalties typified a sloppy day for the Seahawks.
Wilson was sacked just twice, but that doesn’t reflect how much pressure he was under throughout the game, especially in the second half once the Chargers began teeing off with the lead and Seattle in poor field position. Rookie tackle Justin Britt and left tackle Russell Okung each gave up sacks.
J.R. Sweezy also had a costly false-start penalty to make it third-and-15 on a Seattle drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a punt.
Hard to know if Seattle could have run, because it could never really establish a running game, with just 13 rushing attempts and only eight by tailbacks.
Rivers was harried at times, but he’s good at knowing how to get away from pressure and how to get rid of the ball just in time. The Seahawks finished with just one sack.
The Chargers also were able to put together a running game early that was better than the stats would indicate — 101 yards on 37 carries. San Diego had seven first downs by rushing.
And one of the costliest plays of the game came from end Bruce Irvin, a late hit on Rivers after he was stopped short on a third-down scramble. Instead of the Chargers kicking a field goal, they kept the ball and scored a touchdown to go ahead 27-14 late in the third quarter.
Pass coverage is usually considered a strength of Seattle’s linebackers, but it was a challenge against the Chargers, especially in trying to defend Gates.
This was one of the tougher games in recent memory for the Legion of Boom. And although injuries forced newly acquired Marcus Burley to play significantly, Burley held up well.
The Chargers said they wouldn’t be shy about going after Richard Sherman a week after the Packers declined to throw his way. And they had success, with Sherman unofficially giving up five receptions for 60 yards.
Ultimately, a spotty day here.
Most damaging was a fumble by Harvin on a kickoff return that gave the Chargers the ball at the 28 and led to a San Diego touchdown that put the Seahawks in a 20-7 hole. Harvin had a 30-yard return early, but the Chargers then did everything they could to avoid kicking him the ball. Tight end Luke Willson, an up man on the kickoff return unit, ended up with two returns as a result. Expect that strategy to continue all season.