Fri, Sep 18, 2015

Flip the Script: Chargers Lose on Late Field Goal

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RB Melvin Gordon. Photo by Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports.

The Chargers outgained the Seahawks in total yardage, 406-222. They averaged 5.2 yards per play, as compared to 3.8 yards for the visitors. And they dominated time of possession, 36:49 to 23:11.

The only place San Diego came up short was on the scoreboard, as Seattle rallied for a 16-15 victory after kicker Steven Hauschka drilled a 60-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining. The game provided the Seahawks with their first win of the preseason while dealing the Bolts their first loss.

Philip Rivers played the entire first half and completed 13-of-19 passes for 140 yards. His favorite target was Stevie Johnson, who caught four of the six balls thrown his way for 63 yards.

"He had some big catches, good plays," Rivers said of Johnson. "It was good to get into the rhythm of the game together."

It was a good thing the passing game was clicking, because starting RB Melvin Gordon struggled again. The first-round pick carried 14 times for just 34 yards (2.4 yards per carry). The Chargers actually finished with a respectable 136 yards on the ground, but figure was inflated by a 42-yard run by Javontee Herndon on an end-around and a 20-yard run by undrafted rookie Dreamius Smith.

"[I'm] definitely getting more comfortable," Gordon said after the game.

On defense, San Diego's starters shut down all of Seattle's top weapons. Russell Wilson completed less than half of his passes and averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt. Marshawn Lynch carried just two times for 6 yards before calling it a night. And Jimmy Graham caught two passes for 24 yards (no Seattle player finished with more than 24 yards receiving).

Rookie linebackers Nick Dzubnar and Kyle Emanuel each recorded sacks.

"[I'm] very pleased the energy, the effort in the first three games of the defense," said head coach Mike McCoy.

So where did it all go wrong?

Special teams was the primary problem. Seattle rookie Tyler Lockett returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown. Later on, first-year return man Kevin Smith returned a kickoff 54 yards.

Penalties were another way the Seahawks won the battle of hidden yardage. The Chargers were penalized nine times for 98 yards. There were other minor issues, as well, including some early drops that disrupted the offense's rhythm.

While there is plenty for San Diego to work on between now and the preseason finale in San Francisco, Coach McCoy has to be pleased with the way his team competed against the reigning NFC Champions. The fact his team endured no serious injuries is another significant plus.

Play of the Day

Branden Oliver caught a check-down pass from Kellen Clemens and raced down the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown to cut Seattle's lead to 13-12. While San Diego is clearly committed to Gordon at this point, there is no denying the fact Oliver has been the team's most explosive back throughout the offseason program and preseason.

Bubble Boy

Austin Pettis has been working hard to convince the Chargers to carry him as a sixth receiver. He did not help his cause on Saturday, as he caught just one of the four balls thrown his way for a measly 2-yard gain. He was also called for an offensive pass interference penalty.

On the Horizon

The Chargers must trim their roster down to 75 players by Tuesday. Two days after that cutdown, they head to Santa Clara for a showdown with the 49ers that will feature almost exclusively deep reserves battling for roster spots.


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Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for Scout.com and has also been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Footballinsiders.com and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter @NFLinsider_Mike.

Tags: 
Austin Pettis, Branden Oliver, Javontee Herndon, Kyle Emanuel, Melvin Gordon, Mike McCoy, Nick Dzubnar, Philip Rivers, Stevie Johnson
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