It was a game in which it felt like for every good thing that happened there was also something bad in what ultimately turned into a 24-14 defeat.
CARSON, Calif. — The Seahawks’ starters — most of them, anyway — played one half against the Chargers in an exhibition game Saturday night.
Which was fitting because it was a game in which it felt like for every good thing that happened there also was something bad in what ultimately turned into a 24-14 defeat for Seattle against Los Angeles. Seattle trailed 21-6 before scoring its only offensive touchdown with 4:31 left on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Alex McGough to Malik Turner to make the score a little more respectable.
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— Receiver David Moore might have sewn up a roster spot: The second-year Seahawks receiver has been regarded as likely to be on the team’s initial 53-man roster after a strong offseason and start to training camp.
He might have sewn it up with a two-catch sequence in the second quarter Saturday that served as the offensive highlight of the game for Seattle — a 52-yard catch plucked between two defenders and then a 19-yarder on the next play to take the ball to the Los Angeles 1.
“A couple of unbelievable plays,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
Moore said he wasn’t sure Wilson would throw it to him on the 52-yarder in which he was double covered.
“I did not think he was going to throw that,” Moore said with a smile. “And then as I was all the way down the field I saw the ball and thought ‘Well, there it is.”’
Intriguingly, the Chargers cornerback on each play was Michael Davis, who also was memorably beaten a few times in an exhibition game a year ago by Kasen Williams. Moore at times appears something of a carbon copy of the former Washington and Skyline High star but in the Seahawks’ eyes, likely with more upside.
And that leads us to our second “good’’ aspect of the game for the Seahawks …
— Seattle hit big plays in the passing game: The Seahawks might well have remembered that they hit some deep shots against the Chargers a year ago as quarterback Russell Wilson looked aggressively downfield throughout the half, hitting 13 of 21 passes for a whopping 193 yards.
Along with Moore making two catches for 71 yards in the first half, Jaron Brown had two for 74 yards, including a 29-yarder on the first play of the game on a play-action pass after Wilson faked to Chris Carson. It’s the kind of play the Seahawks view as a foundation of what they hope their offense will look like in 2018.
Brown’s spot on the roster already seemed assured. But the performance against the Chargers helped reiterate the kind of impact he may be able to make this season.
Wilson then hit Brown for a 45-yard completion on the second series of the game. Each series led to field goals for what were Seattle’s only points of the first half.
“I love the opportunity,” said Brown, who played the last five years with Arizona before signing with the Seahawks as a free agent in the offseason. “I’m coming here I’m trying to prove myself to the team and everything and just want trying to really become a bigger part of the offense.”
— Rasheem Green again strong as defensive line settled down after shaky start: The Chargers drove 70 yards in nine plays the first time they had the ball with quarterback Philip Rivers hitting all four of his pass attempts for 41 yards. Tedric Thompson, getting his second start at free safety with Earl Thomas holding out, was beaten on two consecutive plays for gains of 14 and 13 yards that helped get the Chargers close (Maurice Alexander got a lot of work in the first half and the Seahawks might look more closely at an Alexander/McDougald pairing this week).
The Chargers also rushed for 43 yards on eight carries in the first quarter when they had their starters in throughout.
But the Seahawks stiffened against the run in the second quarter, when Chargers’ starting running back Melvin Gordon remained in. Gordon was held to 4 yards on four carries in the second quarter.
Again playing particularly well was rookie end Rasheem Green, who had a tackle-for-loss for 5 yards of Detrez Newsome in the third quarter. Green later had a sack in the fourth quarter, which gave him three in two preseason games.
“That really jumps out at you,” Carroll said of Green’s sacks. “He looks really aggressive and very skilled in his pass rush again.”
Green also tied for the team lead in tackles with K.J. Wright with six.
Naz Jones also batted down a pass in the second quarter and Tom Johnson and Quinton Jefferson combined for a drive-stopping sack on a third-down play in the second quarter.
The Seahawks, though, will need a better consistent pass rush than they got in the first half.
And some struggles stopping quarterback runs in the second half led to a bloated rushing total for the Chargers of 176 yards on 37 carries — 41 on four coming from third-string QB Cardale Jones against Seattle’s defensive reserves.
— Instead of solidifying right tackle spot, Germain Ifedi only raised more concerns: Ifedi had huge struggles in playing the entire first half, beaten several times by Chargers’ standout end Melvin Ingram, who wasn’t listed for any sacks but helped force two.
Ifedi’s struggles seemed to intensify after right guard D.J. Fluker went out with a finger injury (which Fluker said later is minor and shouldn’t keep him out long, if at all), with Jordan Roos replacing Fluker. The Chargers seemed to tee off on that side of the line with Ifedi taking the brunt of it.
Both Carroll and Ifedi, though, put a sunnier picture on it later.
Carroll said he’d have to look at the film but mentioned only one bullrush he thought caught Ifedi and said he thought the blocking was good enough to leave Wilson composed in the pocket most of the first half.
Said Ifedi: “I thought there were a couple I wanted back but I thought for the most part it was a good battle and I thought we made each other better today.”
Ifedi struggled early in camp with penalties but had seemed to play OK in the opener against the Colts. And maybe Seattle will write it off to going against one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL.
Still, the Seahawks had to be hoping for more from Ifedi. One issue in contemplating a change, though, is that Seattle doesn’t appear to have any realistic alternatives to compete with Ifedi at the moment short of moving someone from another position (maybe George Fant could move from left tackle). Backup Willie Beavers struggled as mightily as Ifedi did, and the two players who might have been the biggest competitors for the job — rookie Jamaro Jones and Isaiah Battle — are out with injuries. Jones may be done for the season after having ankle surgery this week in Green Bay. Battle sprained a knee against the Colts and while it’s not considered serious, he did not practice this week and it’s unclear when he will return.
— Seattle struggles in red zone: Due largely to Wilson’s passing, the Seahawks moved inside the Chargers’ 15 on their first three drives. But the Seahawks were held to field goals on their first two drives and the third evaporated when Carson fumbled the ball away at the 1 (he also appeared to have fumbled on the play before). Carson has had a strong camp overall and started well Saturday with 31 yards on four carries in the first quarter. But it goes without saying that fumbles, especially at the goal line, are pretty much unacceptable.
“A horrible thing to do,” Carroll said of the Carson fumble. “Chris ran the ball really well but it gets clouded because he gave the ball up inside the 1.”
Seattle also appeared to have a touchdown on its first series when Carson broke two tackles to scamper into the end zone from 23 yards out. But the touchdown was called back due to an illegal block above the waist on rookie tight end Will Dissly.
Carroll said the call seemed legit but lamented that it was away from the point of attack and didn’t have a bearing on the play.
“Wasn’t even near the play, so unfortunately that kills you,” Carroll said.
— Special teams gives up a long return: The Chargers got their second touchdown on a 72-yard punt return by J.J. Jones to take a 14-6 lead at halftime. The return came on a 57-yard punt by Jon Ryan in which rookie Jacob Martin and then second-year safety Delano Hill missed tackle attempts. One other possible factor? The punt didn’t seem to have quite the hang time of an earlier punt by rookie Michael Dickson. Dickson appears to have a comfortable edge on the punting job — that he held for presumed No. 1 kicker Sebastian Janikowski was telling — and depending on how the coaches view what happened on the return he might have taken another big step toward earning the spot.
Carroll said of the return, “We just got spread out. Obviously that was a back-breaking play on special teams for us. That’s the difference in the ballgame.”
In what might stand as the absolute best news of the night, there really wasn’t much of an injury report at all.
As noted, Fluker suffered a dislocated finger in the first quarter, on the first play of Seattle’s second drive.
Fluker said after the game he got the finger stuck on the shoulder pad of a Charger defender.
Fluker said he probably would have been able to go back in the game had it been the regular season.
“I’ll be fine,” he said. “Just got to take care of it during the time I was out. I’ll be fine.”