San Diego Chargers 18, Seattle Seahawks 17
Monday, August 25, 2008
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Play Of The Day: One minute into the game, 1st-and-10 from the Chargers’ 32-yard line. Charlie Frye connects with Nate Burleson down the right seam. Burleson bounces off one tackler and runs down the right sideline for a quick 68-yard touchdown.
Handouts to the Standouts: Charlie Frye was 19-of-29 for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, finishing with a passer rating of 111.1. Frye made quick, smart decisions with the football and when his protection broke down, he used his legs to get out of trouble. Last night, Frye looked capable of being Matt Hasselbeck’s primary backup. Frye left the game with a knee injury in the 4th quarter, and will have an MRI on Tuesday.
T.J. Duckett entered the game on the final play in the 3rd quarter and carried the ball 6 times for 46 yards on the Seahawks’ final touchdown drive. Mike Holmgren has expressed a desire to use Duckett late in games to move the chains and drain the clock. Last night, Duckett may have showed that his ability to do that is deserving of a roster spot.
Jordan Kent’s development as an NFL wide receiver took another positive step tonight. The 6-3, 209-pound receiver from Oregon had 4 receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Kent is proving to be more than just a tall, speedy guy who can run the “9” route. He’s shown a knack for finding the soft spots in zones and the athleticism to get yards after the catch.
Ryan Plackemeier was called on to punt three times during his preseason debut, and he responded with punts of 40, 58 and 60 yards. The 40-yard punt was inside the 20, and his net average for the night was a solid 42.3 yards. Last year’s NFL leader had a 41.1 net average. Plackemeier also served as the holder for Olindo Mare and made a nice play on a low snap by Tim Lindsey.
Things That Made Me Go “Blech”: This sight of Lofa Tatupu limping off the field with 2:45 remaining in the 1st half. The Seahawks can ill-afford an injury to their three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, who has what the team calls a bruised knee. On the play he pulled up lame, he was engaged with a blocker and there was no contact to his legs. He was involved in a pretty hard collision with Jordan Babineaux and Vincent Jackson on the play before that, though. Tatupu will have an MRI on Tuesday.
The Seahawks still appear unable to generate a consistent pass rush on the road. Seattle had their full complement of pass rushers, including All-Pro defensive end Patrick Kerney, and they barely got near a gimpy Philip Rivers despite the Chargers playing without Pro Bowl offensive linemen Nick Hardwick and Marcus McNeill.
Due to that lack of a pass rush, Seattle’s first-team defense struggled to get off the field on third downs. San Diego converted 5-of-8 (62.5%) of 3rd downs against Seattle’s starters, which is unacceptable.
Penalties. Under Mike Holmgren, the Seahawks have prided themselves on being one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. Last night, Seattle had two penalties stall what may have been touchdown drives.
An unnamed Seahawk committed a false-start penalty on Seattle’s second drive of the game. Before that flag, the Seahawks had driven 59 yards on 10 plays (7 runs, 3 passes), and ate up over 6 minutes of clock. That penalty led to a 1st-and-15, which was followed by two incomplete passes, a 2-yard draw play, and Olindo Mare missing a 50-yard field goal. On Seattle’s first drive in the 2nd half, Floyd Womack flinched before a 3rd-and-9 play from the Chargers’ 9-yard line. Seattle wound up gaining 8 yards on a 3rd-and-14 pass to Jeb Putzier, but Seattle had to settle for a game-tying field goal.
Kevin Hobbs’ pass interference penalty. I’ve watched that replay a dozen times, and I still don’t see why that needed to be called. Hey, it’s preseason for the zebras, too, and at least San Diego mercifully removed the overtime option by going for the two-point conversion.
Offense: Charlie Frye was efficient, going 19-for-29 for 219 yards, two touchdowns and finishing the night with a passer rating of 111.1. Frye made good decisions with the football and showed that he could be a viable option as Matt Hasselbeck’s primary backup. The running game averaged 5.1 yards per carry and showed a new wrinkle with Owen Schmitt and Leonard Weaver lining up in a “heavy” package on short-yardage plays. A week after going for 261 total yards, rookie Justin Forsett was a non-factor. Forsett had nine touches, totaled 39 yards and lost a fumble in the 4th quarter.
Mike Holmgren wanted to force-feed his young receivers last night. Jordan Kent responded with 4 receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, while Courtney Taylor (3-24) and Ben Obomanu (1-5) made their first receptions of the preseason. Logan Payne added a 10-yard reception and he and Frye nearly connected on a deep ball late in the 1st half that would’ve put the Seahawks in scoring position. Frye overthrew Payne, who took a decent shot from the defender for his efforts. Nate Burleson had a three-play night, leaving the game with a non-serious arm injury after his 68-yard touchdown. Tight ends John Carlson (2-19) and Jeb Putzier (3-27) also made contributions in the passing game.
On the surface, the offensive line looked pretty good. Seattle had 392 yards of total offense, averaged 5.1 yards per rushing play and only allowed one sack on the night. Against a defense like San Diego’s, that’s pretty good. However, Frye’s mobility avoided a few would-be sacks. The line committed a pair of costly false start penalties and failed to generate any push on a 3rd and inches play in the 2nd quarter.
Defense: The Seahawks can’t be happy with the way Darren Sproles gashed them last night. The tiny running back averaged 7.8 yards per carry, often hiding behind his blockers to avoid detection. Even when Seattle could locate Sproles, they had a hard time corralling him. Sproles faked rookie defensive end Lawrence Jackson out of his shoes on an 8-yard run inside the Seahawks’ 10-yard line and scored on a 1-yard plunge two plays later. The Seahawks did show that their stoutness on short-yardage plays a year ago isn’t a fluke. Chargers rookie running back Jacob Hester had four carries from the Seahawks’ 1-yard line, and Seattle was able to stop him three times.
Seattle struggled to get pressure on the Chargers quarterbacks. Backup defensive end Jason Babin used a nice speed rush move to get Seattle’s only sack of the night. Aside from a blown coverage that led to Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson connecting on a 59-yard pass play, the Seahawks defensive backs played well. Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Deon Grant, Kevin Hobbs, Omare Lowe and Jordan Babineaux each broke up passes and the Chargers quarterbacks completed just 47% of their passes.
Special Teams: Ryan Plackemeier punted well (3 punts, 42.3 net avg) and did his usual stellar job as a holder. With Brandon Coutu nursing a groin injury, Olindo Mare handled all the kicking duties. Mare connected on a 24-yard field goal, but was wide left on a 50-yard attempt. Two of Mare’s four kickoffs were touchbacks, and on the two that were returned, San Diego’s average starting position was the 27-yard line.
The Golden Microphone Award: As tempting as it is to award this to the microphone that wasn’t in use, I’ve got to give this one to Ron Jaworski. It’s always fun to listen to “Jaws” break down the quarterback play.
“What do you got? X-ray vision?” – Jaworski to Mike Tirico, who had just claimed to have spotted the ball crossing the goal-line on Jacob Hester’s touchdown late in the 4th quarter.
Random Notes: Jordan Babineaux made his preseason debut last night, serving as the nickel cornerback with the first-team defense and safety with the second-team defense.
Courtney Taylor appeared to injure his left arm in the 4th quarter, but did return to the game.
The Seattle Seahawks have the #1-ranked offense in the preseason, averaging 414 total yards per game. Seattle’s running game also ranks #1, averaging 188.3 yards per game.
Defensively, the Seahawks rank 6th in the NFL this preseason, with an average of 267 yards allowed per game.
Summary: Wins and losses in the preseason are secondary to evaluating the talent on your roster and keeping your top players healthy for the regular season. The five cuts the Seahawks need to make today to trim their roster to 75 were likely made before last night’s game, which means the true result of tonight’s game won’t be known until the results of the MRI on Lofa Tatupu’s right knee are in.
Later This Week: An old AFC West rival comes to town.
Brian McIntyre writes about the Seahawks and blogs about the NFL. You can reach him here.