Although Philip Rivers has only faced the Seattle Seahawks three times in games that count, he knows nearly everything about their defense because of Gus Bradley.
Rivers used that know-how to get the Los Angeles Chargers off to a strong start in their first victory of the preseason.
Melvin Gordon rushed for a short touchdown to cap a strong 70-yard opening drive by the Bolts’ first-teamers, and Rivers went 6 of 7 for 62 yards in Los Angeles’ 24-14 preseason victory over the Seahawks on Saturday night.
Rivers played only two series in his first action of the preseason, but he had six consecutive completions. He also made a few plays by capably eluding the Seattle rush and connecting with strong throws on the run.
None of it surprised Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Bradley, the Chargers’ defensive coordinator, ran Carroll’s defense in Seattle for four years, and Los Angeles’ scheme is awfully similar.
“Philip had us a couple of times,” Carroll said. “He knew what he was going against, and he did a great job. He plays against our defense every day (in practice).”
Russell Wilson was 13 of 21 for 193 yards while playing the entire first half for the Seahawks (0-2). His offense was limited to two field goals by execution mistakes in the red zone, and Wilson was repeatedly flushed from the pocket by Melvin Ingram while the Chargers’ destructive pass rusher had an outstanding first half.
David Moore made the Seahawks’ biggest play of the first half, hauling in a 52-yard catch between two Chargers downfield. Seattle could have kept it closer, but Chris Carson had a touchdown run waved off by a penalty and later fumbled at the goal line in the first half.
“In the red zone in particular, we’ve got to stay on schedule,” Wilson said. “That’s the lesson we learned from tonight, but the great thing was really the score should have been 21-7 pretty early. First three drives, we get three touchdown opportunities, and that’s what we look for. We go to the truth of what we did and where we can get better.”
JJ Jones returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown late in the first half, and Mike Williams caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith in the second half of the Chargers’ preseason home opener in their second season at compact StubHub Center. Coach Anthony Lynn was infuriated by 14 penalties, but otherwise pleased.
“Classic example of bend-but-don’t-break defense,” Lynn said. “They didn’t let them in the end zone, and that’s the most important thing.”
Smith then made a strong argument for the Chargers’ backup job, going 6 of 8 for 85 yards. His TD pass came on an eye-opening catch by Williams, who jumped over Seattle cornerback Akeem King and hauled in the first score of his NFL career for a 21-6 lead.
Seahawks rookie Alex McGough led a solid drive in the final minutes, hitting Malik Turner with a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Robert Aguayo hit a 39-yard field goal with 40 seconds left, boosting his bid to win the Chargers’ kicking job.
Williams was the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, but the Clemson product’s career got off to a slow start because of injuries. He is healthy and eager to become a force in the Chargers’ already bulging receiving corps alongside Pro Bowler Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams.
“It’s good to see Mike take the drill to the field,” Lynn said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Jones made another argument for a spot on the regular-season roster with a spectacular burst through the heart of the Seahawks’ punt coverage team on the way to a score. The undrafted free agent from West Georgia has turned heads throughout camp.
“That was a backbreaker, and the difference in the game,” Carroll said.
Seahawks: RG D.J. Fluker dislocated his finger, but Carroll doesn’t think it’s serious: “He’s an offensive lineman. I think he can handle that.”
Chargers: S Jaylen Watkins started, but was helped off the field late in the first half with a right knee injury. Ingram fell on his teammate on the play, and Watkins couldn’t put weight on his leg. He will have an MRI exam Sunday, Lynn said.
Chargers left tackle Russell Okung raised his right fist during the national anthem. Three Seahawks stayed off the field during the anthem for the second consecutive week: offensive tackle Duane Brown, defensive end Branden Jackson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson.
Seahawks: At the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 24.
Chargers: Host the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 25.
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