The Los Angeles Chargers stormed StubHub Center field for the first time in the 2018 season as they defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 on Saturday (Aug. 18) in front of their home crowd.
“It’s always good to come home and play in front of your family and friends and your fans,” said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn. “It felt good to be back here.”
Philip Rivers, who enters his 15th season in the NFL, saw his first preseason action. He finished 6 of 7 for 62 yards. Rivers currently holds the longest active streak for the most consecutive regular-season games starting (192).
The Chargers were fifth in the league in both sacks and sack rate last year, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who combined for 23 sacks. Ingram made an early splash play for the Chargers in their second preseason game. He knocked the ball loose from Seahawks’ running back Chris Carson which led to a recovery by tackle Brandon Mebane in the second quarter.
With 1:54 left in the first half, wide receiver J.J. Jones put his jets on full display with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown. Jones, a 5’10 wideout from the University of West Virginia, is one of several players currently fighting for a roster spot.
“There’s going to be some tough decisions made and I’m just glad I’m not a coach,” said Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III.
Detrez Newsome carried much of the load with running backs Austin Ekeler, Russell Hansbrough and Justin Jackson all held out of Saturday’s matchup. Newsome finished with 19 carries for 78 yards, including a 31-yard rush to end the game.
“It’s good to see those guys make those plays because they make them in practice and pretty soon we have to make these decisions on these 53,” stated Lynn. “Newsome played a lot of snaps today especially special teams and backfield; I think he did a heck of a job.”
As expected, there were a long list of Chargers players that did not see on-field action due to injury including defensive end Joey Bosa (foot), cornerback Trevor Williams (ankle), guard Forrest Lamp (knee), linebacker James Onwualu (groin), receiver Dylan Cantrell (knee), tight end Cole Hunt (knee) and defensive tackle Justin Jones (ankle).
The Chargers defense was able to limit the Seahawks to six first-half points despite quarterback Russell Wilson remaining in for the entire first half.
“Classic example of bend but don’t break defense,” said Lynn.
Quarterback Geno Smith resumed play for the Chargers to start the second half. In the third quarter, the Chargers offensive proficiency continued with a touchdown catch thrown by Smith who connected with Mike Williams over a Seattle defender for a 25-yard score.
“If you see him in practice he’s making those contest catches in practice,” commented Smith on Williams, who was the Chargers’ former first-round pick. Williams has put together a highlight reel throughout training camp. “Everyone talks about just how much better he’s gotten and I think he’s definitely a starter in this league.”
Smith was one of the many offseason acquisitions for the Chargers. He has been encouraged by the litany of young talent the Chargers have on their roster.
“By far the most talented team I’ve ever been on and I think the one thing that we have here is great leadership,” remarked Smith. “We’re all working hard following the lead of the veteran guys and we’re getting better.”
Smith played nearly two full quarters. He was 6-of-8 for 85 yards including the touchdown pass to Williams.
The Chargers committed 14 penalties while the Seahawks had six. Los Angeles won the possession battle against Seattle by over 14 minutes.
“We have an expectation when you put the Chargers uniform on we play a certain way and on our defense we stay on top,” Lynn said. “Today we didn’t get that done.”
Though it is the start of a new season with several offseason acquisitions and losses, the Chargers are the only team in their division without a new quarterback or head coach. The Los Angeles football club was able to acquire C Mike Pouncey, K Caleb Sturgis, CB Jaylen Watkins, and TE Virgil Green though they lost S Tre Boston, C Matt Slauson, DE Jeremiah Attaochu, LB Korey Toomer, G Kenny Wiggins, and TE Antonio Gates.
Jaylen Watkins suffered a torn ACL during the preseason game against Seattle. Tight end Hunter Henry was already sidelined by an ACL injury that was diagnosed back in May.
The Chargers have two preseason contest remaining before their regular season begins on September 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The preseason continues for the Chargers as the New Orleans Saints will travel to StubHub Center on August 25 to take on the Los Angeles team.