Here are five more notes, quotes and thoughts on the game that was Sunday in San Diego as the Chargers beat the Seahawks 30-21:
1. I was talking with someone the other day about the idea that this season so far had seemed a little devoid of obvious storylines. No QB controversy, for instance. Not a lot of other position battles. But now here’s a storyline — how does Seattle react to its first loss as defending Super Bowl champs? And with the added intrigue of Denver now coming to town and looking solid, at 2-0, but also flawed, being outgained by the Chiefs on Sunday. The attitude in the Seattle locker room afterward seemed one of taking the loss in stride — though much is sure to be made of Richard Sherman not talking — with players mostly positing the view that this need be only one loss in 16 games that will be played. Win next week and things can get back to their expected place quickly. Seattle did lose three games last season, recall, including two in December, before going on the playoff run that turned the season historical. But certainly, there’s a little more drama in heading into the Super Bowl rematch than might have been expected.
2. I’m sure many will wonder if San Diego has found a template for beating the Seahawks. Certainly, what they did makes sense — try to keep the chains moving with lots of quick, short passes. But that’s also what San Diego does every week now under second-year coach Mike McCoy, and in Philip Rivers it has the perfect QB to make it work. Seattle knew what the Chargers would do, and teams have had success moving between the 20s against Seattle before. Usually, though, they can’t get it in the end zone. Sunday, the Chargers did, due in large part to the play of Antonio Gates. Most other teams also don’t have someone like him. It was a nice plan, expertly executed. But I’m not sure it’s one every team can pull off against Seattle.
3. It’s hard to know what to make of the offensive performance Sunday because of how few plays the Seahawks ran (official stats say 40 but rushes and passes add up to 38) and how Seattle also spent so much of the game playing from behind, which caused the Seahawks to have to throw more than they wanted — Seattle had seven rushes and nine passes in the first half and finished with 13 rushes and 25 passes. So the plan would have been for another balanced attack, but that got out of whack when the Seahawks fell behind. Marshawn Lynch certainly wasn’t happy about getting the ball only six times. But neither were any of the coaches.
4. Of all the stats you can debate, this might be the biggest of all so far: Seattle right now has lost two turnovers on the season and gotten just one in return. Seattle never had a negative turnover ratio at any point in the season a year ago when it finished with a plus-22 ratio that led the NFL — 39 turnovers forced against just 17 lost. While so much of the focus on that stat falls on the turnovers forced, which was three more than any team in the NFL (Kansas City at 36), the turnovers lost was also fewer than all but three other teams. The fumbles lost, though, have been by two of the team’s most trusted players — Earl Thomas and Percy Harvin, each on returns. Seattle had a chance at three fumbles Sunday but couldn’t get any of them. Just the way the ball bounces sometimes. More telling Sunday was that Seattle didn’t get an interception in Rivers’ 37 attempts. But a lot of that is also a function of Rivers and the nature of a San Diego offense predicated on high-percentage throws. For now, it’s not a trend. But it is a stat Seattle will want to turn around quickly.
5. There was a lot of talk in training camp about Seattle having a deeper receiving corps than last season. But through two games, the contribution at the bottom of that corps hasn’t been felt real deeply, other than Ricardo Lockette’s touchdown last week. Bryan Walters had two receptions Sunday for 17 yards. But that was it other than the starting trio of Harvin, Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin. Lockette had one target, but no receptions, against the Chargers. Paul Richardson had no targets for the second straight week. And Kevin Norwood was again inactive, coming back from foot surgery. All are young players from whom you would expect growth (along with better health from Norwood). We also have yet to see much from Luke Willson, who has one catch for one yard this season, that coming against Green Bay.