Predictably, the Seahawks’ first loss raised a few eyebrows around the NFL. That’s to be expected when the defending Super Bowl champion, coming off a dominating opening victory over Green Bay, is taken down in Week 2.
Here’s what the national media said about the Seahawks’ 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
There was a play in the first quarter of the Seattle-San Diego game Sunday where Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was given a sly shove by Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner as he went out of bounds, a shove the officials didn’t see.
Rivers, in his typical on-field demeanor, turned and gave Wagner an earful.
The message: Try that on other quarterbacks and other teams because the Chargers aren’t backing down.
And they didn’t.
Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates. Of all the stories in Week 2, the chemistry between these two men makes Rivers-to-Gates the story of the week. Rivers threw three touchdown passes Sunday, all to Gates. He threw seven passes to Gates, who caught them all.
“I am serious about this,” McCoy told me Sunday night. “They could wear blindfolds and complete passes.”
Rivers and Gates have been together since 2004—this is their 11th season as a tandem, and that’s forever in the NFL. “He reads my posture,” said Gates. “He reads my body language.” And Gates reads Rivers’ weird throws. Some are vintage rippers. Some are shot-put things. The throws get there, but they’re not beautiful all the time. In the second quarter, Gates was singled by safety Kam Chancellor, and Rivers led him in the back of the end zone perfectly for an eight-yard touchdown. Later in the quarter, Gates hand-fought with linebacker Malcolm Smith; Smith would be flagged for defensive holding on the play. Gates veered off after too much contact, and Rivers, who just barely escaped the Seattle rush in the pocket, looped a throw over Smith and Chancellor again. Touchdown.
Unfazed by the challenge of knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions, the San Diego Chargers leaned on a nostalgic combination to beat the Seattle Seahawks, 30-21, before a raucous, sun-splashed crowd at Qualcomm Stadium.
Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates. Times three.
That’s right, the Chargers quarterback threw touchdown passes of eight, eight and 21 yards to his old buddy, a tight end who’s halfway to Canton and, at 34, is older than every player on the Seahawks roster.
Forget Beast Mode. This was Beach Mode.
It’s rare to see the Seahawks‘ pass defense so thoroughly dominated. They missed a lot of tackles and struggled with short crossing patterns. Rivers wasn’t afraid of throwing at Richard Sherman. They completed their first four passes toward Sherman for 56 yards.
The usual paradise-like weather conditions of San Diego were more like a day in the Sahara Desert on Sunday, and the Seattle Seahawks‘ defense wilted away in the sweltering heat.
The defending Super Bowl champs got pushed around and outmuscled most of the day by the San Diego Chargers, who came away with a 30-21 victory at blisteringly hot Qualcomm Stadium.
The Seahawks finished with the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL last season. Three of the four members of the team’s Legion of Boom — cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas — went to the Pro Bowl. Yet Gates appeared to get open whenever he wanted, exposing what could be the Achilles’ heel of the best defense in the NFL: Seattle’s inability to blanket tight ends.
A crowd in white drowned out the blue and neon green, in numbers and noise. Two star players from the visiting team left the field due to heat-related cramps. One was carted off.
There should have been a tribute, a game ball, awarded to coach Mike McCoy and his staff for drawing up the menu, for concocting the absolutely best game plan possible for beating Seattle. It was, in fact, one of the most precise blueprints this team has carried out since Air Coryell was bombing everyone on its radar.
Their next opponent, the big, bad, dreaded Seattle Seahawks, had lost. Next week’s Super Bowl rematch suddenly has a new wrinkle. If the San Diego Chargers could topple Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman and Co., could the Broncos?
“They beat us bad in the Super Bowl. They think they have the pedigree, they talked noise all offseason. That’s what we’ve been waiting for,” Denver wide receiver Andre Caldwell told USA TODAY Sports.
It was a well-earned 30-21 victory for the Chargers, who were able to hold onto the ball for more than 42 minutes against a defense that has carved up every team it has seen since losing 17-10 to the Cardinals on December 22 of last year. It’s the first time the team has lost by more than seven points with Russell Wilson at quarterback.
San Diego (1-1) had blown an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost its opener Monday night at Arizona. Seattle (1-1) had nine days to prepare after an impressive 20-point opening victory against Green Bay.
There are no wide-ranging narratives to draw from this game about how to beat the Seahawks. The Seattle defensive backs, “The Legion of Boom,” are generally very good against tight ends and can stymie even the most composed of top quarterbacks.
There is little, honestly, that can be taken from this game and copied by the Seahawks’ later opponents, but this is a good reminder that the Chargers are to be taken very seriously, and the Seahawks—while still one of the, if not the, best teams in the NFL—are still just another football team playing on any given Sunday.
The Seahawks are still the Seahawks
Despite the loss, let’s not overreact. The offense was still good by the numbers — Seattle averaged 7.2 yards per play compared to 5.2 for San Diego. The defense was a disappointment given what we have come to expect from the unit that led the Seahawks to a 2013 title, but it still stymied the Chargers to just 2.9 yards per carry on the ground and held wideouts Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen to quiet games.
Gates was just a difference maker.
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