CARSON, Calif. — For the second straight week, a late comeback attempt came up short for the Seahawks, who lost to the Chargers 24-14 at the StubHub Center. Despite dropping to 0-2 in the preseason, there were still some positive signs, as well as some concerns, and with that in mind, here are six rapid reactions to Seattle's loss in Los Angeles:
1. It was something of a mixed result for the starting offense.
On one hand, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks No. 1 offense looked explosive and moved down the field quickly on each of its first three possessions. On the other hand, those three drives resulted in only a pair of field goals, as two stalled out in the red zone, while the other ended on a Chris Carson fumble at the goal line.
Wilson, who played the entire first half, completed 13 of 21 passes for 193 yards and a 92.0 passer rating. Wilson showed a willingness to throw the ball deep down field throughout the night, an indicator that he's feeling comfortable with his pass protection—though Pro-Bowl defensive end Melvin Ingram did cause problems.
Aside from his fumble, Carson again looked very impressive, though his best run of the day, a would-be 23-yard touchdown run that showed a great mix of balance, power and speed, was negated by a late flag for a block-in-the back penalty.
"The lessons are so obvious," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. "We got down in the red zone, we take a couple field goals when we're right down the field, then we give the ball up inside the 1, which is a horrible thing to do. Then they wind up with the ball at the 20, it couldn't be worse. So the opportunities to score are just totally there."
The Seahawks have to be pretty pleased with the way the offense moved the ball in the first half, especially in the first quarter, but unlike last week when the starting offense scored a touchdown on its one possession of the game, the finish wasn't there this week for that group.
"We go back to work," Carroll added. "We've got to keep learning the lessons, and we've got to cash in. really both games have been similar. We got the ball down there and we needed those touchdowns. We need to get better there."
2. Even with their top two receivers out, the Seahawks have playmakers at receiver.
Doug Baldwin continues to work his way back from a knee injury, and Tyler Lockett was held out because of a sore toe, but even with those two out, the Seahawks still made some big plays in the passing game, particularly with Wilson throwing to Jaron Brown and David Moore.
Brown, a free-agent addition in the offseason, has been a standout throughout camp, and he opened Saturday's game with a 29-yard catch on Seattle's first play from scrimmage. Brown beat his man deep on Seattle's next possession, resulting in a 45-yard gain.
Moore, a seventh-round pick in last year's draft, continues to show why he has a real shot to make the team after spending most of last year on the practice squad. Earlier in the week, Wilson referred to Moore as a "freak of nature," referring to his ability to make plays on the ball, and he showed that on back-to-back plays on the drive that eventually ended with the Carson fumble. First, Moore leapt to haul in a 52-yard pass in double coverage that until he caught it seemed more likely to be intercepted than a Seahawks reception. On the next play, Wilson targeted Moore again, and after making the catch he nearly drug his defender into the end zone, eventually falling at the 1-yard line following a 19-yard gain.
"We saw some guys really jump off the film," Carroll said. "Jaron Brown had a couple nice plays, David Moore had a couple beautiful plays."
Late in the game, Cyril Grayson Jr. fought for a 39-yard catch on the sideline. When that drive ended with a Malik Turner touchdown grab, Grayson also added a 2-point conversion.
3. Rasheem Green and other new defensive linemen continue to flash.
With a few players moving on this offseason, the Seahawks need some of their newly-acquired defensive linemen to contribute this year, and through two preseason games, they've seen some encouraging moments from those players. Rookie Rasheem Green, who had 1.5 sacks last week, had another big day, again recording 1.5 sacks to give him 3.0 in two preseason games. He also made a great play in run defense, setting the edge, then shedding his block before diving to take out the feet of the Chargers back for a 5-yard loss.
"Those are numbers, now. Three sacks in two games jumps off the stat sheet for you," Carroll said of Green. "He looks really aggressive and very skilled in his pass rush. Again, the way he got the sacks, this was technique-oriented. He was really great with his hands and got them free. So that's a real positive. That's hard to do that at any time for anybody, so I'm fired up to see him be able to produce like that."
Tom Johnson, a free-agent addition, also continues to show up, and on Saturday had a half sack he split with Quinton Jefferson, as well as a nice run stuff. Barkevious Mingo, another free-agent signing, showed really good athleticism on a reverse, hurdling a block, spinning around then sprinting to the sideline to force Travis Benjamin out before the receiver could gain a first down. That hustle and athleticism paid off, as the Chargers punted two plays later. Mingo also contributed to a big play on special teams, getting down field quickly on a 55-yard punt by Michael Dickson. Shaquem Griffin made the big hit on the play, but that happened in part because Mingo was there too and forced the returner Griffin's direction.
4. A nice drive for Alex McGough.
Rookie quarterback Alex McGough is competing with Austin Davis for the backup quarterback job, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has made no secret of the fact that the veteran Davis has been ahead in that battle throughout camp. McGough might have helped his case Saturday night, leading Seattle's only touchdown drive, which ended with his floating a perfectly-placed pass to Malik Turner for a 12-yard touchdown. McGough also hit Cyril Grayson Jr. down the sideline for a 39-yard gain on that drive to set up the score.
"I thought that was beautiful," Carroll said. "That was a difficult time, we needed it, we needed him to take some shots, we needed him to be aggressive, and he came through. It seemed like he hit everything. That was a great sign for him. I really liked that he was under pressure in that time and he had to feel that and express his ability, and he did. It's very positive. Those were great throws up the sideline, Malik made a great catch, and even the 2-point play was a beautifully executed goal-line play too."
5. Philip Rivers remains difficult to stop.
The Seahawks nearly sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers early in Los Angeles' first possession, but instead he escaped pressure and somehow got off an awkward throw for a Chargers first down. He then finished leading the Chargers on a 9-play, 70-yard touchdown drive, and including the second possession, he completed his first six attempts. If Rivers having early success against Seattle feels familiar, that's because he also led the Chargers on a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive when these teams met in the preseason last August.
"I thought Philip Rivers looked great against us on their first drive, then we slowed him down a little bit, then they took him (out of the game)," said Carroll. "I wish we could have kept playing against him; he's such an extraordinary player, and it would have been good for us just to work against him. That's nothing to say about their other (quarterbacks), but we just have that much regard for Philip."
6. The penalty situation improved a bit.
While there were still a few mistakes associated with inexperienced players working out the kinks in the preseason, such as a 12-men on the field penalty, the Seahawks still did a much better job when it came to cleaning up the penalty situation, something Carroll singled out as a goal for this game. Last week, the Seahawks had 12 penalties for 98 yards, including 10 second-half penalties. On Saturday, Seattle had six penalties for 50 yards, only three of which came in the second half when the starters were out of the game.
Game action photos from the Seahawks' second preseason game of 2018 against the Chargers in Los Angeles.