Early deficit costs Chargers against Seahawks

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – The summation of the NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the visiting Seattle Seahawks was laid out in the first quarter. The Seahawks made the plays that counted. The Chargers could not.

 The Chargers had to play catch-up all afternoon in a 37-23 loss to Seattle.

“Certainly not the way that you want to start the football game,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said.  “That definitely wasn’t our goal today. We started off the game, defensively, with a big takeaway, and then we turned the ball over on downs on a third-and-fourth-and-short. We throw an interception, we fumble.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) looks for daylight to run against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 23, 2022. Pursuing Ekeler is Seattle nose tackle Al Woods (99). Photo by Melinda Meijer, courtesy of the Compton Bulletin

“It’s really hard to get momentum when you start the game like that. We were able to fight our way back and get back into the game, but there’s a lot of energy that goes with that. Then, we just didn’t play a clean enough second half in any phase to create any momentum and to get the lead back. Just didn’t play well enough today in any phase.”

For the Chargers, the first quarter represented anything but good. Playing a rebranded Seahawks team, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw an interception that would result in a touchdown for the Seahawks. On another series, Herbert was caught off guard on a strip sack, a play that eventually paved the way for Seattle to tack on another three points.

Oh yeah, before all of that happened, the Chargers after getting a gift in the form of an interception by linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. off Seattle quarterback Geno Smith, flipped the ball right back to Seattle when Austin Ekeler was stuffed on fourth down on a run play up the middle.

All this made for a long first quarter for the Chargers, which found themselves down 17-0 before the second period had arrived. This was definitely not the start to the ballgame that Staley had in mind.

“They played exactly how they’ve been playing all year, trying to be opportunistic with the football,” Staley said about Seattle’s fast start. “We knew that the takeaway margin was how they’ve been winning games. Today, certainly, with the way that we played, we played into their hands.”

The Chargers regrouped from that near-calamitous first quarter and answered the ball in the second period with a running touchdown by Ekeler. After Seattle running back Dee Eskridge fumbled the ball away, Herbert hit wide receiver Mike Williams on a crossing route for another score. Just like that, the tide of the game had turned.

Seattle Seahawks defeat the Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) is surrounded by Seattle Seahawks defenders during an NFL game played at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 23, 2022. Photo by Melinda Meijer, courtesy of the Compton Bulletin

Instead of being down by double-digits, the Chargers were now down 17-14 with an opportunity to take the lead into halftime. That didn’t happen and the Seahawks outscored the Chargers 20-9 the rest of the way to secure its fourth win of the season.

“I really liked this today,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. “I like the way we played. I thought you could feel us in all three phases. We were humming and guys were running and hitting the way we wanted to. It was a really physical game. It was good to see the offense be able to go down the field and put some points on the board and the defense was slowing down. Other than the turnovers that screwed us up, we really had a really solid football game.”

A major part of the Seahawks having a solid game was the play of Smith, who completed 20 of 27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. With Carroll and the Seahawks turning the keys of the car over to him, Smith appearss to be flourishing as the team’s starting quarterback after several years as the backup to Russell Wilson.

When asked about being able to “absorb” the moment of being in a place where others may have written him off, Smith deflected that question about as well as he dodged Chargers defenders on the afternoon. It’s not about him. It’s about the team, Smith said.

“This moment is not for myself. I do not really care about it,” Smith remarked. “It is for the team. The opportunity to play is all that matters to me. It is to be able to go out there with the guys to compete. As far as any vindication, I already knew who I was. This is not fulfilling me in any way. It is about the team and how we can get better and continue to win each week. For me, I just need to continue to work hard and continue to lead and all the other stuff I am not really focused on.”

On the other side of the coin, Herbert had to work extra hard to gain 293 yards through the air. Though he completed 33 passes and threw for two touchdowns, it took Herbert 51 attempts to achieve those numbers. The Seahawks, known for their aggressive play, seemed to dial up the pressure all game long, dropping Herbert three times in sacks. Afterward, Herbert commended Seattle’s defense for their play.

“I thought they played really well defensively,” Herbert said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t execute the way that we wanted to today. I turned the ball over a couple of times, and you can’t expect to do that and win games in the NFL.”